Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight talents Claudia Gadelha and Angela Hill will clash this Saturday (May 16, 2020) at UFC on ESPN 8 from inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
This is really a bout of conflicting momentum. Gadelha first entered UFC as an instant contender, the uncrowned champion, due to her dominance in Invicta FC. However, her pair of losses to Joanna Jedrzejczyk really derailed her career, as her performances began to falter. On the other hand, Hill washed out of UFC due to her inexperience on the mat, but her second run has been much more successful. “Overkill” has won three straight, making a habit of jumping on short-notice opportunities in the process.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Carla Esparza (UFC 225), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 212), Randa Markos (UFC 239), Courtney Casey (UFC Fight Night 100)
Key Losses: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC TUF 23 Finale, UFC on FOX 13), Jessica Andrade (UFC Fight Night 117), Nina Ansaroff (UFC 231)
Keys to Victory: Gadelha’s problems remain with conditioning and consistency more than any one flaw. She’s also in something of a transitional period now, having moved her camp to New Jersey to work with Mark Henry’s team. Her first fight since the move showed a bit more of a focus on kickboxing process, but the jiu-jitsu black belt’s best work is still on the mat.
In this fight especially, the game plan will be important.
Gadelha isn’t an incompetent striker by any means, but she’s still pretty straightforward. Whether she’s walking foes down or working from the outside, it’s really all about Gadelha’s right hand. Against a more versatile striker with good footwork in Hill, Gadelha is likely to hit a lot of air and eat counters if she focuses on her kickboxing.
Instead, it’s time for a return of her blast double leg, which is one of the division’s best when Gadelha actually commits to it. Furthermore, Hill likes to mix up her combinations with lots of kicks — catch one and shoot! Hill is such a high-activity striker that there will be opportunities for Gadelha to wrestle, which is undoubtedly her path to victory.
Key Wins: Maryna Moroz (UFC on FOX 28), Loma Lookboonmee (UFC Fight Night 168), Hannah Cifers (UFC Fight Night 166)
Key Losses: Yan Xiaonan (UFC 238), Rose Namajunas (UFC 192), Tecia Torres (UFC 188), Nina Ansaroff (UFC Fight Night 120)
Keys to Victory: Hill is a Muay Thai striker first and foremost, but the influence of her camp Alliance MMA is obvious. She moves a lot, feinting and false starting to draw out offense, which she often evades and returns with a solid combination of punches, kicks, and elbows.
Frankly, that’s a pretty great style to deal with a straightforward, power-based fighter like Gadelha. Hill has the movement to negate takedown attempts before they happen and make power punches miss, while climbing ahead on the scorecards with counters and rangy strikes of her own.
However, a single takedown can ruin all that in an instant. For the reason, it’s imperative that Hill mind the small details and make adjustments. This is not the match up for 7-strike combinations, nor should Hill be finishing her counter combinations with elbows into the clinch. She’s quite good at that and it’s a great skill, but it’ll likely get her taken down here.
Similarly, the calf and head are body targets for kicks than the thigh or mid-section. Strike selection will be hugely important for Hill, as a single error could cost her the fight.
Neither woman is currently in the title picture, but it’s an important fight for both.
Gadelha, who was ranked in the top five for several years, is now barely hanging on at No. 15. She really cannot afford another loss, which would completely remove her from relevance at 115-pounds. Instead, a win over Hill would make it two straight — her first win streak since 2017. That’s not enough to make up for all the ground lost, but at least it’s a start!
Alternatively, this is a major opportunity for Hill, a chance to capture the biggest win of her career. Despite her current struggles, Gadelha has still only lost to top-tier Strawweights. Hill would like to add her name to that list, and defeating Gadelha would go a long way in proving that the new-and-improved “Overkill” is ready to make a run at the top.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 8 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.
For more news and notes on UFC on ESPN 8 click here.
At UFC on ESPN 8, Claudia Gadelha and Angela Hill will throw down in the co-main event. Which woman will have her hand raised?