Michelle Waterson

Michelle Eileen Waterson[1] (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 and 2014, she was ranked the No. 1 women's atomweight fighter in the world.[8] As of August 23, 2022, she is #11 in the UFC women's strawweight rankings.[9]

Michelle Waterson
Michelle Waterson smiling UFC 229.jpg
Waterson interviewed after UFC 229
BornMichelle Eileen Waterson[1]
(1986-01-06) January 6, 1986 (age 36)
Aurora, Colorado, U.S.
Other namesThe Karate Hottie
NationalityAmerican
Height5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)[2]
Weight115 lb (52 kg; 8.2 st)
DivisionAtomweight (2012–2015)
Strawweight (2007–2012, 2015–present)
Flyweight (2008, 2021)
Reach62 in (157 cm)[3]
Fighting out ofAlbuquerque, New Mexico
TeamJackson Wink MMA Academy (2007–present)[4]
RankBlack belt in American Freestyle Karate[5]
Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu[5][6] under Rafael de Freitas and Roberto Alencar[7]
Years active2007–present (MMA)
2008 (Kickboxing)
Kickboxing record
Total1
Wins0
Losses1
Mixed martial arts record
Total28
Wins18
By knockout3
By submission9
By decision6
Losses10
By knockout1
By submission4
By decision5
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Early lifeEdit

Born in Colorado Springs and raised in Aurora, Waterson is of European and Thai descent: her father is American and mother Thai.[10] She began her modeling career in 2004 after she graduated from Aurora Central High School.[11][12] She then attended the University of Denver until she realized she wanted to pursue a career in fighting.[13]

Early martial arts careerEdit

Her early interest in Gymnastics, and inability to pay for classes, led her to Karate at the age of ten.[14]

Waterson holds a black belt in American Freestyle Karate and has also trained in Wushu, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and Wrestling.[15]

Waterson rose to fame as a contestant on the Muay Thai-themed Fight Girls reality show on the Oxygen television network.[16] She was also featured as one of the fighters in the MTV/MTV2 reality show Bully Beatdown.[17]

Professional mixed martial arts careerEdit

Waterson made her MMA debut on February 16, 2007, at Ring of Fire 28: Evolution against Andrea Miller, winning the fight by unanimous decision.[18] She made her debut without having any amateur fights.[19]

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.[18]

Waterson made her Strikeforce debut against Tyra Parker at Strikeforce: Payback on October 3, 2008.[16] She won the fight by rear naked choke submission in the first round.[20]

Waterson faced Karina Taylor at Duke City MMA Series 1 on March 1, 2009.[21] 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.[22]

On April 11, 2009, Waterson fought former WIBA and IFBA Flyweight Boxing Champion Elena Reid at Apache Gold: Extreme Beatdown.[23] Reid won the fight by TKO in the second round.[24]

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.[25]

She faced Masako Yoshida at Crowbar MMA: Spring Brawl on April 24, 2010.[26] Waterson won the fight by TKO in the first round.[27]

Waterson returned to MMA on January 21, 2012. She faced Diana Rael at Jackson's MMA Series 7[28] and won the fight by rear-naked choke in the first round.[29]

Invicta Fighting ChampionshipsEdit

Waterson faced Lacey Schuckman at Invicta FC 3: Penne vs. Sugiyama on October 6, 2012.[30] After three back and forth rounds, Waterson defeated Schuckman via split decision.[31] The bout was named Fight of the Night.[32]

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.[33][34][35] Waterson won the fight via armbar submission in the fourth round to become the Invicta FC Atomweight Champion.[36][37] 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.[38]

Waterson next headlined Invicta FC 10 on December 5, 2014, in Houston against Brazilian Hérica Tibúrcio.[39] She lost the fight via a guillotine choke submission in the third round.[40]

Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit

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.[41] She won the fight via submission in the third round.[42]

Waterson was next expected to meet Tecia Torres at UFC 194.[43] However, she was forced to pull out of the bout on November 24, 2015, citing a knee injury.[44]

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.[45] 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.[46]

