Fights To Make At: Strawweight – Hill Vs. Xiaonan II

The UFC’s strawweight division is in a very interesting situation. Several fighters in the rankings have either lost to Joanna Jedrzejczyk or are on streaks that don’t necessarily warrant title opportunities. Joanna (16-3), who is 2-3 in her last five, is set to face UFC Strawweight Champion Weili Zhang at UFC 248 in Las Vegas on March 7. With the way the rankings are currently, how does one determine who is the next contender in the division?

This past weekend in New Zealand we saw strawweight action, as both Angela Hill and Yan Xiaonan won their bouts via unanimous decision. For Xiaonan (12-1,1NC), it was her fifth win with the UFC since joining them in 2017. Minus a no-contest in 2016 for Road Fighting Championship, the 30-year-old from China hasn’t lost a bout since 2010. She easily took care of Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who will require eye surgery following their bout.

As for Hill (12-7), she beat Loma Lookboonmee via unanimous decision. It was her third win in a row and her eighth fight since the start of 2018. The bout was also a last-minute affair, as she fought a few weeks before on January 25, beating Hannah Cifers via TKO. With her sixth fight in 11 months, Hill owns a record that may never be broken.

How can you evaluate the division without these two standouts? This is especially true after their performances this past weekend.

The next fight to make at strawweight is Angela Hill v. Yan Xiaonan II.

With both Hill (15) and Xiaonan (11) joining the top 15 of the UFC’s strawweight rankings, the stock of both women continues to grow. Where do both of them go from here?

Hill wants to fight whoever she can. It is evident by her commitment to answering the call. At one point she was 2-4 in her last six fights. Then something clicked. Gaining a new appreciation of her Muay Thai style, Hill also appreciates the idea of fighting so she can focus on winning and making moments.

“I’ve always wanted to be one of those fighters that everyone just mentions,” Hill stated to MMAJunkie. “Everyone thinks of this person or that person. To be coming up, because I know I’m not there yet, but to be on my way there, is such a huge motivator for me. It’s going to make me keep calling for those short notice fights (and) keep staying in shape. (I’ll be) staying active and learning and becoming a better fighter.”

The idea to continue fighting could lead to a title opportunity. However, with Xiaonan ahead of her in the rankings, there is a lot to be desired for. Yan has already beaten Hill before, at UFC 238 back in June. Since then, Hill has fought three times, while Yan has only fought once.

What better way for Hill to prove herself than to show she can take care of the demons of her past? Even if not a true contender fight, the winner of the bout would be one step closer to whoever the champion may be after UFC 248.

No matter how you put it, both are on a collision course. If Dana White sees value in both fighters, this rematch may be the one to put, and keep, both of them on the map.

Would you like to see this rematch?

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