UFC Fight Night Report: Michelle Waterson defeats Angela Hill by split decision

Eric Marcotte reviews Saturday's UFC Fight Night card featuring Michelle Waterson edging past Angela Hill with a split decision victory.

Photo courtesy: UFC

UFC Fight Night Report: Michelle Waterson defeats Angela Hill by split decision

By: Eric Marcotte

The UFC held its second Fight Night event of the month from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday night. The original main event of this card was a fight between Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos, but the fight was postponed when Teixeira tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the scheduled co-main event bout between Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill was moved into the main event slot. Both fighters were coming off losses in their previous fight, but this fight would serve as a huge opportunity for each woman to work her way into title contention. In the co-main event, the undefeated Ottman Azaitar faced Khama Worthy.

Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this event alongside Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Kevin Croom and Ottman Azaitar. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill.

QUICK RESULTS:

*Sabina Mazo def. Justine Kish by rear-naked choke at 3:57 of Round 3

*Bryan Barberena def. Anthony Ivy by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

*Jalin Turner def. Brok Weaver by rear-naked choke at 4:20 of Round 2

*Alexander Romanov def. Roque Martinez by arm triangle at 4:22 of Round 2

*Kevin Croom def. Roosevelt Roberts by guillotine at 0:31 of Round 1

*Sijara Eubanks def. Julia Avila by unanimous decision (29-27 all)

*Billy Quarantillo def. Kyle Nelson by KO at 0:07 of Round 3

*Bobby Green def. Alan Patrick by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Ed Herman def. Mike Rodriguez by kimura at 2:41 of Round 3

*Roxanne Modafferi def. Andrea Lee by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Ottman Azaitar def. Khama Worthy by TKO at 1:33 of Round 1

*Michelle Waterson def. Angela Hill by split decision (49-46, 48-47,47-48)

SABINA MAZO (8-1, 125.5) VS JUSTINE KISH (7-2, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

Mazo opened up the fight with a head kick, and Kish responded with several aggressive leg kicks. Kish was cut open next to her left eye, but it didn’t seem to be affecting her vision. She had a very high output of strikes in the first round, but Mazo appeared to be a bit more efficient, and by the end of the round, their strike counts were fairly even. Kish ended the round with a successful takedown.

Kish caught a kick from Mazo and landed a jumping head kick. She was continuously throwing these sort of half-spinning, leading backfists, that landed throughout the round. Mazo was having a degree of success with her kicks, but Kish did a good job of catching enough of these that Mazo became hesitant to throw them. Mazo defended a takedown near the end of the round. Again, Mazo landed more strikes, but Kish was the aggressor, and her shots seemed to have a bit more behind them.

Mazo landed a pair of big head kicks in the opening minute of the third round. Kish continued to mix a lot of spinning attacks into her counters and combinations. Mazo dropped Kish with a beautiful head kick, and she followed Kish to the ground, immediately locking in the rear-naked choke to win the fight.

WINNER: Sabina Mazo by rear-naked choke at 3:57 of Round 3

The head kick that knocked Kish down was perfectly executed. I had the scorecards at 20-18 for Justine Kish going into the final round, and it seemed that Mazo’s corner may have reached the same conclusion, because Mazo came out firing head kicks in the third round, and it worked out nicely. She is now on a three-fight win streak.

BRYAN BARBERENA (14-7, 170) VS ANTHONY IVY (8-3, 169.5) – WELTERWEIGHT

Ivy attempted a takedown in the opening minute that Barberena defended. He pursued the takedown for the next couple minutes, and while he was unsuccessful, he racked up a decent amount of control time. When they separated Barberena hurt Ivy with a body shot, and swarmed him with strikes. Ivy created some distance with a right hand, but it was apparent that he had no interest in standing with Barberena. He succeeded on his next takedown attempt and ended the round on top. I scored the round for Barberena.

