Born Name: Michelle Eileen Waterson
Date of Birth: January 6, 1986
Place of Birth: Aurora, Colorado, U.S.
Other names: The Karate Hottie
Spouse: Joshua Gomez
Children: Araya Waterson
Height: 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)
Weight: 115 lb (52 kg; 8.2 st)
Division: Atomweight (2012–2015)
Strawweight (2007–2012, 2015–present)
Reach: 62 in (157 cm)
Style: Karate, Muay Thai, BJJ
Fighting out of: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Team: Jackson Wink MMA Academy
Rank: Black belt in American Freestyle Karate
Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Michelle Waterson (born January 6, 1986) is an American mixed martial artist and model who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). She is the former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion. Between 2013–2014 she was ranked the #1 women's atomweight fighter in the world. As of May 21, 2020, she is #8 in the UFC women's strawweight rankings.
Born in Colorado Springs and raised in Aurora, Waterson is of Caucasian and Thai descent. She began her modeling career in 2004 after she graduated from Aurora Central High School. She then attended the University of Denver until she realized she wanted to fight for a career.
Early martial arts career
Her early interest in gymnastics, and inability to pay for classes, led her to karate at the age of ten.
Waterson holds a black belt in American Freestyle karate and has also trained in Wushu, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and wrestling.
Waterson rose to fame as a contestant on the Muay Thai-themed Fight Girls reality show on the Oxygen television network. She was also featured as one of the fighters in the MTV/MTV2 reality show Bully Beatdown.
Professional mixed martial arts career
Having made the transition from ring girl to fighter with the help of Donald Cerrone, Waterson made her MMA debut on February 16, 2007, at Ring of Fire 28: Evolution against Andrea Miller, winning the fight by unanimous decision. She made her debut without having any amateur fights.
She faced Freestyle Cage Fighting champion Lynn Alvarez at Ring of Fire 31: Undisputed on December 1, 2007, but lost by submission in the first round.
Waterson made her Strikeforce debut against Tyra Parker at Strikeforce: Payback on October 3, 2008. She won the fight by rear naked choke submission in the first round.
Waterson faced Karina Taylor at Duke City MMA Series 1 on March 1, 2009. She won the fight by armbar submission in the first round. There was some controversy with this fight because Taylor did not tap out to the armbar.
On April 11, 2009, Waterson fought former WIBA and IFBA Flyweight Boxing Champion Elena Reid at Apache Gold: Extreme Beatdown. Reid won the fight by TKO in the second round.
Waterson faced the debuting Rosary Califano at EB - Beatdown at 4 Bears 6 and won by submission due to a flying armbar in just 15 seconds.
She faced Masako Yoshida at Crowbar MMA: Spring Brawl on April 24, 2010. Waterson won the fight by TKO in the first round.
Waterson returned to MMA on January 21, 2012. She faced Diana Rael at Jackson's MMA Series 7 and won the fight by rear-naked choke in the first round.
Invicta Fighting Championships
Waterson faced Lacey Schuckman at Invicta FC 3: Penne vs. Sugiyama on October 6, 2012. After three back and forth rounds, Waterson defeated Schuckman via split decision. The bout was named Fight of the Night.
Waterson challenged for the Invicta FC Atomweight Championship when she faced Jessica Penne in the main event of Invicta FC 5: Penne vs. Waterson on April 5, 2013. Waterson won the fight via armbar submission in the fourth round to become the Invicta FC Atomweight Champion. On September 6, 2014, Waterson successfully defended her championship against Yasuko Tamada in the main event of Invicta FC 8 via TKO in the third round.
Waterson next headlined Invicta FC 10 on December 5, 2014, in Houston against Brazilian Hérica Tibúrcio. She lost the fight via a guillotine choke submission in the third round.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
On April 28, 2015, it was reported that Waterson had officially signed with the UFC and was expected to compete in the Women's Strawweight division. Waterson made her promotional debut against Angela Magaña on July 12, 2015, at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale. She won the fight via submission in the third round.
Waterson was next expected to meet Tecia Torres at UFC 194. However, she was forced to pull out of the bout on November 24, 2015, citing a knee injury.
After over a year-and-a-half away from the sport due to injuries, Waterson returned in December 2016 to face Paige VanZant in the main event at UFC on Fox 22. She won the fight via technical submission due to a rear naked choke in the first round. The win also earned Waterson her first Performance of the Night bonus award.
Waterson fought Rose Namajunas on April 15, 2017, at UFC on Fox 24. She lost via rear naked choke. Waterson faced Tecia Torres on December 2, 2017, at UFC 218. She lost the fight by unanimous decision.
Waterson faced Cortney Casey at UFC on Fox 29 on April 14, 2018. She won the fight via split decision. Waterson next faced Felice Herrig on October 6, 2018, at UFC 229. She won the fight via unanimous decision.
Waterson fought Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC on ESPN 2 on March 30, 2019. She won the fight via unanimous decision.
Waterson faced Joanna Jędrzejczyk on October 12, 2019 at UFC on ESPN+ 19. She lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Waterson was scheduled to face Carla Esparza on April 11, 2020 at UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Harris. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was eventually postponed and the bout eventually took place on May 9, 2020 at UFC 249. She lost the fight via split decision.
Waterson was scheduled to meet Angela Hill on August 22, 2020 at UFC on ESPN 15. However, due to some personal reasons on Waterson’s side, the bout was moved three weeks later to UFC Fight Night 177. She won the fight via split decision. This fight earned her the Fight of the Night award.
Michelle Waterson Official Social Network Profile/Page/Account:Tags: 1986 births, American female mixed martial artists
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