Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight prospects Cortney Casey and Angela Hill will throw down this Saturday (Aug. 25, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 135 inside Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
This bout stands as an interesting match up of Strawweight up-and-comers yet to capitalize on their full potential. Casey is big for the division with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt and power in her hands, but she has yet to defeat a top opponent. Worse still, she came up short in a pair of very winnable split-decisions in her last two bouts. Meanwhile, Hill is a talented kickboxer still developing the rest of her game, a combination that has resulted in Hill alternating wins and losses.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Jessica Aguilar (UFC 211), Randa Markos (UFC 202)
Key Losses: Michelle Waterson (UFC on FOX 29), Felice Herrig (UFC 218), Claudia Gadelha (UFC Fight Night 100)
Keys to Victory: There’s really no reason for Casey’s record to be quite so average. As mentioned, she’s a strong athlete with a well-rounded game and should probably be in the Top 10 if not for some bad in-fight choices.
Case in point, Casey very much deserved to win her last fight with Michelle Waterson. Each time Casey advanced and threw punches, she seemed to stun her opponent. Instead of taking that as a note to throw more punches, Casey allowed herself to be drawn into a grappling match, where the fight was much closer.
In this match up, Casey again faces an opponent who has one clear area where she can compete and one where Casey is at a large advantage. On the feet, Hill is the cleaner technician, though Casey has a bit of size and likely punching power on her. In short, that’s a toss up. On the mat? Not so much. Casey is the better grappler by a fair margin, and size is more helpful in wrestling exchanges than anything else. There’s still no guarantee that Casey can get the improving Hill down, but if that’s not a major part of her initial strategy, it’s a mistake.
Key Wins: Maryna Moroz (UFC on FOX 28), Ashley Yoder (TUF 25 Finale), Kaline Medeiros (Invicta FC 20)
Key Losses: Rose Namajunas (UFC 192), Tecia Torres (UFC 188), Nina Ansaroff (UFC Fight Night 120)
Keys to Victory: Hill entered UFC too early, faced stiff competition immediately, and lost to a pair of the division’s best. As a result, she went back to Invicta FC, where she developed her skills and captured the Strawweight title.
Nowadays, she has been unable to put a win streak together, but Hill is a ranked fighter with losses only to Top 10-ranked foes.
This will be a real test of Hill’s ability to sprawl-and-brawl for three rounds. Casey represents a solid dual-faceted threat to Hill: a hard puncher with the more dangerous ground game. Of the two, Hill is more high volume, whereas Casey tends to work in spurts.
As the fighter who works better in a consistent rhythm, one of Hill’s main objectives should be to pick and choose when to exchange. Casey tends to let long periods of time go by without doing much, and that’s Hill’s chance to score. When Casey does flip the switch and go after Hill, “Overkill” would be wise to circle off and stay defensive until Casey settles back down. Otherwise, Hill leaves herself more vulnerable to getting clipped or double legged in a prolonged exchange.
Bottom Line: These two women are in similar positions, looking to improve upon their respective flaws and make the full leap to contender.
I’ve been a bit harsh on Casey’s last couple fights, but she could very easily be on a three-fight win streak against high-level competition. The margins by which she lost were extremely small — or outright nonexistent depending on your opinion of the judging — but both losses could’ve been clear wins with small adjustments. If the 31-year-old athlete can get back in the win column, she’s definitely proven herself capable of competing with the division’s best.
As for Hill, her last fight was the biggest win of her career. Two-fight losing streak or no, Casey is a very tough opponent, one that would be a very quality win for Hill’s resume. If Hill can string a pair of high-quality wins together, it’s likely just what she needs to get another chance at a Top 10-ranked opponent.
For either woman, the time is now to emerge as a contender. They’re both 31 years of age with a similar number of fights — they can not be looked as a young prospects with many years to develop. With that in mind, a loss costs the defeated athlete valuable time.
At UFC Fight Night 135, Cortney Casey and Angela Hill will battle on the main card. Which Strawweight will take a step closer to the title mix?