Every time Barberena landed, Ivy seemed hurt, and he just wasn’t having the success with the wrestling that one would assume he was hoping for. They exchanged big right hands and Ivy’s knee’s buckled, and he attempted another takedown. Barberena stuffed it and went back on the attack, landing a solid left hand as Ivy backed into the cage. Throughout the round, Ivy landed solid shots as Barberena rushed in, but Barberena wasn’t reacting to any of them and continued to walk Ivy down. As the round wore on, Ivy began to swing for the fences, and he showed a ton of heart by biting down on his mouthpiece and punching himself back into the fight. Nonetheless, I had Barberena up 20-18 going into the final round.

Ivy opened up the third round with a takedown, and both men were kneeling against the cage, punching each other in the face. Barberena got up and stuffed a couple more takedown attempts from Ivy. Ivy was shooting nonstop in this round, but they eventually returned to just trading heavy hands on the feet. With less than a minute left, Ivy got Barberena down one last time, but Barberena threatened a kimura, and time expired. 30-27 Barberena.

WINNER: Bryan Barberena by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

This was Barberena’s first fight in over a year, and like most Barberena fights, it was tremendously entertaining. Ivy looked like every shot Barberena landed on him was hurting him, but as the fight moved into the later rounds, he started returning fire and made this a fight. Barberena is now 6-5 in the UFC.

JALIN TURNER (9-5, 163.5) VS BROK WEAVER (15-5, 164) – CATCHWEIGHT

Turner immediately hurt Weaver with a straight right hand, and Weaver shot for a double leg. Turner defended the attempt but ate a few hard leg kicks from Weaver on the break. Turner landed a pair of vicious snap kicks to the midsection. Towards the end of the round, Turner landed a right hook that floored Weaver, but he hung on until the end of the round.

The commentators spent a significant portion of this fight discussing Turner’s tarantula collection, as the man apparently owns over 200 of the arachnids. Turner landed a few body shots and a knee to the head of Weaver, which were perhaps the best strikes of the round for him. Turner dropped Weaver hard with another right hand, and he went for the walk-off. Referee Herb Dean informed Turner that the fight was not over, and Turner allowed Weaver to get back to his feet. When Weaver got up, Turner quickly took him back down and finished him with a rear-naked choke.

WINNER: Jalin Turner by rear-naked choke at 4:20 of Round 2

Turner was a sizable favorite despite taking this fight on a couple of day’s notice, and he showed why here. He dominated the vast majority of this fight, and it was pretty clear that this was a mismatch. Turner has looked impressive (for the most part) throughout his UFC run so far, and he has legitimate power, as Brok Weaver found out the hard way here. Turner is now 3-2 in the UFC.

ALEXANDER ROMANOV (11-0, 261) VS ROQUE MARTINEZ (15-5-2, 258.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT

Romanov landed a hard body kick and then dragged Martinez down to the ground. He started raining down ground and pound strikes, and Martinez attempted to get up. As he did so, Romanov slammed him right back down to the ground. This sequence repeated itself, and Romanov began to throw every shot he could possibly think of from full mount. Martine took countless shots here, but he covered up and the referee didn’t stop it. This round was just a beatdown, but I thought Martinez did enough defensively to avoid a 10-7. I scored the round 10-8 Romanov.

Romanov wasted no time in bringing Martinez back to the ground. This round looked very similar to the last one, except Romanov was more interested in securing a submission then finishing him with ground and pound for the majority of the round. He didn’t find it, and he resumed the beatdown later in the round. Romanov eventually found the arm triangle, and he finished the fight.

WINNER: Alexander Romanov by arm triangle at 4:22 of Round 2

Fights don’t get any more one-sided than this. Romanov absolutely destroyed Martinez here, and he picked up his 12th professional win, as well as his 12th finish, to extend his undefeated record. Heavyweights a barren division, so I think you can write this man down as a legitimate prospect. He is definitely somebody I’ll be keeping track of in the future.

ROOSEVELT ROBERTS (10-2, 155.5) VS KEVIN CROOM (21-12, 154.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Croom dropped Roberts with a left hook in the opening seconds of the fight, and as Roberts picked himself up, Croom grabbed his neck, and he locked in a standing guillotine that finished the fight.

