Angela Hill says controversial loss only helped her mindset ahead of UFC on ESPN+ 35

LAS VEGAS – Angela Hill still believes she should have been granted a victory over Claudia Gadelha in their contentious May contest, but she’s not letting the split-decision loss bring her down. Instead, Hill said the result only served to inspire her progress a fighter – even if it did officially snap a three-fight winning streak.

“It just proved to me that I’m good,” Hill told MMA Junkie. “It was one thing beating those three girls beforehand. Those girls were either new to the scene or they hadn’t really proved themselves yet, but Gadelha, she’s been around. She’s been the No. 2 in the strawweight division for the longest time. So being able to go in there and perform that way against her, I felt like it was a huge confidence boost to me, and if anything, it just proved to me that, hey, I could have taken even more risk.

“I could have thrown a bunch of flying sh-t at her. I could have totally just unloaded on her and then circled on her, and I would have been able to unload on her again as opposed to have a fight where I was more picking my shots and being a little more cautious.”

An incredible 13 of the 17 media scores tracked for the fight at MMADecisions.com awarded that fight to Hill, but judges Chris Lee and Dave Tirelli did not. But rather than complain about their evaluation of the fight, Hill said she was forced back to a realization she’s found before – that she must up her output to have full control over her own destiny.

“I felt like I fought a really good fight, a really technical fight,” Hill said. “I felt like I did more than enough to win, but that still wasn’t enough. So it just proved to me that, hey, if you don’t want that to happen again – because it’s like the third time that it’s happened to me – so I’m like, all right. You think I would have learned by now. But it’s like, hey, if you don’t want it to happen again, you need to unleash on these girls. You need to try to 10-8 them every round, and if I do that, then I’m definitely going to get a knockout.

“If I 10-8 them every round, I’m definitely going to get a knockout. Either that, or a girl is just going to be stupid tough and be all mashed up, and it’s still going to make me look good. So I know I can. I know I can do it. I know that I have the ability to do it. It’s just like a mental decision of OK, we’re going to push the pace now. And then now. And then now. Not second guessing myself or holding back at all.”

Hill (12-8 MMA, 7-8 UFC) will get a chance to show her progress when she takes on Michelle Waterson (17-8 MMA, 5-4 UFC) in the strawweight main event of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 35, which streams live on ESPN+ from UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

It’s Hill’s fifth appearance in a 12-month span, and while she’s always fond of a short-notice fight, she’s known about this one for nearly four full months. Still, Hill said she thinks the key to success Saturday is to walk in with the same care-free attitude she does when she’s a late replacement.

“When you go in for a short-notice fight and you know you’re in shape, you know it’s a win-win,” Hill said. “You know no matter what happens, you’re not going to be penalized from the UFC for losing a short-notice fight, but you also have great chance to look like a ‘G,’ going out there and just dominating on like a week’s notice, so it’s always a win-win when you take those short-notice fights, and I’ve just been trying to embrace every fight like that.

“Even though I had like four months to prepare for this one, I’m just trying to – when I get there, I just try to focus on being in the moment and not worrying so much about what’s going to happen before or after or what they can possibly to do me. Still fighting smart, but not letting the pressure get to me. Not overthinking what people are going to think if I mess up – you know, all the negative thoughts that creep inside your head while you’re in there, so I’ve just been trying to focus on that. … I really feel like it’s helped me out.”

It’s certainly a big moment for Hill, who has seen her popularity rise in the UFC during her win streak, not to mention her entertaining social media presence. Now in her first UFC headliner, “Overkill” said she’s not out to prove anything but rather to just simply show fans what she learned from her recent setback.

“It feels really special, just the amount of posts online and the amount of people just adding me and cheering me on,” Hill said. “I can feel the crowd. Even though they’re physically not here, I can definitely feel their presence.”

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