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In five-round battle that was as closely-contested as they come, Michelle Waterson had just a little bit more in the tank down the stretch.
The former Invicta Fighting Championships title holder edged Angela Hill via split decision in the UFC Fight Night 177 headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night in a high-paced five-round affair. Waterson received 49-46 and 48-47 tallies from the cageside judges, while a third saw the fight 48-47 in favor of Hill. In victory, “The Karate Hottie” improves to 2-1 in UFC main event bouts and halts a two-bout skid.
Coming off a split-decision loss to Carla Esparza in her most recent outing, Waterson (18-8, 6-4 UFC) was happy to emerge on the right side of the scorecards this time around. Hill, meanwhile, is now 0-3 in contests that go to split decision in the Octagon.
“I was confident,” Waterson said. “You never want to leave it in the hands of the judges. You get another split decision, it doesn’t leave a good feeling in your stomach.”
Hill (12-9, 7-9 UFC) got off to a quick start, landing powerful right hands repeatedly over the course of the first 10 minutes. As a result of the damage absorbed, Waterson developed a mouse on her head and was bleeding from her nose as the fight progressed.
Still, the Jackson-Wink MMA product found another gear in Round 3, when she landed the fight’s first takedown and spent about three minutes in top control. It was also the bout’s lone takedown, as Hill defended Waterson’s other 17 attempts.
“I wanted to submit her,” Waterson said. “I wanted to take her down and finish the fight.”
From there, Waterson was able to increase the volume of her offense on the feet, blending a variety of kicks with her punches. Hill was still able to connect with more power, and she finished the fight with a flurry of knees and elbows in the clinch before the Round 5 horn. It still wasn’t enough for “Overkill,” who was making her fourth appearance of 2020.
Azaitar Runs Through Worthy
Ottman Azaitar is quickly establishing a reputation as a wrecking machine.
The 30-year-old Cologne, Germany, native made short work of Khama Worthy, winning via technical knockout in the evening’s lightweight co-main event. Azaitar (13-0, 2-0 UFC) brought a halt to the contest with a barrage of unanswered punches to the side of his opponent’s head at the 1:33 mark of Round 1. Worthy (16-7, 2-1 UFC) saw a seven-bout professional winning streak snapped in defeat.
Azaitar rattled his Worthy with a right hand-left hook combination early and he blitzed his opponent from there, teeing off with heavy punches in close quarters. Worthy then fell to the canvas on all fours and Azaitar followed him down, where a barrage of unanswered strikes brought the bout to a close.
“The game plan was to go for three rounds, to not think about the knockout. When I get in such situations, I don’t stop — I don’t hit the brake,” Azaitar said. “If I get in such a situation, I cannot stop. If I smell blood, I want to eat.”
Azaitar has ended 10 of his 13 professional wins by knockout or technical knockout.
Modafferi Edges Lee in Rematch
Roxanne Modafferi improved to 2-0 against Andrea Lee, as she took a competitive unanimous decision in a flyweight scrap. All three judges submitted 29-28 scorecards in favor of “The Happy Warrior,” who also owns a split-decision triumph over Lee under the Invicta FC banner in 2014.
Modafferi’s (25-17, 4-5 UFC) grappling acumen proved to be the difference in a bout that hinged on a few key moments. The Syndicate MMA representative controlled a significant portion of Round 1 with top position and ground-and-pound, and she clinched her victory with a takedown with approximately two minutes remaining in the third period. Though Lee (11-5, 3-3 UFC) was able to land with greater volume on the feet — including a spinning back elbow in Round 2 that drew a reaction from Modafferi — it wasn’t enough to sway the judges in her favor.
Lee has lost three consecutive bouts.
Herman Scores Controversial Submission
Ed Herman took advantage of an apparent error by referee Chris Tognoni to rally for a submission triumph over Mike Rodriguez in a light heavyweight scrap. “The Ultimate Fighter 3” finalist framed a kimura to elicit the tapout 4:01 into the final frame for his third consecutive triumph.
Controversy struck in Round 2, when Rodriguez hurt his opponent with knees to the body against the fence, causing Herman (26-14, 1 NC, 13-10, 1 NC UFC) to slump to the canvas in pain. As Rodriguez stepped in to swarm for the finish, Tognoni elected to pause the bout for what he perceived to be a low blow. Though replays appeared to indicate that there was no foul, Herman used the recovery period to his advantage.
Despite that reprieve, things still looked good for Rodriguez, as he again hurt Herman with body work in Round 2 and rocked him with elbows to the side of the head while defending a takedown in the third frame. But just when the end appeared to be near for a grounded Herman, he secured the kimura, swept into top position and stepped over Rodriguez’s head to torque the maneuver. At that point, Rodriguez (11-5, 1 NC, 2-3, 1 NC UFC) had no choice but to tap.
Green Wins Third Straight
Bobby Green relied on takedowns, solid topside grappling and his usual crafty standup to take a three-round verdict against Alan Patrick Silva Alves at lightweight. All three cageside judges submitted 30-27 tallies in favor of Green. The former King of the Cage title holder has won three consecutive promotional appearances within a three-month span.
Though it was Patrick who attempted to initiate grappling exchanges, Green (27-10-1, 8-5-1 UFC) was the one who landed multiple takedowns. The 34-year-old Pinnacle MMA representative was effective from top position, as well, and he was able to nullify the Brazilian’s submission attempts while landing ground-and-pound.
When the fighters did stand, Green was typically elusive, and he began to touch his opponent’s chin with right hands in the final round. Patrick (15-3, 5-3 UFC), who was competing for the first time since October 2018, lost his second straight bout.
Quarantillo Gets One-Punch KO
Dana White’s Contender Series veteran Billy Quarantillo remained unbeaten in UFC competition, scoring a one-punch knockout of Kyle Nelson in a featherweight feature. Quarantillo brought a close to the contest just seven seconds into Round 3 with a clean right hand, possibly fracturing his opponent’s orbital in the process.
After a back-and-forth opening stanza where both competitors landed their share of heavy shots, Quarantillo (15-2, 3-0 UFC) began to take control in the second frame through takedowns and clinch work. Toward the end of that round, Nelson appeared to be fading badly, and that carried over into Round 3, when Quarantillo put his final stamp on the bout. Nelson (13-4, 1-3 UFC) stumbled backward for a moment before faceplanting on the canvas after absorbing the blow, bringing an abrupt end to the fight.
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