By Raphael Garcia
UFC Fight Night 104 is a low key event that doesn’t feature the big names or title fights that attract mainstream MMA fans and attention. However, there are a number of important fights taking place within the women’s strawweight division. One of those fights features Jessica Andrade, a woman who has burst into contention since joining the 115-pound weight class. For both Andrade and her opponent Angela Hill, their upcoming fight should set them up perfectly for more meaningful matchups in 2017.
Hill’s tenure under the Zuffa banner hasn’t been as good, but after a 1-2 run following her stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Hill had resurgence in Invicta, winning four straight fights and the promotion’s strawweight title. She was welcomed back into the UFC as a last minute replacement, but regulations around the UFC-USADA drug testing policy kept her out of competition. Now she’s headed back into the Octagon with a full camp to prepare and in dire need of a win.
On paper this may look like a striking matchup; Hill’s well-versed in Muay Thai striking and Andrade’s recent fights showcased her penchant for slugging it out with her competition. But Andrade has an ability to finish fights on the ground that is often overlooked. In fact, 7 of her 15 wins have come by submission. This is an area of weakness for Hill. Rose Namajunas took advantage of that weakness back at UFC 152. Hill’s worked on that weakness in the years since that fight, but that doesn’t mean she is capable enough to deal with this fight if it hits the floor.
Tecia Torres or Michelle Waterson, it would help her get into the conversation for a title eliminator. And Hill needs to get a quality win in the UFC to add validity to her return to the Octagon. The four wins in Invicta went a long way in helping her regain confidence, but now is the time for her to put that confidence to use and prove to everyone that she deserves a spot in this division.
Jessica Andrade vs. Angela Hill may not be a main card bout at UFC Fight Night 104, but it has implications for the winner when it comes to determining whether she appears on main cards in the near future. Andrade has more to immediately gain with a victory, but Hill is basically fighting for her position on the UFC roster, and she shouldn’t be overlooked in this fight. If you’re looking for a matchup that could steal the show on Saturday night, this bout is a strong candidate.