Michelle Waterson
The Karate Hottie


Returning to Fight Night in April
February 8, 2020
Waterson will face Carla Esparza in a strawweight bout at UFC Fight Night on April 11 in Portland, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
Waterson was unsurprisingly physically outmatched in her loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk (unanimous decision) in October, but she'll make her return to the octagon in April. Meanwhile, Esparza has been on medical suspension since her majority decision victory over Alexa Grasso in September.
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Can't handle Joanna Jedrzejczyk
October 12, 2019
Waterson lost to Joanna Jedrzejczyk via unanimous decision (45-50, 45-50, 46-49) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Tampa.
Waterson did all she could over the course of 25 minutes, but she was simply giving up too much size and too much physicality to the much bigger Jedrzejczyk. Outside of a rear-naked choke attempt late in Round 4, Waterson never had Joanna in the least bit of trouble. She went for nine takedown attempts and was credited with just one successful try. "The Karate Hottie" did her best work at 105 pounds and Joanna has fought as high as 125 pounds, so this result was not all that surprising. Not that that will be of any consolation for Waterson. She worked very hard to get herself back in the title picture following a rough start to her UFC career and that all came crashing down on Saturday. Waterson will be back, but set to turn 34 years old next January, it's fair to wonder if this was her last legitimate opportunity to make noise in the UFC.
Locked in for Tampa main event
October 11, 2019
Waterson and her scheduled opponent, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, have both made weight for Saturday's matchup at UFC Tampa, locking in the main event.
Waterson has never had a problem making weight, but the issue here was with Jedrzejczyk, as it was reported earlier in the week that she was in jeopardy of missing her mark. The promotion went as far as to offer Waterson a catchweight bout at a higher contracted weight, but Waterson understandably declined that offer. Jedrzejczyk proceeded to have a few good workouts, and once it was clear a catchweight bout was off the table, she ultimately agreed to try and make the weight. She was successful in that endeavor Friday morning, so Waterson will still have an opponent in Saturday's headline fight. Matchup-wise, Jedrzejczyk has a clear edge in the striking department, while Waterson is the superior grappler. Jedrzejczyk has an 80 percent takedown defense even after getting brought to the ground five times in her last fight against Valentina Shevchenko, but that was a flyweight bout (125 pounds), and Waterson is a fighter capable of making atomweight (105 pounds). Given the striking advantage for Jedrzejczyk and overall size discrepancy, it's not too surprising to see Waterson enter this fight as a (+275) betting underdog.
Bout with Jedrzejczyk at risk
October 9, 2019
Waterson's scheduled fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the main event Saturday at UFC Tampa is in jeopardy with the latter struggling to meet the strawweight limit of 116 pounds, Raphael Marinho of Combate.com reports.
The UFC is apparently looking into replacement options for either fighter on the card, and at this juncture, the promotion appears more likely to find a new opponent for Jedrzejczyk rather than Waterson. According to the report, Waterson has refused an offer to fight Jedrzejczyk at a catchweight of 120 pounds, and has also declined matchups with Mackenzie Dern or Amanda Ribas. Waterson -- who is riding a three-fight winning streak -- looks like she may have to wait longer for a potential title shot, something that could have materialized if she had earned a victory over an accomplished fighter like Jedrzejczyk. Should she decline to fight at UFC Tampa, it appears the UFC intends to pin her against former champion Jessica Andrade at UFC 244 in December.
Fight with Jedrzejczyk in the cards
July 3, 2019
Waterson has agreed to face former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a strawweight matchup at a UFC Fight Night event on October 12, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
Many thought Waterson warranted a title shot after she defeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz to earn her third-straight win, but UFC President Dana White didn't agree, shutting the idea down afterwards. Instead, Waterson will welcome Jedrzeczyk back to strawweight after a brief stint at 125 pounds. Should Waterson emerge victorious, a fight against champion Jessica Andrade -- who is scheduled for a title defense against Weili Zhang on Aug. 31 -- would certainly be in the cards. As for the matchup against Jedrzejczyk, Waterson will be at a height and reach disadvantage, which is typically the case for the former atomweight. Jedrzejczyk owns elite striking numbers for any division, boasting far superior marks in both volume and striking differential (significant strikes landed minus significant strikes absorbed). Waterson, on the other hand, has more of an offensive wrestling focus to her game, which could come in handy here. While Jedrzejczyk has a takedown defense of 80 percent, she was taken down by Valentina Shevchenko five times in their December 2018 title fight.
Defeats Karolina Kowalkiewicz in Philly
March 30, 2019
Waterson defeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) at UFC on ESPN 2 on Saturday in Philadelphia.
It was easily Waterson's best performance under the UFC banner. Facing a smaller opponent than her previous few fights, Waterson got Karolina to the mat four times, and she did a terrific job of defending herself on the feet. "The Karate Hottie" has always struggled in bouts in which she is forced to stand and trade for an extended period of time, but she excelled on that area on Saturday. Waterson called for a title shot in her post-fight interview with ESPN's Jon Anik, but that seems like a reach despite her three-straight victories. Waterson's ability to handle a big, physical opponent remain a legitimate concern.