Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight prospects Angela Hill and Cortney Casey dueled last night (Aug. 25, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 135 inside Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
On paper, there were a number of similarities between Hill and Casey ahead of this bout. Both 31 year old athletes showed clear gifts that separated them from the rest of the division, but they also were rough around the edges. For Hill, her ground game needed development, whereas Casey needed to learn to make better in-fight decisions. Given the close nature of the bout, it was likely that whichever woman better improved upon liabilities would come out with the victory.
As most expected, Hill looked to utilize in-and-out movement against her larger opponent. In response, Casey attempted to time counter punches and interrupt Hill’s offense with low kicks. Early on, Hill did a lot of work her dipping jab and ducking overhand, looking to catch the taller woman with her head high.
By the halfway point in the round, something really changed. Casey was losing the activity battle while still landing good counters, prompting Hill to go full offense and pressure forward. Big shots were traded rather evenly, but Casey switched things up with a good takedown attempt.
She was unable to hold Hill down long though, as the kickboxer used an armbar to escape back to her feet. “Overkill” landed well to finished the round, and the two would-be contenders were pushing a brutal pace.
Casey opened the second round strong, timing a right hand counter and jamming Hill into the fence. Undeterred, Hill continued to push forward, backing Casey into the fence. That advantageous position didn’t do much for Hill though, as the women still traded fairly evenly.
Casey made an important adjustment, relying more on counter combinations than single counter shots. As a result, Casey’s counter flurries found a home more often. However, Hill did a phenomenal job to fight off a very deep takedown attempt, paying Casey back with some winging hooks and hard low kicks.
It was another very close round, with Hill pushing the pace and finishing strong despite many hard shots from “Cast Iron.”
Little changed in the third, as the exchanges continued at a great pace. Hill did make one important adjustment, as she refused to let Casey flurry without answering back — even if shots did land. Casey, to her credit, did a better job of moving forward, spending less time with her back on the fence as a result.
Both women finished the fight pushing hard and fighting through fatigue, and there was no clear winner. Ultimately, the judges awarded Casey the close split-decision victory.
This is Casey’s third straight fight that went to a split-decision, and she finally found herself on the right side of the judge’s call. The reason why? Volume, pure and simple. In her last two fights, Casey did not throw enough despite landing the harder shots, and she lost as a result.
“Cast Iron” seemed to have learned from those mistakes, and she landed well over 100 strikes this time around. It’s a valuable win for Casey, one that should see her face top 10 opposition next time out. If Casey can fight like this consistently, I like her odds in such a match up.
Ahead of this fight, Hill mentioned that she was working to improve her conditioning. That’s important for any combat athlete but absolutely vital for a volume striker like Hill. The results shined through against a fellow opponent who threw large numbers, as Hill pushed hard late in the fight and very arguably won.
Furthermore, that conditioning saved her in the second round. Casey drove deep into a double leg, and Hill was in a bad spot. It would’ve been very, very easy to accept the takedown and lose the round cleanly. Instead, Hill had the energy to dig deep and fight it off, keeping her in the fight even if the judges decided against her.
As for the decision itself, I thought Hill edged it by a very slim margin, but it was such a close fight that I have no real argument. Both women performed quite well and showed true improvement, perhaps the best part of an already fun fight.
Last night, Cortney Casey was awarded the split-decision call in a close scrap. Who should Casey face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 135 “Gaethje vs. Vick” results and play-by-play, click HERE!