On Saturday, everything went right for Angela Hill, except for whose hand was raised at the end of her fight.
Riding a three-fight winning streak for the first time in her UFC career, “Overkill” engaged in an exciting striking battle with Gadelha for three rounds in the ESPN on UFC 8 co-main event in Jacksonville, Fla. When the scorecards were read, two of the judges scored the fight in Gadelha’s favor, drawing an instant and emotional reaction from Hill.
Although you don’t need to be a lipreader to figure out what Hill said, the strawweight contender explained exactly how upset she was with the judges’ call and with Dana White’s subsequent agreement with said call during an appearance on The A-Side on Wednesday.
“I said, ‘F*ck that,’” Hill said. “I said it maybe five times, and I didn’t know what to do. I was just pacing back and forth. I was like, ‘What do I f*cking do, right now?’ I stormed out of the cage. I looked left and right because I was trying to see the f*cking judges’ faces and I was like, ‘Where the f*ck are the judges?’ And they’re like, shoving me down that corridor so I’m not running around the empty arena screaming at people and throwing things.
“Everything I saw in front of me after they pushed me out I wanted to just grab and f*cking throw it, I was so pissed. This is the first time I’ve ever been that angry after a decision, because the fight was a big deal. It was a really big deal for me. It’s the first time I had a streak going, the first person in my streak with a number by their name, so it was just a really big deal. I know people are like, ‘Well, you lost so much already, why does this matter?’ All those losses are in the past and this was my resurgence as a dominant fighter and I felt like they’re almost trying to change what I did. I did something great, and the judges are changing that narrative and f*cking Dana’s changing that narrative by saying that he agrees with them. It all just made me angry.”
Making the situation more frustrating for Hill was how good she felt immediately following the conclusion of the bout. Gadelha has been a perennial contender at 115 pounds and once challenged for a UFC title in July 2016. Only four women have defeated Gadelha: former champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk (twice), Jessica Andrade and Nina Ansaroff.
A win over Gadelha would have placed Hill in the thick of the title picture, but instead she had to swallow what she views as an incorrect decision.
“For five minutes, while I’m waiting for the judges to tally up their little scores—they probably had a calculator for it because they’re f*cking stupid—while I’m waiting five minutes for the judges to tally up everything, I’m just like, ‘Man, I just whipped Claudia Gadelha’s ass,’” Hill said. “Everyone saw that. Co-main event. This is the biggest fight of my career.
“This is the biggest platform of my career and I showed out, I did what I was supposed to do. I dropped her, I f*cked her up in the third, I survived the storm in the first, I did everything right and they took that from me.”
Overall, Hill believes she’s had bad luck with the judges, though she didn’t specify other UFC fights with which she took umbrage outside of the Gadelha decision. Prior to her recent stretch of success, Hill was mired in a 2-4 slump. But her willingness to fight at the drop of a hat made her a fan favorite and a valuable asset to the matchmakers (Saturday’s fight marked Hill’s seventh appearance in 14 months).
She’s frustrated at the thought of this loss on her record taking away from her performance and where she feels she rightfully stands in the contenders’ rankings.
“I feel like I have maybe three wins that should have gone the other way, and this was the most high-profile one,” Hill said. “Everyone saw it, so that’s good. Everyone saw what happened. Maybe a little more people will actually remember in a few years, but as of right now it just sucks, because people are talking about it now, but a few fights from now, people are gonna go, ‘Oh, she lost to Gadelha.’
“Basically, history is being rewritten. So it’s a little frustrating with that right now, but at least I performed the way that I wanted to. I feel like I did everything that we wanted to do. It was almost the perfect fight, the perfect fight would have been knocking her out, obviously. Almost the perfect fight, perfect game plan executed I felt like. So I’m proud of that and I feel like my future is gonna go up from here.”
Hill still eyes a fight with a top-10 contender. Afterward, she was able to speak to UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard, and their conversation was an encouraging one. There have been situations in the past where officials have treated fighters on the wrong end of a close decision as winners. White, for example, handled Ross Pearson’s infamous decision loss to Diego Sanchez in this manner, and featherweight legend Jose Aldo was recently granted a bantamweight title shot after dropping a narrow decision to Marlon Moraes. Hill hopes she falls into that category.
“I talked to Mick right afterward and I think he agreed with me [that] I should have gotten the nod,” she said. “He was just torn up about it because of the potential story, me going on a four-fight win streak and beating Claudia Gadelha and then campaigning for a title shot after that. That’s an awesome story and [the judges] kind of stole that from me.
“Just when it comes to being a matchmaker, that’s something you don’t get often, so I think he was just as upset about it as I was, even if it’s just from a selling the fight standpoint. I think he’s gonna respect that and try to get me [another fight]. I asked him, ‘What’s up with next month, is everything sealed up or you’ve got spots?’ He was like, ‘I can probably get you in next month.’ So I’m like, ‘Let’s do it, let’s do it! Let’s go.’ It’s funny because before the fight I was definitely set on taking a little break afterward, but after that happened, I’m fired up. I believe in myself, I performed perfectly, there’s nothing that I would have done differently except for maybe just throwing more. I feel ready to go, and a motivated Angela is a dangerous one. He seems willing to give me another shot at one of the top girls.”
Hill wasn’t the only fighter displeased with the judges at UFC on ESPN 8. Edson Barboza and Marlon Vera also left the octagon empty handed despite strong efforts, and according to Hill, there was some discussion among the fighters afterward that they should get together and file an appeal to the commission, if only to prevent this sort of thing happening in the future.
As it stands, Hill is sticking with her plan of fighting as often as possible. In this case, it’s not just to maintain forward momentum, but to wash out the bitter taste of this latest loss.
“I wouldn’t even care about the win purse – I just want the win on my record,” Hill said of why an appeal was considered. “But now that it’s already said and done, you always look like a sore loser if you go, ‘Hey, change that decision,’ no matter how valid your point is. So yeah, it sucks. You just have to move on, and it’s so hard to, especially right now when it just happened and there’s nothing else planned for the future yet.”