WINNER: Kevin Croom by guillotine at 0:31 of Round 1

Roberts was the biggest favorite on this card, but the odds were clearly of no concern for Kevin Croom. This is the type of debut that every fighter wants to make, and he did it against a very tough opponent in Roosevelt Roberts. This was the quickest finish for a debuting fighter in the history of the UFC lightweight division.

SIJARA EUBANKS (6-4, 135) VS JULIA AVILA (8-1, 135) – FLYWEIGHT

These two were trading wildly, to begin this fight. Avila seemed to be landing the bigger strikes, so Eubanks just drove Avila across the cage, picked her up, and brought her down to the ground. She quickly moved into side control and began to work. Avila scrambled to her feet, and then got a takedown of her own. She controlled Eubanks on the ground until the final second of the round, where Eubanks reversed the position to end the round on top. Close round.

In the opening minute of the second round they began to trade as they did in the first, but Avila attempted a kick to the body, and Eubanks caught it, bringing Avila down to the ground. Eubanks came very close to securing an arm triangle, but she couldn’t quite get it. Eubanks controlled almost the entirety of this round, and I had the fight tied at 19-19 going into the third.

Once again, they began the round trading hands, and then Eubanks changed levels in an attempt to bring the fight to the ground. Avila defended this attempt, but she was grounded by a single leg by Eubanks not long thereafter. Much like the last round, Eubanks dominated the round with her grappling, and despite a late submission attempt from Avila, Eubanks very clearly won this round and the fight.

WINNER: Sijara Eubanks by unanimous decision (29-27 all)

All three judges scored the second round 10-8 for Eubanks, which was fair in my opinion. While Avila is clearly a hard hitter, Eubanks was the better grappler, and she had a very solid game plan in the last two rounds. She is now 4-2 in the UFC, and in her post-fight interview, she expressed her interest in fighting once more this year, as well as her desire to pick up a UFC finish.

The main card broadcast started with a tribute to Navid Afkari, who was executed earlier in the day by the Iranian Government. 

BILLY QUARANTILLO (14-2, 145.5) VS KYLE NELSON (13-3, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Nelson opened up with a big right hand, and he seemed very confident in his power early. he landed a nice combination that prompted Quarantillo to close the distance and shoot for a takedown, but Nelson defended it. His bodywork in the opening round was very strong. Quarantillo landed a series of body kicks and stumbled Nelson with a kick to his lead leg. Quarantillo succeeded on his next takedown attempt, but Nelson popped right back up. Nelson landed some more solid body shots near the end of the round. This was a very close round.

Both men continued to swing heavily in the second round. Nelson defended a pair of takedown attempts from Quarantillo, and they exchanged huge blows against the fence. Quarantillo landed some really solid elbows throughout this round from the clinch. When they finally separated from the clinch, Nelson looked exhausted and Quarantillo began to walk him down. Nelson couldn’t take Quarantillo’s offense at this point and shot for a takedown of his own to no avail. He made it out of the round, but momentum was definitely

Seconds into the final round, Quarantillo hit Nelson with a quick right hand, and Nelson went down face-first.

WINNER: Billy Quarantillo by KO at 0:07 of Round 3

This was a really fun fight. Both of these guys were aiming for a knockout from the beginning of this one, but Quarantillo had a lot more in the gas tank and took over this fight in the second round. He picked up a highlight-reel finish here and is now 3-0 in the UFC.

BOBBY GREEN (26-10-1, 156) VS ALAN PATRICK (15-2, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Patrick immediately shot for a takedown but found himself on the bottom when they landed. Patrick escaped to his feet and immediately pursued another takedown, but Green lifted him and slammed him down, once again assuming the dominant position. This sequence repeated itself, but this time Patrick attempted an armbar, not allowing Green to get too comfortable on the ground. Still, this round was all Green.

Green started the second round with another takedown. Patrick just had nothing to offer him. He couldn’t wrestle with Green, and it appeared the last thing he wanted to do was stand with him. Green was ahead going into the final round.

