Nothing was easy in five rounds, but Michelle Waterson found a way to do just enough to win a hard-fought split decision over Angela Hill in the main event of UFC Vegas 10.
It was a back-and-forth war for the 25 minutes as Waterson and Hill brought each other’s best to the feet and onto the pitch. While the decision could have gone either way, it was Waterson who took the win with two judges giving him the win with cards of 49-46 and 48-47. The third official gave Hill the fight with a score of 48-47.
“I was confident [in the decision]Waterson said after raising his hand. “But we talked about it all the time before the fight, you never want to leave it in the hands of the judges.”
In her first main event, Hill was on offense early and often as she came after Waterson with true ferocity, throwing combinations and a powerful overhand right that has always found a home. By the end of the first round, Waterson had a mouse forming under his eye and swelling on the same side of his face after eating several stiff punches from Hill.
After starting the fight with more kicking, Waterson decided to test his hands against Hill, but that game plan backfired on him midway through the second round.
With Waterson ready to trade kicks on the feet, Hill grabbed the opening to unleash successive punches, including a stiff right hand that saw the jaw of former atomic weight champion Invicta FC twist from his face.
Over time, Hill became even more comfortable on the feet while picking and choosing his strikes. An early trade in round three saw Hill connect with a punch that immediately spilled blood from Waterson’s nose as she really started to bear the damage.
To her credit, Waterson was then able to secure a takedown where she was able to control Hill on the pitch. Waterson constantly sought to advance his position while also seeking to set up submissions, although Hill remained clear of any real issues.
As the fight moved into the Championship rounds, Waterson sought to show off his main event experience by ramping up his output with a volume hitting attack. Waterson was quick with her punches and she connected with several powerful side kicks that landed on the body and head, knocking Hill off balance.
The final five minutes saw Hill as the aggressor with the Waterson meter hitting with that same side kick continuing to pay dividends. In return, Hill’s best combinations came when she was able to lure Waterson into a boxing exchange – that is, when her hands landed on the target consistently.
As the fight drew to a close, Hill and Waterson decided to engage in one last wild exchange with the Weights of Straw kissing each other after bringing the best of each other for five rounds.
The judges certainly didn’t have it easy, but it was ultimately Waterson who got the nod while stopping his two-game losing streak to a heartbreaking pair of losses against two former champions in Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla. Esparza.
Overall, Waterson is now 4-2 in her last six fights and after securing a win in the main event, she’s looking for a quick path to the title contention.
“Whoever is the next candidate to fight for the belt,” Waterson said when asked who she wanted to face next. “I want to get to the belt as fast as possible.”