Angela Hill is ready to be a trail blazer. Hill, 26, is the first African-American woman to fight for the UFC, and she welcomes the chance to be a role model.
“It’s pretty cool to carry that torch and just represent black women in a good way,” says Hill, who lives in Flatbush. “… I didn’t plan on carrying it. But every day, I would get a Facebook message or an email or something from some woman who trained [martial arts] that I inspired to train.”
Although Hill, nicknamed “Overkill,” has yet to have an official fight for the world’s premier MMA promotion, she is a cast member on the Fox Sports 1 reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”
In a first for the long-running program, the winner of this season’s tournament will be crowned the UFC women’s strawweight champion, a division that makes its debut on tonight’s season premiere.
Hill (1-0) has the least professional MMA experience among her castmates, many of whom comprise the world’s top 10 best female 115-pounders.
“I really didn’t think I would be here this quickly,” Hill said of being on the UFC roster.
But, that lack of pro mixed martial arts experience belies the bevy of kickboxing experience Hill has under her belt. She and her husband began training at Evolution Muay Thai in the Flatiron District to stay in shape after graduating from Cooper Union in the East Village and working in an animation studio. Eventually, she worked her way up to become a kickboxing champion.
“New York is not really known for its [professional] MMA scene, just because it’s still illegal,” Hill said, “but we have a huge Muay Thai scene.”
While her base is kickboxing, Hill said she has been working on rounding out her grappling and other skills for the past two years. She added that her experience on “The Ultimate Fighter,” which filmed over the summer in Las Vegas, showed her that she’s not that far behind the pack despite a gap in in-cage MMA experience.
“Once I got there, [I was] taking down people and submitting people in training,” Hill said.