Michelle Waterson
The Karate Hottie

USA

Falls via decision in main event
StrawweightUFC
May 8, 2021
Waterson lost to Marina Rodriguez via unanimous decision (47-48, 46-49, 46-49) at UFC on ESPN 24 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
It was a carbon copy of virtually all Waterson's UFC defeats. She remained competitive because of her skill level and toughness, but ultimately lacked the size to truly challenge her opposition. A natural atomweight (105 pounds) who has spent her UFC run competing at strawweight, Waterson took this fight at flyweight. She managed to dish out some punishment to Rodriguez's legs, but that was her only real damage in terms of striking. Waterson simply doesn't possess the requisite skill set to generate a ton of offense in a short period of time, and her lack of size makes it that much more difficult. Expect "The Karate Hottie" to hover around the .500 mark moving forward. The 35-year-old is 4-5 in her past nine bouts dating back to April 2017.
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Confirmed for main event
StrawweightUFC
May 4, 2021
Waterson has been confirmed for her headline matchup against Marina Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 26 on Saturday.
ANALYSIS
This was suspected all along, but the UFC had yet to officially confirm the event until Tuesday due to logistical issues on Rodriguez's end. Those appear to have been resolved, and Aaron Bronsteter of TSN.ca has confirmed that it will be a five-round fight despite the short notice booking. Waterson checks in as a (+170) betting underdog for the matchup as of Tuesday afternoon.
New headliner for UFC Vegas 26
StrawweightUFC
May 3, 2021
Waterson will take on Marina Rodriguez in a strawweight matchup in the main event of UFC Vegas 26 on Saturday, Gabriel Gonzalez of Cageside Press reports.
ANALYSIS
While the UFC's website still lists TBD vs. TBD as of Monday morning, several local and national news outlets appear to confirm the matchup of 115-pounders will take the spot of an originally scheduled bout between T.J. Dillashaw (forehead) and Corey Sandhagen. Waterson will be giving up three inches in both height and reach to Rodriguez, in addition to having a lower striking volume. She does have better grappling marks, however, sporting superior takedown average, takedown accuracy and takedown defense. As of the start of fight week, Waterson is listed as a betting underdog of roughly (+150) for a matchup that likely has title implications.
Withdraws from UFC 257
StrawweightUFC
December 8, 2020
Waterson was forced to withdraw from her scheduled bout with Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 on Jan. 23 for unspecified reasons, MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Waterson is coming off a victory over Angela Hill via split decision at UFC Fight Night in September, but she won't be able to face Ribas as scheduled. Marina Rodriguez will instead step in to fight Ribas in the strawweight bout.
Targeted for UFC 257
StrawweightUFC
November 3, 2020
Waterson is being targeted for a strawweight matchup against Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 on Jan. 23, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Waterson snapped a two-fight skid with a split-decision victory over Angela Hill in her last fight, taking home Fight of the Night honors along the way. While her sights remain set on the 115-pound belt, she'll first have to take care of business against a surging prospect in Ribas. Waterson will be the first ranked opponent for Ribas, who has compiled four victories in four trips to the Octagon so far. Ribas is primarily known for her jiu-jitsu, though Waterson is more than capable of holding her own on the mat. Ribas may have a statistical edge in the striking game, but the level of competition has been leagues apart, with Waterson fighting the best the division has to offer for several years. Waterson will be giving up four inches in reach to the Brazilian, but it still wouldn't surprise anyone if she entered as the betting favorite due to the big difference in experience.
Takes classic bout from Angela Hill
StrawweightUFC
September 12, 2020
Waterson defeated Angela Hill via split decision (49-46, 47-48, 48-47) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
It was a much improved performance from Waterson, regardless of whether she ultimately deserved the decision or not. Going into this fight, it was believed Hill would have a significant advantage in the striking exchanges between the two women. Somehow, Waterson failed on 17-of-18 takedown attempts and still managed to win the fight. This was as close as the numbers would lead you to believe. In a fight contested almost entirely on the feet, Hill held a 131-128 edge in significant strikes landed, while Waterson emerged with a 162-146 edge in total strikes landed. In other words, this was a toss-up that legitimately could have gone either way. In the end, however, it's Waterson that gets a step closer to the title picture. She'll also walk away with an extra $50,000 for her efforts here after this fight was awarded Fight of the Night honors.