The third round looked the same as the last two. Late in the round, Patrick connected a head kick, which was his best moment of the fight, but immediately ate a combination of punches that backed him up. 30-27 Green.

WINNER: Bobby Green by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Patrick’s last fight was a knockout loss nearly two years ago, and he looked very rusty in there. Green won every minute of every round of this fight. It wasn’t particularly entertaining, but there was no reason for Green to take any risks when he was so clearly ahead on the scorecards. Bobby Green has been very active in the “COVID era”, fighting (and winning) three times already. He has looked revitalized this year and is currently on his longest winning streak since 2014. In his post-fight interview, Bobby Green spoke about how he was heartbroken by Navid Afkari’s execution and was uninterested in discussing his fight.

ED HERMAN (25-14, 1 NC, 205.5) VS MIKE RODRIGUEZ (11-4, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Rodriguez was letting loose with his kicks early, mixing them up between the body and the legs. They spent a significant portion of the round in the clinch against the cage, where neither man was able to pull ahead. Rodriguez rocked Herman with an elbow as Herman charged forward, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on the moment, and Herman held him against the cage until he recovered.

Herman brought the fight back to the cage to begin the second round. After wearing him down for the first half of the round, Herman finally dragged him down, but he couldn’t keep him there for long. With two minutes to go in the round, they separated, and Rodriguez landed a solid kick to the body. Rodriguez went right back to the cage and caught Herman with a knee to the body that grounded him. The referee thought this was a low blow, and separated the fighters. Herman milked it, and this was a very tough turn of events for Mike Rodriguez, who was likely seconds away from winning the fight. The fight resumed with a minute remaining after Herman took significant time to recover. Rodriguez continued to attack the body and Herman went down once again. The round ended shortly after he went down, and he

Herman took Rodriguez down at the start of the third round, and as Rodriguez worked his way up against the cage, Herman began to eat elbow after elbow until he sort of collapsed to the ground once more, and as Rodriguez looked to finish the fight on the ground, Herman grabbed an arm, transitioned to a kimura, and Rodriguez was forced to tap out.

WINNER: Ed Herman by kimura at 2:41 of Round 3

Well, this was a tough loss for Mike Rodriguez, who probably should have won this fight by second-round TKO. The “low blow” was very clear to the body, and this was a mistake by referee Chris Tognoni that ultimately cost Mike Rodriguez the fight.

As far as the rest of the fight is concerned, Rodriguez dominated Herman and had him hurt multiple times. Herman does deserve credit for picking up the submission in the third round after taking so much damage earlier in the fight. Herman has won his last three fights.

ROXANNE MODAFFERI (24-17, 125) VS ANDREA LEE (11-4, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

These two fought previously in 2014 at Invicta FC 10, a fight that Modafferi won by split decision.

Lee brought Modafferi down with an impressive hip toss. Modafferi eventually worked her way up and then dragged Lee back to the ground with a body lock. She landed some decent strikes on the ground here, but Lee was able to escape the position and end the round on her feet. This round was close, with Lee controlling the first half and Modafferi the second, but Roxanne did more when she was in control, and she won the first round.

They spent this round on the feet, and while Modafferi’s striking has improved significantly over the years, she still wasn’t getting the better of these exchanges. Modafferi was just running into strikes, and Lee did a good job of stopping all of Modafferi’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground. Lee hurt Modafferi with a spinning back fist but wasn’t able to follow up on it. Modafferi ended the round with a takedown. I had the fight scored 19-19 going into the final round.

Both fighters were having difficulty connecting with big strikes in the third round. Neither was pulling ahead during their exchanges on the feet, and Modafferi took Lee down near the cage, which was a big moment during a very close round. I scored the fight 29-28 for Modafferi.

WINNER: Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

Not the most entertaining fight, but there were some good takedowns from both fighters scattered throughout, and in the second round Andrea Lee looked sharp on the feet. Modafferi knew she had to get the fight to the ground, and she did just that, after struggling with her takedown attempts earlier in the fight. Since returning to the UFC in 2017, Modafferi has gone 4-4.

