Angela "Overkill" Hill and her funky mohawk first exploded on the national scene after she won one of 16 spots on the "Ultimate Fighter" reality show in 2014. That brief television stint led her to a budding UFC career. Hill, UFC's first African-American female fighter, is known for producing explosive power from a small frame. At 5-foot-3 and 115 pounds, Hill's surprising and effective strength has earned her a 2-0 record as a strawweight. During her months of preparation for Saturday's bout against Tecia "The Tiny Tornado" Torres at UFC 188 in Mexico City, she shared with us a firsthand account of what her training day looks like.
Rise And Grind
I get to the gym at about 8 a.m. ET to get in a quick conditioning set (she trains at Evolution Muay Thai NYC). Here, I'm doing squat raises with just the bars so my arms don't snap off. This is one of my least favorite exercises because it targets a lot of small muscles I'm not used to using. I'm working my way up to a heavier weight but the bar will do for now. After this I'll move on to squats, lunges and presses. Conditioning is my least favorite part of training. It's repetitive, boring and hard. I like to think of it like taking medicine; you hate it in the moment but the results keep you coming back.
Iron Sharpens Iron
Once conditioning is over, I get in a little MMA sparring with fellow female badass Katlyn Chookagian at Renzo Gracie's gym. She's a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and an undefeated MMA fighter; so, she always makes me work when we train together.
It's almost noon so it's time to grab a bite to eat. My Muay Thai coach, Brandon Levi, and I go to Mooncake, one of our favorite lunch spots. The food is yummy but also healthy so I'm not all sluggish during evening training. On the way to lunch we'll game plan, talk about life in general or just share gross pictures we found on the Internet. Anyone who knows Brandon knows that a picture text from him will not be suitable for work. I would share one with you, but I'm not sure your gag reflex is strong enough.
After lunch, we grab some ginger shots at the deli near the gym to help boost the immune system. They taste great, especially because Brandon's treating! It's so easy to get sick in NYC, especially in the winter and especially when your body's exhausted from training, so I'm all about natural remedies.
The Australian Jokester
After lunch it's back into the ring. This time it's with Brandon. Here he's yelling "harder!" as I throw the body shot, though it sounds more like "hah dah" because he's Australian. Aside from the corny jokes, he's a great coach and a real stickler for technique. He doesn't let you get away with bad habits, which is probably why I've gone 16-0 in my Muay Thai career. And to be honest, I like the jokes -- just don't tell him that.
Here I'm just plain exhausted after seven 5-minute rounds of Muay Thai with my coach. Muay Thai is basically kickboxing with the addition of elbows and knees. It's the most brutal striking martial art and a very intense workout. It helps me in the ring because in MMA the fight always starts standing, so being able to punch, kick, elbow and knee your opponent without getting tired is essential.
You know you have pushed yourself when you feel that tingly feeling in your limbs. I'm feeling all that -- and more -- right here. We worked a lot on power, combos and defense. This moment marked another successful pad session with Brandon in the books.
A Fighting Couple
That's my husband, Adam Blair Pryde. At night we like to jump into the advanced pad-work class with the rest of the fight team. About six years ago we started doing Muay Thai just as a workout, and ended up getting addicted to it. Between the two of us we've stepped into the ring 28 times under Brandon (not including my MMA fights).
In My Corner
Adam isn't just my husband, he's my sparring partner, coach, corner man, nutritionist and daily motivator. He's a pretty good catch. Right here he is pulling an eyelash out of my eye. He probably punched the lash loose a few minutes ago doing slip-and-counter drills. That's when your pad holder throws a pad at your face, you duck under it, making him miss, and then you attack while he recovers his balance. Sometimes you forget to duck, ha-ha!
It's about 8 p.m. and I've had nearly 10 hours of training today. After such a long day, it's nice to see someone else in the ring for a change. That's me in the front row cheering on my teammate Eldris Barbosa as he walks out for his first smoker! A smoker is like a practice fight, where you have people from different gyms meet up at one gym, match up according to size and spar each other. It's set up just like a real amateur fight with three 2-minute rounds of hard sparring. No winner is officially declared but Eldris looked like a pro while frustrating his opponent and stringing combos together seamlessly. It's a good way to see if a student is physically and mentally ready to step into the ring for an official fight. Moments like these and the grueling ones from earlier in the day are all part of the journey to make it to my next fight in Mexico City.