After brief stints in both the Ultimate Fighter house and UFC circuit Angela Hill has found her MMA home at Invicta Fighting Championships. After two blistering performances over Alida Gray and Stephanie Eggink in the first few months of 2016, Hill was given a shot at undefeated champion Livia Renata Souza at May’s Invicta FC 17.
Hill vs. Souza was a dramatic back-and-forth contest that saw Hill survive Souza’s submission attempts before punishing the Brazilian with clinical striking on route to her being crowned the new queen of Invicta’s 115lbers.
For Hill, this was the first time she had ever fought for five rounds in MMA. “I could definitely feel it,” said Hill to Bloody Elbow. “But after the first couple of rounds were done, I felt really confident about just being more fresh than her, and being able to push the pace better than she would be able to.”
During the 25-minute fight Hill bloodied Souza’s nose and caught her with a myriad of clean shots. But, Hill wasn’t the slightest bit surprised at her opponent’s ability to withstand those strikes.
“I could tell she was gonna be tough,” remarked Hill. “She was gonna stick in there as long as she could, she definitely wasn’t going to sit down and let me hit her, she’s always gonna be moving and active, even when she’s dead tired.”
Though Souza’s toughness didn’t surprise Hill, the then-champion’s “weird takedowns” certainly did. Souza utilized a number of judo trips in the fight, which Hill admitted she wasn’t optimally prepared for.
Souza’s ability to take Hill down and threaten with submissions is part of what made their showdown so dramatic. Though Hill appreciates the theater of that fight in retrospect, she wasn’t happy about the action as it was unfolding around her.
“Being exhausted is not a fun feeling,” admitted Hill. “When I look back on it, I’m really proud of myself for being able to win the belt in that fashion, but you always want a quick fight, you always want the quick finish, you want the knockout, you want to just beat the person up. You never really want to have the back-and-forth and be gasping for air.”
A fun feeling for Hill did come as soon as her hand was raised and - for the first time in her young MMA career - a championship belt was wrapped around her waist.
“It felt really good,” said Hill of the moment Invicta President Shannon Knapp presented her with the title. However, the now 5-2 fighter revealed this wasn’t something she envisioned happening so soon.
“When I first got to Invicta [winning a title] wasn’t the game-plan,” revealed Hill. “The game-plan was just to get experience. I knew it was a possibility to fight for the title, but it wasn’t like on my to-do list. My to-do list was to rack up a bunch of fights, get a bunch of wins, and see what happens after that.”
Hill wasn’t just surprised to be winning a title so soon in her Invicta career. She was also surprised by how happy she felt about.
“I didn’t expect to feel so much joy from that,” remembered Hill. “I felt appreciated, I felt like people respected me for how hard I’ve worked, and how much talent that I have, and I feel like it raised my stock and made people more aware of me.”
Hill said she was also pleased to prove people that she was not just another ‘Ultimate Fighter dropout’ and said her win was a, “good sign for what’s to come” and what she feel she can do in MMA.
“It’s invigorated me,” said Hill, even though this was not the first combat sports title she had ever held.
Hill also owns two amateur titles and one professional title from the World Kickboxing Association (WKA). Although, she played down their importance. “It was really cool at the time,” said Hill. “But the more Muay Thai champions that I meet, the more I see it as meaning you’re just the biggest fish in a small pond.”
Today Hill is very interested in testing her skills in kickboxing’s biggest ponds. “It would be really cool to win like a Lion Fight or Glory title at some point, I’ve also been flirting with the idea of going to Thailand to win one of the prestigious belts out there, like the Queen’s Cup.”
Hill revealed that recently she had shot at becoming a two sport champion, only for it to not pan out.
“I tried to book a fight with Lion Fight, they had a girl pull out and they needed someone to fight Iman Barlow,” said Hill. “It was for [the super bantamweight title], which she won, and I was negotiating with them but they didn’t really want to fork out the money, so we didn’t end up taking the fight. It would have been on three days notice and against a pretty tough girl, but I think that would be an option later. I’ll just float that idea around with the people at Glory, the people at Lion Fight, I’d be down for it.”
Asked whether she would be contractually clear to compete at either Glory or Lion Fight. Hill answered, “Maybe?” before laughing. “Honestly though, I think they’re pretty open with me competing in other sports. As long as it doesn’t interfere with their plans.”
Before Hill will get to challenge for a kickboxing title, she will have to defend her own MMA title - this Friday at Invicta FC 20. Looking to dethrone her in Invicta is 8-4 Team Sityodtong member Kaline Medeiros. Medeiros earned her shot after defeating Manjit Kolekar by unanimous decision at Invicta FC 19 in September.
“That was an ok fight,” shrugged Hill. “I don’t think either of them really did much, but she won pretty decisively. That fight was pretty much at half the pace that my fights usually are, so I definitely don’t think she’ll be able to keep up for me for five rounds.”
“It’s a horrible feeling to be tired in a fight,” said Hill. “And when I watched her last fight, it looked like she was definitely sucking for air. So I’m gonna try and make her feel that way again. Only with two more rounds to go after that.”
Hill also remarked that Medeiros appeared to be a “pretty strong girl”, and that she needed to be wary of her overhand right (which she once used to knockout Stephanie Eggink).
When asked about her plans for after the Medeiros fight (and a possible return to the UFC), it became clear that Hill was keeping her options open.
“I’m happy with defending my belt, maybe even a few more times, and just seeing what happens, what opportunities are available after that,” announced Hill. “I think my main thing is, I don’t want to be in an organization that doesn’t want me there, so I definitely want to feel like I’m an asset when (and if) I do sign a contract with the UFC or any other promotion. I want them to want me, I don’t want to undersell myself.”
“I’m just trying to boost myself in every way that I can,” added Hill. “By training hard, by knocking people out, by winning, that’s what raises your stock and that’s what makes promotions want you. So that’s really the game-plan, being the best athlete, being the best star that I can be, and hoping that someone notices.”
Hill hopes lots of people will notice her this this weekend, when she defends her belt for the very first time. And, along with her promise to fight an exciting fight and go for the knockout, she believes there’s at least one other reason why people should not miss this, or any other, Invicta show.
“People should definitely tune in to Invicta FC 20,” stated Hill. “Because... Invicta will guarantee that no fights will ever get canceled because of a bad d**k pill.”