Five years into her octagon run, Michelle Waterson still has a singular goal in mind: UFC gold.
“The Karate Hottie” took a step in that direction on Saturday night with a victory in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 35 at UFC Apex. Waterson (18-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) earned a hard-fought split-decision win over Angela Hill (12-9 MMA, 7-9 UFC) in the five round thriller, which was awarded the evening’s “Fight of the Night” bonus.
Immediately after the fight, Waterson admitted that going to the judges in such a close contest “doesn’t leave a good feeling in your stomach.” However, at the post-fight presser she said she felt confident that the takedown in round three turned the tide and that from there she was in Hill’s face pushing the pace.
Afterward, while she was a little battered and bruised, Waterson said she was feeling fantastic and was looking forward to getting home to her daughter, Araya.
“Any time you take damage and you get a victory, it doesn’t hurt,” Waterson told MMA Junkie. “I’m super happy to come home with a victory and go home and see my little monkey.”
As for what’s next, Waterson admitted she wasn’t sure. In the past, she admits that worrying about rankings and matchups and paths to the title got a little bit overwhelming, so she’s elected instead to just focus on the fight in front of her at the moment.
So while there may be a few matchups that could help steer her in that direction, Michelle isn’t really worried about how to put them together. Instead, she simply plans on staying the course.
Michelle Waterson: Future Women Strawweight Champion ?
Waterson entered the UFC Vegas 10 main event on a two-fight losing streak and one key aspect of her mental preparation for the bout was not thinking about the consequences of another setback. The popular strawweight has maintained for sometime that her goal is to be UFC champion and now that she’s back in the win column, those hopes have been refreshed.
“The goal has always been to fight for the belt,” Waterson said. “I’ve been chomping away at this for a really long time, and I want to get there. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m like chipping away and chipping away and I can’t turn around. I’ve just got to keep going forward.”
Now back in the win column, she’s hoping to work her way to a strawweight title shot as quickly as possible.
“Whoever’s the next contender to fight for the belt,” Waterson said post-fight when asked who she wants to fight next, “I want to get to the belt as fast as possible.”
Purchase the UFC merch here.