Michelle Waterson
The Karate Hottie


Struggles continue in Jacksonville
May 9, 2020
Waterson lost to Carla Esparza via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 27-30) at UFC 249 on Saturday in Jacksonville.
It was yet another in a long line of mediocre performances from Waterson. On the flip side, Esparza wasn't much better. Waterson's complete inability to generate any consistent offense has been the main downfall of her near five-year UFC run. She managed to keep this fight on the feet for the most part but was still unable to outpoint Esparza in the striking battle. It was a highly concerning result, to say the least. Waterson is now 5-4 in the UFC and she's fought worse than her record would indicate. She turned 34 years of age this past January, and it's difficult to envision "The Karate Hottie" as anything more than roster depth moving forward.
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Fight with Esparza back on
April 26, 2020
Waterson will take on Carla Esparza in a strawweight matchup at UFC 249 on May 9 in Jacksonville.
This was a matchup originally schedule for Portland on April 11, but that fight landed in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and was one of several events the UFC was forced to cancel. It will be rescheduled with a much more prominent audience, as it gets a spot on the ESPN prelims and will be one of the first live sports to resume competition. Waterson is a former atomweight that typically is at a size disadvantage, but that won't be the case here, as she'll enter with a slight height advantage. Oddsmakers predict Esparza will match Waterson's wrestling, however, as "The Karate Hottie" enters as roughly a (+125) betting underdog.
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.
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.