OTTMAN AZAITAR (12-0, 156) VS KHAMA WORTHY (16-6, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT

After feeling each other out for a minute, Azaitar exploded with what looked to be at least a fourteen-hit combo of strikes that knocked him down, and Azaitar followed him to the ground, landing strikes until the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Ottman Azaitar by TKO at 1:33 of Round 1

Azaitar has picked up first-round stoppages in both of his UFC appearances thus far and has ten first-round finishes throughout his professional career. This guy has legitimate power, as well as the killer instinct that’s necessary to be able to come out and swarm a hard hitter like Khama Worthy. He is in arguably the toughest division in the entire sport, so there is no easy route to the top, but he is certainly someone to keep an eye on.

MICHELLE WATERSON (17-8, 115) VS ANGELA HILL (12-8, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT

Angela Hill was looking good to begin this fight, moving in and out of range, allowing her to land her shots while avoiding Waterson’s. She had a lot of success with her hooks, and Waterson quickly began to swell up below her right eye. Waterson landed an elbow in the clinch, which was her best shot of the round. Hill defended a takedown attempt from Waterson, and Waterson was begging to swell up on the left side of her temple as well. 10-9 Hill.

Both fighters landed solid right hands within the first minute of the second round. Hill defended another takedown attempt from Waterson but ate a right hand and a head kick. Hill wobbled Waterson a bit with a right hand, and from this point onward Hill really took control of the striking in the round. Hill continued to defend takedown attempts from Waterson, but Waterson did begin to land some solid strikes of her own later in the round. Still, this was another round for Angela Hill.

Hill’s jab left Waterson bleeding from the nose, and as she went for a knee, Waterson grabbed on to it and brought Hill down in the center of the octagon. Hill crawled her way to the cage, and Waterson was having difficulty advancing her position. Eventually, Hill attempted to scramble out of the position, but Waterson kept her down and controlled her for the remainder of the round. Hill landed an illegal up kick at the end of the round that referee Mark Goddard gave her a warning for. I had the fight scored 29-28 Hill going into the fourth.

Hill defended Waterson’s first couple takedown attempts of the round. Waterson was looking a lot better on the feet in his round, and Hill appeared to be slowing down a bit. She was still able to shrug off Waterson’s takedown attempts though, which kept the fight in her domain. Waterson landed a series of sidekicks to the body and then threw one to the face. This was the closest round of the fight this far, but I gave the edge to Waterson.

Waterson continued to throw a high output of kicks in the fifth. She was still trying to get the fight to the ground as well, but Hill’s takedown defense held up. This round was razor close on the feet, with Waterson landing better combinations, but Hill packing a little more into every punch. With a minute to go, this round was still up for the taking, and Hill landed a solid right hand, which Waterson responded to with a wild combination of kicks. They traded shots against the cage to end the round. I ultimately scored the fight 48-47 Hill.

WINNER: Michelle Waterson by split decision (48-47, 49-46, 47-48)

This was a solid main event and a super close fight. I was a bit surprised by the decision, but it was a very close fight. 49-46 Waterson was an… interesting… scorecard. I can’t imagine giving Waterson one of the first two rounds. Nonetheless, she made a lot of good adjustments throughout the fight, and she got her hand raised at the end of the fight. The takedown in the third round changed the momentum of the fight, but Hill responded well in the fifth round, especially considering she hadn’t fought a five rounder in years. Waterson called for a fight against a top contender, but I honestly don’t know if that’s in the books for her right now. Women’s strawweight is stacked, and with so many of the top fighters in the division out of action, for the time being, it feels like the most sensible fight for Waterson will likely be the winner of Claudia Gadelha versus Yan Xiaonan.

For Hill, this was a setback, but she has improved rapidly throughout the last two years, and I imagine she will come back stronger following this loss. She notably became the first African American woman to headline a UFC event here, and she has developed a solid fanbase. A fight against Marina Rodriguez or a rematch with Tecia Torres would be solid next outings for her.