Waterson vs Hill: Why Should You Care
By Alex Conway
I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t think there are significant title stakes on the line for this fight.
It’s a main event showcase, so the chance to do something impressive and insert yourself into the conversation is always there, but both fighters are coming off a loss and the next strawweight title fight should almost certainly be given to Rose Namajunas.
However, the UFC’s strawweight division is the deepest women’s division in all of MMA across the entire globe. It’s the equivalent of men’s lightweight where a longer number beside the name shouldn’t carry with it the long faces that some other divisions might bring forth.
Why should you care about this fight?
Let’s start with Angela Hill, who is the Donald Cerrone of her division. She’ll fight anyone at any time and if a fight falls through she will almost certainly be the first person on social media with her hand raised, ready to step in at a moment’s notice.
She’s been a big name in this division because of her willingness to fight anyone, but when she’s fought against someone you’ve probably heard of, to this point she’s lost.
That’s why this fight is so interesting if you stare at it from Hill’s angle. She’s clearly a better fighter than she was coming off The Ultimate Fighter in 2014.
After the show she lost her first two fights in the UFC and promptly got bounced from the promotion.
But it’s important to remember that she entered the UFC with only two professional fights on her record and one of those two losses was against future champ Rose Namajunas.
After getting cut she won the Invicta 115-pound title and quickly got another invite to the big show. She’s gone 6-6 since her return with most of her losses coming against the division’s best (Jessica Andrade, Claudia Gadelha and Nina Ansaraoff to name a few.)
Hill is 35-years old, so despite feeling like a prospect for a long time, she’s actually one of the division’s oldest fighters. This could likely be her last real chance to surge into title contention.
From Waterson’s perspective, she’s been on the cusp of a title shot since entering the UFC after having won the Invicta atomweight title.
Because the UFC doesn’t have a 105-pound weight class, Waterson has essentially fought up a weight class so that she can showcase her skills on the world’s largest stage.
Like Hill, Waterson’s UFC run has also included struggles with breaking through the metaphorical glass ceiling, although it should be noted Waterson has been operating against better overall competition.
Waterson is 34-years old, so like Hill she is also one of the division’s older competitors. Make no mistake, being in their mid-30’s doesn’t mean these fighters are preparing for retirement, but lighter weight classes require speed and quick reflexes which are the first thing a fighter loses as they age.
Waterson has been pegged as a potential star in the past by the UFC only for the UFC to not get the return on investment they might have hoped for in regards to a title fight.
The promotion would love it if Waterson could deliver a highlight reel finish against Hill so they could match her up with someone that might propel her into title contention, but a loss could be devastating.
Losing to Hill wouldn’t be the issue as much as the three-fight losing streak Waterson would be on and the rest of the division coming up behind her.
She’d have to go on an extended run to get another headlining chance.
So why should you care? Because the winner of this fight isn’t getting a title shot but the loser almost certainly never will.