It’s no secret fan appreciation is generally low-energy for Women’s MMA. Of course there have been breakout stars, but it takes unprecedented dominance to gain mainstream affection. Angela Hill (8-4 MMA, 3-4 MMA) has crafted her own path. Her quick wit, sense of humor, and amazing Street Fighter cosplays have made her into a bit of social media darling.
It is fantastic that Hill is recognized for this talent. However, her fighting ability is still scarcely discussed. Coached by Eric Del Fierro at Alliance MMA, Hill has developed her slick Muay Thai to become one of the more interesting strikers to watch these days.
If you like low kicks, switch knees, high volume and punching off angles, Hill is your boi.
This is Fighter of Interest, where underrated, under the radar, or underappreciated fighters from an upcoming event are brought to light.
UFC Fight Night 135
Fighter of Interest: Angela Hill
The Ultimate Fighter 20 served as a championship tournament for the inaugural UFC strawweight title. Although she only had one professional MMA fight at that point, Hill made the cut. Unfortunately, she was a bit green as a pure striker, and her first matchup was against eventual tournament champion and lifelong wrestler Carla Esparza.
Hill’s gaps in defensive wrestling and grappling eventually lead to two consecutive losses to a contender in Tecia Torres and future champion Rose Namajunas. It was likely a case of too much too soon, and Angela Hill got a fresh start in Invicta FC.
Alliance MMA has a fine selection of training partners for female fighters. It has hosted former title challengers like Cat Zingano, Jessica Penne, even legends like Bec Rawlings and Angela Magana. One would assume Hill could also work with the lighter males, like the great Dominick Cruz and Darrion Caldwell.
Volume, conditioning, and varied footwork complemented Hill’s aggressive striking style. Even in men’s divisions, there is a surprising lack of feints and rhythm in the stand-up game. These are Angela Hill’s strong points.
Observe the way Hill never stops her motion in front of Alida Gray. She’s moving her shoulders and hips, faking by just touching the arms, baiting Gray into throwing a wide punch. Under this kind of pressure, inexperienced strikers will attempt to scare off their opponent with a big shot.
Hill went on to win the Invicta title and defend her belt over five rounds. Showing great improvement and on a four-fight win streak, it was time for a second shot in the UFC.
–vs. Jessica Andrade–
Known to some as “Wandrade”, Jessica Andrade has also drawn comparisons to the likes of John Lineker for her brick-fisted tornado style. After mixed results as an extremely undersized bantamweight, Andrade dropped to 115 and tore through Hill’s teammate Jessica Penne and then Joanne Calderwood.
Andrade has freakish mutant strength, which she claims comes from growing up on a farm as she forgoes strength and conditioning. On top of that, she boasts an absurdly sturdy chin, and a solid ground game to go with her blitzing assault style.
Andrade was in line for a shot at Joanna Jędrzejczyk, but allegedly asked for one more fight to prepare.
FIGHT OF THE NIGHT
It struck some as an odd matchup, Hill was coming back for a second chance in the UFC, and they’re immediately “feeding” her to the top contender. But Angela Hill was being treated as a defending champion crossing over, and welcomed the challenge.
Andrade quickly began her charge. Typically she bull-rushes opponents to the cage, where she can tee off and finish, or they panic and give up a dominant position. While Andrade was able to back up Hill, she was met with resistance.
Angela Hill did a fantastic job of timing Andrade’s entries with intercepting knees. With her hunched over stance and constant pressure, the Brazilian was reliably there to be hit each time.
When Andrade wasn’t blitzing, Hill did her best to stay long and keep her on the end of jabs and straights. When they stood in open space, Hill had her way with creative setups and pieced up the number one contender.
The two strawweights kept a ridiculous pace. Hill’s cardio held up in that her volume hardly waned, but her feet were a little less busy and she was there to be countered by Andrade’s hook slinging.
And yet, she had brilliant defensive and counter-offensive moments late in the fight. Hill turned to elbows to stop Andrade in her tracks, moved her head in the pocket, and was able to mitigate the non-stop cannon fire of Andrade.
Andrade vs. Hill is listed as the #7 best fight of 2017 by Tapology.
Angela Hill had a great showing against a fighter who continues to dominate the top ten of her division. Only Joanna has been able to enforce an outfighting performance against Andrade, her only loss at 115.
