Angela Hill has spent the bulk of her career training for fights.
And while she’s been doing that, too, in the leadup to Saturday’s UFC 265 rematch against Tecia Torres, the strawweight fighter has been in the lab honing a different craft: Color commentary. She’ll try her hand at that branch of broadcasting, after making her studio debut for ESPN’s UFC coverage last summer, as United Kingdom-based Cage Warriors hosts its first California event on Sunday at Humphrey’s by the Bay in San Diego.
“You don’t see female commentators a lot. You don’t hear their voice while the fight’s going on, so I definitely think that’s gonna be an interesting component to this Cage Warriors [event],” Hill recently told The Post via Zoom. “And if I do alright, this can be something that I do more often in the future.”
Hill, who is based a short drive from the site of Cage Warriors 126 that’s headlined by middleweights John Poppie and Kyle Stewart, said this opportunity likely came about thanks to her proximity and experience on camera breaking down fights for ESPN of late. That, or maybe regular UFC color commentator Dominick Cruz was “a little too expensive,” she joked.
Naturally, Hill is a healthy mix of nervous and excited for her first chance to analyze the in-cage action in real time for a live audience — the main card airs beginning 11 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass. To prep for the new duties, she’s been watching fights at home on low volume, discussing the bouts as they go on with husband Adam Blair Pryde.
“That’s probably the easiest way for me to practice,” Hill said. “It’s almost like improv, right? You have to explain what you’re seeing but also not just say, ‘He’s throwing a punch. He’s throwing a kick.’ You have to explain it and then start talking about it or talking about what’s going to happen next or what he should do. So, it’s definitely an art form that you have to hone.”
Given that it’s her color commentary debut, Hill is realistic that it might not be a flawless performance. But don’t confuse that for lack of confidence in her abilities. Her experience on ESPN, on podcasts — she currently co-hosts “What Had Happened Was…” with UFC on ESPN studio host Karyn Bryant — and original exposure to the UFC audience as a cast member and competitor on the 20th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” all add up to a veteran of media with a wealth of knowledge about the sport.
“I definitely feel like I have the chops for it,” Hill says. “I have the moxie for it.”
The hope is that gigs such as this can lead to more opportunities as Hill, 36, plans for life after fighting. While she’s not in a rush to hang up the gloves yet and is riding a strong 18 months in the octagon — 3-2 with a pair of razor-close split decision defeats — she likes the “natural transition” the world of MMA broadcasting offers her. She’s got other ideas as well, including opening a bar-gym hybrid that always shows combat sports as well as acting.
But that’s later. For now, Hill (13-9, five finishes) has a busy week ahead of her between broadcasting and fighting. A few days after Cage Warriors, she’ll fly out to Houston to face Torres (12-5, two finishes) for the first time since 2015, when both were less than a year removed from living together in the “Ultimate Fighter” house.
The bout was originally scheduled for last Dec. 12, but Hill tested positive for COVID-19. Torres instead defeated late replacement Sam Hughes in the opponent’s UFC debut, securing her second win in a row that was preceded by a four-fight skid against elite competition. But when it came time to rebook Hill vs. Torres II, Hill says her fellow “TUF” castmate balked.
“She felt like, after winning two fights in a row, I didn’t deserve to fight her anymore,” Hill says. “And I thought that was really rude, especially since we were supposed to fight and I had to pull out of the fight literally [on] seven days’ notice.
“…It was just a silly way of her trying to negotiate fighting someone who wasn’t me, who’s maybe higher ranked or who could get her closer to a title shot. They said, ‘no, b—h, get back in line,” she adds with a laugh. “You haven’t done shit yet to be calling the shots.’”
Hill says Torres, after turning down the matchup at 115 pounds several times, was left with no choice but to take the fight while the rest of her more ideal options were otherwise occupied. That gives Hill a chance to avenge her unanimous decision defeat, which came in her third pro MMA bout — Torres’ sixth — and at a time when the striking-based strawweight says she had “no wrestling experience.”
The way Hill sees it, Torres is in decline, while she still has some momentum behind her. More importantly, she vows she has rounded out her game.
“I understand the game a lot more,” Hill says of the difference between then and now. “I understand grappling a lot more. I’m a full MMA fighter, not just a Muay Thai fighter who has a couple sprawls. So, it really makes sense for me.”