Angela Hill will make history Saturday night.
The UFC strawweight contender will become the first African-American woman to headline a UFC event the moment she sets foot in the octagon when she takes on Michelle Waterson in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 35 in Las Vegas.
It’s a big moment for Hill (12-8 MMA, 6-8 UFC). The 35-year-old competitor feels honored to be making history for African-American women in the world’s premier MMA promotion.
“It’s big, and I didn’t even realize how big it was until (my manager) mentioned it to me,” Hill told reporters during her UFC on ESPN+ 35 virtual media scrum. “I think in a time like this, people need heroes people need someone to look up to, someone to root for. And just the fact that this hasn’t happened yet is indicative of the fact that it is important.
“A lot of people would say, ‘Why does it matter?’ But if it doesn’t matter to you, that’s OK, but it does matter to the fans who see that and they’re like, ‘Finally, finally, we have some representation. Finally we have a face in this sport that we love, and we’ve been waiting for so long.’”
Racial tension has run rampant in the U.S. in recent years, as many try to support and create awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement in wake of police brutality targeted towards people of color. Others stand against it or play down the level of racial injustice today in the country.
Hill is happy to be making history during these times and bring representation to Black people.
“Its really cool to be a part of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Hill explained. “It’s really important, and I think people try to pretend that it’s not and call it things that it isn’t because it’s hard to look at the violence. It’s hard to say there’s something wrong when you haven’t experienced it yourself.
“I think the reason it’s so important to Black people is because they’ve all had moments where they felt in danger or they felt they weren’t considered as human as their white counterparts, and it’s not something that disappeared when (former President Barack) Obama got elected. It’s not something that disappeared once cops got body cams. It’s something that’s still hurting the community right now. I think with the pandemic that’s going on right now, with just everything just being so divisive, it’s really brought it to light and made people pay attention to how hard the struggles are and the fact there needs to be some change.”
Hill thinks many take representation for granted, as they’re not used to or haven’t experienced being underrepresented in many areas in society. Hill has felt the joy of seeing Black people and culture take center stage in many situations and is happy to bring that same joy to others in the world of MMA.
“When people do reach out and say, ‘Hey, my daughter looks up to you. My girlfriend loves you. I hope my daughters can be as strong as you,’ when people reach out and say things like that, it’s always surprising, but it just makes me feel so happy that I didn’t give up,” Hill said. “It gives me that extra push when I just want to be like, ‘F-ck it, this isn’t worth it. It’s too hard,’ because fighting is hard, it’s really hard.
“It’s even harder when every time I’ve lost is on the UFC stage. I’ve never lost outside of the UFC, so having that magnifying glass on every win but also on every failure, people reaching out to me and saying stuff like that, it’s so special and it’s something that you can’t really explain. Representation is such an important thing to so many people.
“I remember when I was a kid, I wanted the Black Barbie because I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’ I would aways watch ‘Rugrats’ and get extra excited when Susie was on, so it’s just one of those little things that people who aren’t starved of it don’t realize that they would miss it if they don’t have it. If you’re white in America, you’ve never felt underrepresented.”