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With just six professional bouts to her name and a record of 4-2, Angela Hill stepped foot in the Invicta FC cage to challenge for Livinha Souza's Strawweight title. The Brazilian had been making waves in the MMA world with an undefeated record of 9-0 and a proclivity for wilting her opponents down before submitting or knocking them out.
Hill entered the fight an underdog with legitimate question marks over her grappling pedigree. After all, she had been cut from the UFC following back-to-back losses in fights that were largely contested on the ground. Now she was tasked with the first 25-minute fight of her career against a terrifyingly great grappler.
The opening round played out as many had expected: Souza initiated her panther-like takedowns, diving at Hill and getting her to the ground with relative ease. Hill was not to roll over with as many had prognisticated, however; this was made evident when Souza managed to lock in a guillotine which Hill expertly defended.
Managing to get the fight back to the feet, Hill's in-and-out movement caused Souza to whiff on many of her heavy strikes.
While the round ended with an obvious victor, it was Hill who turned the most heads. She had survived a large portion of the opening round without getting submitted and being able to get the fight back to the feet.
In a hotly contested second round that saw another power takedown and Souza jumping guard for a guillotine, Hill slowly began to take over. Her jab was routinely splitting Souza's guard and the attacks to the body visibly drained the champion's stamina.
Hill's jab continued to edge the fight in her favour. It worked to stagger Souza's rhythm on the feet and kept the Brazilian on the outside, rendering her takedown game ineffective.
Entering the fourth round, Souza had the logical edge: she had fought in title matches before and fought for longer than just 15 minutes. Hill, conversely, had never seen the fourth round in her entire professional career. It's worth noting that Souza captured the Invicta belt by late 4th round triangle choke against Katja Kankaanpaa the year prior.
And, yet, Hill's movement remained perfect. She found the right moments to land her straight right, pump the jab, and score teep kicks to the body. Souza looked broken, especially by the latter stages of the round when Hill landed a thunderous kick to the body that brought a wince out of the champion's face.
The final round was perhaps the most dramatic of the fight. Souza threw everything she could at Hill who was tagging her on the feet was ease. In the final 30 seconds, Souza managed to lock an arm-in guillotine. As Hill escaped, the Brazilian transitioned to a belly-down armbar that was interrupted by the horn.
One of the big mysteries of this fight will always remain: what if there had been a few more seconds on the clock?
But the indisputable fact of this fight: Hill put on a career-best performance that launched her career back on track and saw her re-enter the UFC not long after.
Six years later, this fight is rightly considered one of the very best title matches in the Invicta FC catalog.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the fight here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/40148/angela-hill-vs-livia-renata-souza-invicta-fc-17
The fight is also available in full on Dailymotion: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7x9yfy