The Career Of Angela Hill
By Jack Maher
It feels like Angela Hill has been around forever, and in that time she’s been written off countless times, yet at the age of 35 she has made 2020 a year to remember.
Starting MMA at the late age of 29, Hill had previously competed as a kick-boxer, going 16-0. She also competed in Muay Thai, going 2-0 before making the transition to MMA.
After winning her debut in the now defunct USFFC promotion, Hill made her first appearance in the UFC, competing on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter. Hill lost in the first round to Carla Esparza, who would go on to win the tournament and become the inaugural UFC strawweight champion.
Entering the tournament only 1-0 and losing in the first round would’ve made most believe Hill was simply not UFC calibre. However, she was given another chance to earn her stripes and fought fellow TUF competitor Emily Kagan at the tournament final event, winning a comfortable decision.
At 2-0 Hill was a prospect to keep an eye on but not get carried away with, however, it is at this stage of her career she suffered a major setback.
Hill’s next opponent was Tecia Torres, who back in 2015 was 5-0 and one of the hottest prospects in the division. Hill lost a unanimous decision to Torres, her first official loss in MMA.
Hill followed up her loss to Torres with an even taller order, facing Rose Namajunas later that year. Namajunas had come up short in The Ultimate Fighter finale, and would go on to win the strawweight championship years later. Namajunas submitted Hill in the first round.
With two consecutive losses and a 2-2 record, that was enough for the UFC to decide they no longer wanted to be in the Angela Hill business. Following her release, Hill turned to Invicta, the organisation starting to make waves with cards made up of female fighters.
2015 was a bad year for Hill, but 2016 was the year she got back on track, going 4-0 in Invicta, where she won and defended the company’s strawweight championship. Following her successful run in Invicta, it was no surprise the UFC decided to bring her back in to the fold to add some depth to the division in early 2017.
Hill was given no easy ride in her return bout, being paired with Jessica Andrade, a fierce Brazilian on the verge of a title shot. The two had an entertaining brawl that won them fight of the night honours, and although Hill dropped a decision, her stock was raised by managing to hold her own against one of the divisions best.
‘Overkill’ was back in the UFC and if her return fight was anything to go by she looked set to be involved in some entertaining fights, although she soon entered a stage of her career where every step forward was followed by a step backwards.
Through 2017 and 2018 Hill struggled to build any real momentum. Wins over Ashley Yoder, Maryna Moroz and Jodie Esquibel came alongside losses to Courtney Casey, Nina Ansaroff, Randa Markos and Yan Xiaonan.
It looked like Hill was firmly stuck in the role of gatekeeper, unable to beat the top names in the division but good enough to upset others. However, in September 2019 Hill began her first winning streak in the UFC.
A TKO victory over Ariane Carnelossi gave Hill her first stoppage win in the UFC, and she followed that up with a consecutive stoppage, this time ending the winning streak of Hannah Cifers with a nasty elbow. Hill earned respect and plaudits for returning to the cage just a month later, flying out to New Zealand in February to hand Loma Lookaboonmee her first UFC loss. It was early in 2020, but Hill already had lots of momentum.
Hill was rewarded with a step-up facing former title challenger Cláudia Gadelha in May. Hill lost on the scorecards, but many thought she won. Hill herself has passionately argued the fact she should’ve won and in many people’s eyes she should’ve had her hand raised.
This is not lost on the UFC, and she has been given another shot at one of the divisions big names, competing in her first UFC event this Saturday against Michelle Waterson.