Michelle Waterson took another step toward a title shot with an impressive victory over Angela Hill at UFC Vegas 10 on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Waterson and Hill took the main event slot for UFC Vegas 10 just over a week ago. Original headliner Glover Teixeira tested positive for COVID-19, forcing his bout with Thiago Santos to be postponed to a later date.
Hill made history by becoming the first African-American woman to headline a UFC fight card, but she wasn’t able to add the distinction of winning the bout.
Hill had a fantastic opening round. Waterson tried to make a quick start, throwing lots of punches and kicks in the opening moments of the fight, but landed nothing. Hill utilized her movement to avoid the strikes and countered with several powerful punches that hurt Waterson within the first minute.
Waterson shifted to some takedown attempts, but Hill deftly defended them, keeping the pressure on her. Both women landed several shots, but it was clear right away that Hill was the heavier hitter.
Waterson stepped up her aggression in round two, showing the blistering speed of her punch-kick combinations, landing several times throughout the frame. Hill, however, was just as aggressive, returning fire throughout the frame and still landing with more power than Waterson.
Hill shifted gears a bit in round three, working her jab to greater effect and constantly switching stances. But Waterson finally clinched her and tripped Hill to the canvas, landing on top in half guard.
While Waterson tried to find an opening, Hill threatened a Kimura from her back. Hill eventually turned and tried to get to her feet, but Waterson stayed on her back and returned her to the canvas.
Again on top in half guard, Waterson smothered Hill and tried to soften her up with body punches. She tried to pass to full mount, but Hill put her into full guard.
As they got into the heat of the battle and time ran out on the round, Hill launched an up-kick that caught Waterson in the face while they were both on the canvas. She received a warning from referee Marc Goddard in between rounds, but did not lose a point.
The fourth round opened with both women working their jabs, but Waterson seemed to find her timing as the round wore on, landing several hard combinations that rocked Hill a bit. Hill, who hadn’t been into the fourth round since her stint in Invicta FC, slowed slightly as the round wore on.
Perhaps losing focus, Hill ate a hard kick to the face in the final minute of the frame.
Hill clinched late in the round and put Waterson on the fence again, but round four was clearly one of Waterson’s best of the fight.
Waterson looked fresher as the fifth round began, but both women were launching strikes with fury. Hill mostly throwing hands, while Waterson mixed in more kicks.
Again Hill shucked off another takedown attempt, seeming to get her second wind.
Waterson threw a lot of kicks, but Hill slipped most of them and countered with a stinging jab and powerful right hand. But Waterson didn’t back down, instead digging deep and throwing even more punch-kick combinations.
That lit a fire under Hill, who countered with heavy punch combinations.
With 60 seconds left in the fight, both women threw caution to the wind and all the strikes in their respective arsenals at each other. It was a brutal final minute that ended with Hill pressing Waterson to the fence and unleashing successive elbows.
Waterson and Hill both looked elated with the tremendous battle they had just fought. But it was Waterson that got the split-nod. The judges awarded her scores of 48-47 and 49-46 on two of the scorecards, while one judge scored it 48-47 in Hill’s favor.
“I wanted to submit her. I wanted to take her down and finish the fight,” Waterson said after the fight.
Having defeated Hill, who has been one of the busiest fighters on the UFC roster over the past couple of years, Waterson is hoping to get fast tracked to a title shot.
“Whoever is the next contender to fight for the belt. I want to get to the belt as fast as possible,” Waterson said about whom she’d like to fight next, though her focus was more on sending a message to everyone in the world during what has been a rather trying year.
“I think everybody around the world is feeling pain and hurt. I encourage you to embrace that pain and hurt and use it to propel you forward rather than hold you down.”
Ottman Azaitar makes quick work of Khama Worthy in co-main event
Ottman Azaitar wasted no time taking care of business in the UFC Vegas 10 co-main event.
Azaitar rocked Khama Worthy early with a right-left combo followed by an uppercut. Once he realized Worthy was hurt, he just kept punching until Worthy hit the canvas.
After the fight went to the floor, Azaitar followed his opponent down and kept unloading right hands to the head until the referee stopped the fight.
Azaitar said he had planned to go all three rounds with Worthy, but couldn’t help himself. “Once I smell blood, I go for the finish.”
Roxanne Modafferi gets hard-earned victory in rematch with Andrea Lee
Roxanne Modafferi outworked Andrea Lee throughout much of the first two rounds, frequently taking her to the canvas and getting the better of her on the canvas.
Lee turned the tables late in the second round, where she scored with a spinning backfist that hurt Modafferi. Lee followed with more of her sniper-like striking. Modafferi survived the frame and even scored another takedown just before the second round horn.
The third round was looking good for Lee as she started to take control with her striking. She went for another spinning backfist and Modafferi ducked it to clinch and drag her back to the canvas.
Lee was quickly back to her feet, but almost as quickly, Modafferi again put Lee on her back, dominating most of the remainder of the fight with her ground and pound attack. Lee got out from under Modafferi just as the the final bell sounded.
The bout was a rematch of their December 2014 fight under the Invicta FC banner. Modafferi won in 2014 via a split decision, and she earned the victory again, this time taking a unanimous nod from the judges, although it was still admittedly a close bout.
“I was pretty sure I had it, but you never know these days,” Modafferi said after the fight. “I was crossing my fingers.”
Ed Herman makes controversial turnaround to beat Mike Rodriguez
Mike Rodriguez rocked Ed Herman on several occasions throughout their three-round main card light heavyweight battle.
In fact, in the second round, Rodriguez landed a knee to Herman’s chest that sent him down to the canvas. The referee, however, thought it was a low blow and paused the fight, giving Herman time to recover.
The replay clearly showed a clean knee to the sternum sent Herman to the canvas. He later admitted that he was hurt badly at that point, but until he watched the replay, said he was unsure where the blow landed.
Herman used the opportunity to his advantage, locking up a Kimura in round three that forced Rodriguez to submit.
UFC Vegas 10: Waterson vs. Hill results
UFC Vegas 10 Main Card
- Main Event: Michelle Waterson def Angela Hill by split decision (47-48, 49-46, 48-47)
- Co-Main Event: Ottman Azaitar def. Khama Worthy by TKO (punches) at 1:33, R1
- Roxanne Modafferi def Andrea Lee by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Ed Herman def Mike Rodriguez by submission (Kimura) at 2:41, R3
- Bobby Green def Alan Patrick by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Billy Quarantillo def Kyle Nelson by TKO (punches) at 0:07, R3
UFC Vegas 10 Prelims
- Sijara Eubanks def Julia Avila by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
- Kevin Croom def Roosevelt Roberts by submission (guillotine choke) at 0:31, R1
- Alexandr Romanov def Roque Martinez by submission (arm triangle choke) at 4:22, R2
- Jalin Turner def Brok Weaver by submission (tear-naked choke) at 4:20, R2
- Bryan Barberena def Anthony Ivy by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Sabina Mazo def Justine Kish by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:57, R3