(All stats according to UFC’s Record Book and Fight Metric, as of September 11, 2020, and only include active athletes in their respective division unless noted otherwise)
Main Event: Michelle Waterson vs Angela Hill
Key Stats: 52% significant striking accuracy (3rd all-time among WSW), 44.8% takedown accuracy (5th all-time among WSW), 0.97 submissions per 15 minutes (4th all-time among WSW)
What It Means: Although “The Karate Hottie” is known for her fast and technical standup attack, more than half of the 34-year-old’s wins have come by submission, including both her finishes in the UFC. On the feet, though, she is constantly darting in and out of the pocket, using a variety of fast kicks at distance. In the clinch and against the fence, Waterson is plenty strong, and secures a lot of takedowns using hip tosses and other judo-like throws that put her in quick position to fish for a submission.
Key Stats: 72.2% takedown defense (4th all-time among WSW), 5.76 strikes landed per minute (5th all-time among WSW), 49.6% significant strike accuracy (5th all-time among WSW)
What It Means: Angela Hill is a pressure forward Muay Thai specialist who has shown an uptick in aggression and power in her recent fights. She mixes in elbows and knees really well in exchanges and can stalk her opponent when she senses her moment. Her takedown defense has continued to improve, most notably late in her split decision loss to Claudia Gadelha. “Overkill” likes to stay busy, not just in moving around the Octagon, but in her output, and she hasn’t ever seemed to tire, despite the pace she keeps.
What to Look for in the Fight:
Waterson and Hill have shown they have the cardio to keep a high pace for five rounds, so how the two play with their tempo throughout the fight will be interesting. Hill is probably the more powerful and aggressive striker, whereas Waterson shows a propensity to pick her opponents apart or get the fight to the ground. Waterson’s tendency to get takedowns from tosses rather than straight single- or double-leg takedowns will be a different test for Hill, but she showed against Gadelha a good ability to stuff shots and make her opponent pay for the attempt. Hill’s elbows have shown particularly devastating effects, as well.
Co-Main Event: Ottman Azaitar vs Khama Worthy
Key Stats: 7.61 strikes landed per minute, 50% striking accuracy, 2.25 strikes absorbed per minute
What It Means: In his UFC debut at UFC 242, Ottman Azaitar found plenty of success pressuring his opponent and winging looping punches around the guard. He showed an ultra-aggressive, brawling style, but also showed patience in trying to land the big shot, which he found midway through the first round. He did mix in some leg kicks to set up his offense, but more than anything, his hook-heavy striking approach fed well into his “Bulldozer” moniker.
Key Stats: 4.44 strikes landed per minute, 3.09 strikes absorbed per minute, 49% striking defense
What It Means: “The Death Star” has shown off a herky-jerky standup style that has given opponents some problems in terms of finding their own range and timing. He is twitchy on the feet, reacting quickly to find a counter shot in the pocket. His peculiar sense of timing feeds especially well into that counter game. He showed decent grappling ability against Luis Pena, who in his own right is a unique challenge because of his long limbs and frame for the lightweight division.
What to Look for in the Fight:
From their small sample sizes, this matchup projects to be an entertaining standup battle between an aggressor and a fighter willing to be a bit of a punishing matador. Azaitar pressed forward constantly in his UFC debut, winging heavy punches toward his opponent. Worthy, on the other hand, has shown comfort in planting his feet and reacting quickly to an attack before planting a few back on his opponent to consider. Potentially, a higher pace feeds into Azaitar’s favor, whereas a more methodical one might mean Worthy is finding a lot of success in the countering game as he did against the rangy Luis Pena.
Other Fights to Watch (Roxanne Modafferi vs Andrea Lee)
Key Stats: 32.3% takedown accuracy (3rd all-time among WFLW), 35.3% control time percentage (3rd all-time among WFLW), 1:48:32 total fight time (1st all-time among WFLW)
What It Means: Few have been around the game as long as Roxanne Modafferi, and “The Happy Warrior” has kept improving along the way. That said, her bread and butter is in grappling scenarios, whether it is against the fence in the clinch or on the mat. The jiu-jitsu ace has shown an ability to both control her opponent, neutralizing any offense coming her way, or to attack with submissions. She really has seen it all, and she continues to show an elevation in her striking, particularly when it comes to blending an attack into a grappling situation.
Key Stats: +1.6 striking differential (3rd all-time among WFLW), 5.4 strikes landed per minute (3rd all-time among WFLW), 48.7% striking accuracy
What It Means: While most of Andrea Lee’s fights take place on the feet, she carries a well-rounded skillset into the Octagon. She is a fundamentally sound grappler, whose strength shows well in that close range. On the feet, though, Lee does well to fight long, utilizing her rangy frame (5-foot-7, 69.5-inch reach) to manage distance with straight punches and teep kicks. Against Lauren Murphy and Joanne Calderwood – both close split decision losses – Lee kept a high work rate, standing in the pocket and showing pretty solid defensive movement as well.
What to Look for in the Fight:
This rematch is a few layers deeper than a conventional striker-vs-grappler matchup. Modafferi, while much more comfortable on the mat, has sharpened her standup tools over the years, and Lee’s offensive and defensive grappling game has improved as well. The first fight featured a pretty high pace, and the judges gave Modafferi a split decision edge. Look for Modafferi to close the distance and make this fight a grinding affair on the cage. Lee, on the other hand, has emphasized an urgency to finish the fight to take the judges’ out of it – three of her four pro losses have been split decisions. If Lee can use her length and footwork to keep Modafferi’s charges at bay, she could find plenty of success, but on the ground, Modafferi is the toughest test of Lee’s submission defense yet.