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UFC Vegas 10 preview, ‘Waterson vs Hill’ predictions

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UFC Fight Night: Open Workouts Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back in action this weekend with the UFC Vegas 10 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, scheduled for Sat., Sept. 12, 2020 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, and headlined by the strawweight showdown between top contenders Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill. Elsewhere on the main card, which airs exclusively on ESPN+, surging lightweight sensation Khama Worthy collides with undefeated German “Bulldozer” Ottman Azaitar.

Before we dive into the main and co-main events, be sure to check out the complete UFC Vegas 10 preliminary card breakdown, expertly deconstructed by the jet-setting Patrick Stumberg here and here. Fighter-turned-writer-turned-fighter again, Andrew Richardson, did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the main card right here. For the latest “Waterson vs. Hill” odds and betting lines click here.

Let’s get to work ...

115 lbs.: Michelle Waterson vs. Angela Hill

Michelle “Karate Hottie” Waterson

Record: 17-8 | Age: 34 | Betting line: +105
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 9 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 5’3“ | Reach: 62” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.31 | Striking accuracy: 52%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.79 | Striking Defense: 48%
Takedown Average: 1.68 (50% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 67%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Decision loss to Carla Esparza

Angela “Overkill” Hill

Record: 12-8 | Age: 35 | Betting line: -125
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 6 DEC
Height: 5’3“ | Reach: 64.5” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.76 | Striking accuracy: 49%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 5.17 | Striking Defense: 64%
Takedown Average: 0.47 (37% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 72%
Current Ranking: No. 13 | Last fight: Decision loss to Claudia Gadelha

It can be challenging to look at the career of Michelle Waterson and draw anything conclusive — good or bad — about what she’s done in nine trips to the Octagon. One thing we can say for certain is that she’s never been able to rise to the occasion, dropping high-profile fights against the likes of ex-champions Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, just to name a few. You can argue that Waterson, who is halfway to her 35th birthday, is a natural atomweight after proving her mettle at 105 pounds under the Invicta FC banner and may be competing at a marked disadvantage against some of the bigger, stronger strawweights. If you asked me what her biggest win to date was, I’m not sure I could give you a clearcut answer. Paige VanZant? Karolina Kowalkiewicz? I also can’t explain why a prolific finisher like “Karate Hottie” has gone to a decision in her last six contests. I suppose the only thing that really matters for this latest appearance is whether or not Waterson can outperform the resurgent Angela Hill on fight night.

It’s hard to not like what Hill has done thus far in MMA. She entered Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) with just one professional fight at a time when Waterson was already Invicta champ. “Overkill” was summarily bounced from the competition, brought back to help populate an anemic division, then cut after failing to perform. Undaunted, Hill racked up a bunch of regional wins before earning a second shot at UFC stardom where she’s now won three of her last four (or four straight, depending on how you scored her Claudia Gadelha fight). Like Waterson, Hill has struggled to stay consistent over the years so it’s hard to know whether these last two years are part of a run at the title or just one of many hot streaks that will soon end with a couple of disappointing losses. At age 35, there’s not much room for another do-over. I’m also not gonna break out the bubbly to celebrate her level of competition, which outside of Gadelha, continues to underwhelm.

I do like the contrasting styles in this matchup. Waterson has smooth striking with a black belt in American freestyle karate against the rough-and-tumble Muay Thai skills of Hill, who displays an aggressive, fan-friendly offense in most fights. I think the “Overkill” team has to be particularly weary of Waterson’s ground game, which has been good enough for nine submission victories. If “Karate Hottie” implements an intelligent gameplan that prioritizes winning over entertainment, this is her fight to lose. She’s more polished in every discipline and has faced much tougher competition. My only reservation is all that “Mom Champ” crap she’s peddling on social media. If Waterson is content with being a fitness instructor on Instagram and just wants to fight to scratch that competitive itch, she’s going to get knocked out by Hill, a hungry striker who still treats every bout like it’s life-or-death.

Prediction: Waterson def. Hill by submission

Note: the following prediction was written by “X-Factor” author Andrew Richardson, who seems to enjoy doing extra work for no apparent reason.

155 lbs.: Khama Worthy vs. Ottman Azaitar

Khama “Deathstar” Worthy

Record: 16-6 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -135
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 5 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 5’11“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.44 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.09 | Striking Defense: 49%
Takedown Average: 0 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 57%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Submission win over Luis Pena

Ottman “Bulldozer” Azaitar

Record: 12-0 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +115
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 5’8“ | Reach: 71” | Stance: Switch
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 7.61 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.25 | Striking Defense: 57%
Takedown Average: 0 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Knockout win over Teemu Packalen

Ottman Azaitar debuted almost exactly one year ago, scoring one of the cleanest overhand right knockouts you’ll ever see. “Bulldozer” typically wins via knockout, crushing his foes with heavy punches and making the most of his physicality with power shots. Admittedly, Azaitar’s competition level on the regional scene wasn’t anything special, and Teemu Packalen is hardly the stiffest test for a UFC debut.

Alternatively, Khama Worthy was thrown to the wolves in his debut, only to hand Devonte Smith his first professional loss in a massive upset. “Deathstar” continued his winning ways against Luis Pena, shutting down his rangier foe with heavy counter shots and forcing a bad takedown attempt that let him lock up the neck.

This is a tricky one. At 33 years old and eight years into his pro career, Worthy is coming into his own. He’s a veteran who has gained confidence, and as a result, everything is clicking and he’s winning fights.

He’s definitely a better lightweight than his 16-6 record would typically imply.

At the same time, Worthy has five losses via knockout, and Azaitar will be throwing bricks at his chin. It’s one thing to counter Pena’s long jab, but Azaitar is going to be bullying his way forward and throwing heat.

It’ll be a fire fight, which means it’s difficult not to side with the man who’s never been stopped by strikes.

Prediction: Azaitar by knockout

Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 10 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 10 fight card this weekend RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ 8 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 10: “Waterson vs. Hill” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.