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What We Learned at UFC Fight Night: Waterson vs. Hill

| September 14, 2020 1:16 pm PDT
UFC Fight Night: Waterson vs. Hill

It was lambasted by a sizeable portion of the MMA community when announced as a headline fight. It was commonly regarded as undeserving of its place as a bill topper. But despite it all, Michelle Waterson vs. Angela Hill goes down as one of the most memorable scraps of 2020.

Not only was this fight highly entertaining but was also very controversial. In the end, Waterson emerged with a win via split decision, but Hill could count herself very unlucky to lose the fight. Her display really merited more.

Overall, Saturday was a strange night in Vegas, with multiple upsets as well as arguably the biggest robbery seen in Sin City since the Circus Circus was hit in 1993. You just couldn’t take your eyes off the action for a second.

Here are five things we learned from UFC Fight Night: Waterson vs. Hill.

Ottman Azaitar is One to Watch

Undoubtedly a prospect before this fight, the Moroccan’s TKO win over Khama Worthy in just 1:33 of the first stanza upped the hype. Azaitar is now the proud holder of two first-round finishes in just two UFC fights with an overall record of 13-0 in MMA.

Worthy, previously unbeaten in the UFC, initially protested the decision to stop the contest. But “The Deathstar” appeared to acquiesce when viewing the post-fight replay from inside the Octagon. It was unfortunate for Worthy to see his seven-fight streak snapped, but he was well beaten on the night.

As for Azaitar? Well, it’s clear that he caught the attention of the wider fanbase while competing under the spotlight of the co-main event. The 30-year-old is now being hyped up as the latest elite product from Ali Abdelaziz’s Dominance MMA stable, which includes the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kamaru Usman, Justin Gaethje, Gilbert Burns, and Cody Garbrandt.

So, what’s next for Azaitar? Is he legit, or are there obvious holes in his game to pick at? There will be stiffer tests ahead that will give us a firmer answer to that question, no doubt. For now, let’s just say that he is certainly one to watch.

The Officials Were the Bad Guys… Again

This card was lambasted by fans throughout fight week for an apparent lack of quality. But at the end of the night, it was the amateurish actions of certain officials that drew the ire of viewers.

Even UFC President Dana White expressed his frustration at Chris Tognoni’s ‘disgusting’ handling of the Ed Herman vs. Mike Rodriguez fight.

The referee’s blunders cost Rodriguez a TKO win on at least two occasions. First, he stopped the fight for an alleged low blow that never was. Rodriguez came close to stopping him again, only for Tognoni to allow the fight to proceed.

With the referee watching, Herman used his foot to illegally to gain leverage on the fence and landed a kimura that won him the fight. You couldn’t help but feel bad for Rodriguez, who was later awarded his win bonus from White, despite losing.

In a super-close main event between Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill, one referee seemed to have plucked the scores from out of thin air.  Judges Chris Lee and Derek Cleary awarded the fight 48-47 to Waterson and Hill, respectively, while Sal D’Amato somehow gave Waterson every round but the first.

Wut?

Ed Herman Marches On

When all is said and done, Herman has a submission win on his record.

Sure, the fans might not like it. There are plenty that will not forgive nor forget. But at the end of the day, Herman demonstrated why he is a fighter that you just cannot take your eyes off for one second.

Herman’s shocking submission win over Rodriguez came with just 59 minutes left on the buzzer. Did he deserve the spoils? Probably not. But the fact of the matter is that he defied the odds to walk away with his third win on the bounce.

You have to go all the way back to 2012 to find the last time Herman put a three-fight win streak together. Set to turn 40 in less than three weeks, Herman will be eyeing up a way of pushing himself into the top fifteen. But don’t expect too many fans to be delighted for him.

Depending on his next opponent, Herman might fancy his chances of sticking around a little longer. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A Night for the Upsets?

Matt Frevola’s late withdrawal against Roosevelt Roberts presented a golden opportunity for Kevin Croom. It was one that he took with both hands.

With 32 fights under various promotional banners, “The Hard-Hitting Hillbilly” could have been forgiven for thinking his UFC dream was done and dusted. At 33 years old, it was unlikely that he would get the call.

But Croom did. What’s more, he repaid the faith shown in him by submitting top prospect Roosevelt Roberts with a vicious standing guillotine in just 31 seconds. In doing so, he recorded the fastest lightweight debut win in UFC history.

Another prospect, Andrea Hill, was outfoxed by Roxanne Modafferi for the second time to find herself suffering a three-fight skid. Lee was 11-2 up until June 2019 and was touted as a potential opponent for flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko. It’s safe to say that it’s back to the drawing board for “KGB.”

Perhaps the biggest upset of the night came when Sijara Eubanks roughed up -300 favorite with the top sites for UFC betting, Julio Avila. This was the first time since November 2018 that the 35-year-old has recorded back to back. It was an excellent result for Eubanks, who improves to 2-2 from her last four.

Dana White Was Right

When White confirmed that Waterson vs. Hill would headline the UFC Vegas 10 event, there was understandable confusion.

For instance, both were both coming off losses. You could hardly call them the most spectacular finishers on the planet. Before this fight, their resumes showed that they owned just one Fight of the Night bonus between them. Naturally, “why are they headlining” was the accepted mantra among many disgruntled fans.

In the end, Waterson and Hill made their detractors eat their words. This was an all-out war that was a pleasure to watch and showcased a lot about both fighters than many of us had previously known. It was a very exciting scrap with a lot of heart shown by these warriors.

Personally, I scored the fight for Hill and was upset to see her on the wrong end of a second contentious split decision. Especially given the pride she took in becoming the first woman of color to headline a UFC event.

There was little between both ladies at the end of the fight; seemingly, all was left inside the cage. Perhaps this is enough to consider a rematch? If so, I am not averse to these two running it back in another bout at the end of the year, even if it is not a five rounder.

Fair play to White (and the UFC) for having the nuts to put this one at the top of the bill.

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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