Saturday night, at UFC Fight Night 120 in Norfolk, Virginia, fight fans were treated to two exciting bouts in the strawweight division. To open the FS1 prelims, former Invicta FC strawweight champ Angela Hill took on American Top Team’s Nina Ansaroff. In a FOTN-worthy three round kickboxing war, Ansaroff was declared the winner via unanimous decision. Later in the night, Tatiana Suarez returned from injury in her first octagon appearance since winning TUF 23 to take on fellow unbeaten prospect, Viviane Pereira. Suarez used her high-pressure wrestling offense and superior grappling to control Pereira for all three rounds en route to a dominant decision victory.
So, what’s next for the women of UFC Fight Night 120?
Hill is a game fighter who never shies away from a brawl and consistently puts on exciting performances. After a strong start against Nina, Angela was on the receiving end of the more powerful strikes in rounds two and three. Despite alternating wins and losses in the UFC, Hill’s losses all come from top-tier competition (Namajunas, Torres, Andrade, Esparza). Her nasty clinch game and sound Muay Thai make her a tough out for anyone in the division. Two fights come to mind when considering Hill’s next bout— the fighter on the losing end of Felice Herrig vs Cortney Casey, or, a match vs UFC newcomer Livia Renata Souza. Herrig/Casey make for an exciting clash with Hill and a bout with Souza already has a story behind it.
Though Ansaroff’s octagon schedule has been somewhat inconsistent, she is constantly improving with every fight. Last night’s display was a perfect example of how far she’s come. She has a strong chin, she is able to string together powerful combinations, and she isn’t afraid to go to the ground. Similar to her opponent last night, Ansaroff is becoming known for putting on exciting performances and engaging in wild brawls. Nina mentioned getting back into the cage sooner rather than later and there are two options that make guaranteed exciting fights upon her return— the winner of Felice Herrig vs Cortney Casey, or, the winner of Randa Markos vs Juliana Lima.
Saturday night, Brazil’s Pereira was handed her first professional loss and it will be interesting to see how she bounces back from this. At only 5’1, Viviane’s going to find herself at a crucial reach and height disadvantage in nearly every match-up. The 24-years-old Brazilian, Pereira, has a lot of time to continue to develop. Perhaps a bout against TUF 23 alum Ashley Yoder would make for an exciting fight, giving one fighter the chance to get back in the winning column.
After a long lay-off due to injury, Tatiana Suarez made a triumphant comeback with a dominant performance. Suarez’s relentless grappling and overwhelming top pressure led her to clean unanimous decision sweep, almost capturing an arm bar finish in the third round. Post-fight, Suarez said she would like to stay active, eventually working her way toward the title. There are a lot of interesting fights for her in this division. The winner of Carla Esparza vs Cynthia Calvillo is an excellent fight for Suarez to test her grappling against a fellow elite grappler in the top ten of the division. Another fight that is intriguing for Suarez is fellow up-and-coming prospect, Brazilian striker Poliana Botelho. After a successful debut last month, Botelho is eager to get back into the octagon and work her way into the rankings as well.
What matches would you make for the women of UFC Norfolk?