–vs. Ashley Yoder–
Perhaps to make up for the difficulty of her last fight, Hill was matched up with 5-2 Ashley Yoder. Training out of Team Quest, Yoder has used her toughness and grappling skills to stay competitive with top strawweights.
Yoder was desperate to get the fight to the ground, she offered little effective offense standing. Hill had time and space to show off, throwing in combination and countering anything Yoder attempted. She did a great job low kicking as Yoder retreated from punches. Hill also used her lead leg kick to plant Yoder in one spot, before angling off on a right overhand.
When Yoder tired and was a bit more static, Hill was able to sit down on harder strikes. The right hand was money, Hill used her full frame to extend and punch through Yoder’s face, repeatedly.
Fans were able to see the improvements in Hill’s striking, but she was also competitive with Yoder on the ground. When she did get taken down, Hill was able to consistently reverse position and maintain control of the fight.
–vs. Nina Ansaroff–
Known to many as the fiance of Amanda Nunes, Nina Ansaroff has been a bit of a late bloomer in MMA. Her taekwondo background shines through at times, but Ansaroff has done her best work with more of a static Muay Thai style of striking.
In the first round of their fight, Hill was absolutely lighting her up. When Ansaroff stepped forward, she was hit with jabs or caught and countered. When she retreated, Hill was consistently low kicking, or entering on her own combinations. Ansaroff had a hard time judging Hill’s timing and speed, perhaps it was just a different look.
Hill slowed a touch in the second round, and Ansaroff started to find her spots. Hill had to push and be more physical in exchanges, which is an exhausting proposition given the pace she prefers to keep.
A major shift occurred when Ansaroff got busy with her own low kicks. Having little success checking them, Hill was forced to fight marching forward to stifle Ansaroff’s kicking game. They clashed repeatedly, with Hill still having some moments of brilliance with combination striking in the pocket and off the clinch.
It was a close decision loss, but a solid display of Hill’s striking adaptability. Ansaroff is currently on a three-fight winning streak.
LAST FIGHT: Def. Maryna Moroz via Unanimous Decision
Many were excited by Maryna Moroz when she first came to the UFC. A “Master of Sports” in boxing, she shocked fans with an upset armbar from guard against Joanne Calderwood.
Since then, Moroz has become better known for throwing a high volume of punches in the air.
While Hill is certainly a more effective striker, there was cause for concern. Moroz had been able to impress judges with her activity in the past, and Hill was coming off a performance where she faded over three rounds.
Keeping that in mind, Angela Hill was more strategic in how she used her energy. While Moroz “spammed” combinations, Hill stayed safely out of range and made sure to fire off a clear counter, usually a low kick. No judge could mistake who actually did something in those exchanges.
In spurts, she opened up full combinations in response to Moroz’s lead. Hill didn’t really need to have her own entries, Moroz was throwing non-stop.
In response, Moroz attempted to be more tactical, kicking from the outside and looking for clinches and takedowns, but Hill had an answer for everything.
When a fighter is tired, they tend to go back to what they know. For Hill, that meant to break the discipline of the gameplan and get loose. Her shots got a little loopier, her hands dropped, and she relied much more on head movement. This was still highly entertaining, and effective.
NEXT FIGHT: vs. Cortney Casey at UFC Fight Night 135
Angela Hill has proven her worth in the UFC’s 115-pound division. After having a high degree of success over some of the best in the division, her skills and style cannot be questioned.
Now it is a matter of gaining momentum. In her seven UFC fights, she has not yet won two in a row. What will happen when she meets #11 ranked Cortney Casey?
While Casey doesn’t have a signature win thus far, she’s kept it close and competitive against the division’s contenders like Claudia Gadelha and Michelle Waterson. It’s hard to identify one area of MMA where Casey stands out, besides her excellent upkicks.
Unless you’re Schwan Humes, predictive analysis for women’s MMA is a tough game. One would imagine Hill will have a significant advantage striking, and can handle herself in the clinch. It doesn’t seem likely that Casey will be knocked out, and she can push a high pace in grappling-centric fights.
It’s possible that Hill could be worn down, making her more susceptible to takedowns late in the second and into the third. If it’s skill vs. skill, Angela Hill should be the favorite.
You can watch Angela Hill vs. Cortney Casey on the main card of UFC Fight Night 135: Gaethje vs. Vick on Saturday, August 25th. War Hill.
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