Michelle Waterson Edges Angela Hill in Epic Strawweight Clash
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Michelle Waterson earned a hard fought, five round split decision victory over Angela Hill in a classic women’s strawweight battle - the UFC Fight Night main event Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Both fighters set personal bests for significant strikes in the fast-paced, intense war - clearly one of the best fights in what has been a highly entertaining year on the women’s side of the UFC ledger.
Hill’s speed and quickness was evident in round one. Hill landed some heavy strikes, causing significant swelling under Waterson’s right eye and her left temple. Waterson tried unsuccessfully to take Hill to the floor and the high energy round ended clearly in Hill’s favour.
Both fighters had their moments in round two, and while definitely a better round for Waterson, Hill held a slight edge in significant strikes. Hill started the third round strong, landing a hard right that caused Waterson to bleed significantly from the nose. Waterson responded with a takedown and maintained control to the end of the frame, doing enough from the top to win her the round.
Hill successfully defended Waterson’s takedown attempts early in round four, but Waterson landed a number of leg kicks, one that caught Hill squarely in the face. Waterson was the busier fighter and the final frame was likely going to be the decider.
Round five was an epic display of technique and determination by both fighters. With a minute remaining, each fighter had landed eighteen significant strikes and the round ended with Hill and Waterson desperately exchanging blows to the bell. The decision was rightfully close but Waterson appeared to have the edge as the fight wore on and it was hard to argue with the final decision.
In the co-main event, lightweight Ottman Azaitar remained unbeaten, scoring an impressive first round knockout victory over Khama Worthy. Azaitar started quickly, landing an overhand right that hurt Worthy and followed with an onslaught of strikes that battered Worthy to the canvas. Azaitar quickly followed up and after landing a brief flurry of blows, referee Herb Dean called a halt to the fight at 1:32 of the opening round. With the win Azaitar improves his record to 13-0 with twelve finishes - clearly a rising star in the division.
In other action from the main card, featherweight Billy Quarantillo weathered a first round storm before knocking out Canadian Kyle Nelson just eight seconds in to the third round. Nelson, after a solid opening round, tired visibly in round two and was reeling towards the end of the round, absorbing significant punishment from Quarantillo. Obviously feeling the effects, the Stoney Creek, Ontario native was caught by a vicious fight-ending right from Quarantillo to start the final round and fell face first to the canvas.
In lightweight action, Bobby Green earned a unanimous decision over Alan Patrick in a dominating performance. Green had Patrick virtually out on his feet in the final round but couldn’t finish the Brazilian who fought gamely throughout.
In a controversial light heavyweight bout, veteran Ed Herman fought back from the verge of defeat in all three rounds to apply a desperation kimura and defeat Mike Rodriguez by submission. The fight was marred by referee Chris Tognoni calling a low blow on Rodriguez in round two with Herman sitting on the canvas in obvious pain after absorbing a series of knee strikes. Replays however revealed that the knees Rodriguez landed were well above the belt and completely legal. The five minute delay granted to Herman saved him from almost certain defeat. In the final round, Rodriguez pressed Herman up against the fence and landed a barrage of elbows to the side of Herrman’s head driving him to the mat. Rodriguez appeared to be in complete control on top but the crafty Herman deftly applied a kimura, forcing the heavily favoured Rodriguez to tap and bring the bout to a stunning end.
In her forty-third career bout Roxanne “The Happy Warrior” Modafferi earned a unanimous decision over Andrea Lee in a hard fought battle between ranked flyweights.
The UFC is right back at it with an impressive card next Saturday, the headline event an intriguing welterweight tilt between Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley.