Michelle Waterson edges Angela Hill in thriller

LAS VEGAS — There was guaranteed to be a fighter who was extremely angry when Saturday’s strawweight main event between Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill ended at Apex.

Both women dished out a lot of punishment and fought brilliantly. But there were a lot of close rounds and not a lot to pick between with the fighters.

Waterson, whose kicks seemed to get her back into the fight after Hill got off early, earned a critical split decision victory to enable her to snap a two-fight losing streak.

Judges had it 49-46 and 48-47 for Waterson and 48-47 for Hill. Sports Grind Entertainment had it 48-47 for Waterson. When ring announcer read the decisive scorecard, Waterson collapsed in joy while an angry Hill stomped out of the Octagon.

It was that kind of a fight. Each woman gave and took a tremendous amount of punishment and could make a reasonable argument that she deserved the victory.

The stakes were huge, as well, with both coming off losses and the loser likely to fall well out of title contention.

For Hill, it was the second bitter defeat in a row. She lost a split decision in May to Claudia Gadelha that an overwhelming amount of neutral observers felt she deserved to win.

She came out hard Saturday and was peppering Waterson with strikes. Waterson started slowly, but once she got her kicks working for her, she made it more difficult for Hill to get to the distance she wanted to fight at while at the same time racking up scoring blows.

The fifth was fought at a furious pace and the intensity of the battle showed on the marks on both women’s faces. Waterson had a hematoma over her left eye, while Hill had welts all over her face.

Only Waterson, though, left with a smile on her face.

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