Waterson fought Rose Namajunas on April 15, 2017, at UFC on Fox 24.[47] She lost via rear naked choke. Waterson faced Tecia Torres on December 2, 2017, at UFC 218.[48] She lost the fight by unanimous decision.[49]

Waterson faced Cortney Casey at UFC on Fox 29 on April 14, 2018.[50] She won the fight via split decision.[51] Waterson next faced Felice Herrig on October 6, 2018, at UFC 229.[52] She won the fight via unanimous decision.[53]

Waterson fought Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC on ESPN 2 on March 30, 2019.[54] She won the fight via unanimous decision.[55]

Waterson faced Joanna Jędrzejczyk on October 12, 2019 at UFC Fight Night 161.[56] She lost the fight via unanimous decision.[57]

Waterson was scheduled to face Carla Esparza on April 11, 2020 at UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Harris.[58] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was eventually postponed[59] and the bout eventually took place on May 9, 2020 at UFC 249.[60] She lost the fight via split decision.[61]

Waterson was scheduled to meet Angela Hill on August 22, 2020 at UFC on ESPN 15.[62] However, due to some personal reasons on Waterson's side, the bout was moved three weeks later to UFC Fight Night 177.[63] She won the fight via split decision.[64] This fight earned her the Fight of the Night award.[65] After the fight, Waterson was awarded her BJJ brown belt in the octagon from her coach, Gracie Barra's Rafael 'Barata' Freitas.[66]

Waterson was scheduled to face Amanda Ribas on January 24, 2021 at UFC 257.[67] However, Waterson pulled out of the bout in early December due to undisclosed reasons.[68] She was replaced by Marina Rodriguez.[69] In May 2021, Waterson clarified that the reason for withdrawal was the loss of two grandparents.[12]

Waterson faced Marina Rodriguez on May 8, 2021 at UFC on ESPN 24.[70] She lost the fight via unanimous decision.[71]

Waterson was scheduled to face Amanda Ribas on March 26, 2022 at UFC Fight Night 205.[72] However, the bout was postponed to UFC 274 on May 7, 2022 due to Waterson sustaining an undisclosed injury.[73]

Waterson faced Amanda Lemos on July 16, 2022, at UFC on ABC 3.[74] She lost the fight via a guillotine choke submission in the second round.[75]

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

Mixed martial artsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Waterson is married to former U.S. Armed Forces amateur boxing champion Joshua Gomez.[80][81] On September 16, 2010, Waterson announced that she was pregnant with her first child and recently engaged.[82] She gave birth to a daughter on March 18, 2011.[83]

Waterson got her 'Karate Hottie' nickname after she went to a Hooters calendar shoot.[84]

Media appearancesEdit

In 2008, Knockouts released a calendar featuring her.[85]

She is featured in the music video for Head Crusher, the first single from the Endgame album by the American Metal band Megadeth.[86]

On June 24, 2014, she appeared on American Ninja Warrior but failed to qualify when she fell on the first obstacle.

She was also featured on Bully Beatdown. She was the central character of the 2016 documentary Fight Mom.[87][88]

In 2017, Waterson competed on the special mini-series for the MTV reality show The Challenge titled Champs vs. Stars.[89] That same year, she was featured in The Body Issue.[90]

Waterson also performed some stunts in the Marvel movie, Thor, for Natalie Portman.[84]

Selected filmographyEdit

Year Film Role Notes
2010 MacGruber Club Babe #1
2011 Fright Night Vamp #2
2012 Jackie Chinese waitress
2022 Havoc[91]

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
28 matches 18 wins 10 losses
By knockout 3 1
By submission 9 4
By decision 6 5
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 18–10 Amanda Lemos Submission (guillotine choke) UFC on ABC: Ortega vs. Rodríguez July 16, 2022 2 1:48 Elmont, New York, United States
Loss 18–9 Marina Rodriguez Decision (unanimous) UFC on ESPN: Rodriguez vs. Waterson May 8, 2021 5 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Flyweight bout.
Win 18–8 Angela Hill Decision (split) UFC Fight Night: Waterson vs. Hill September 12, 2020 5 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Fight of the Night.
Loss 17–8 Carla Esparza Decision (split) UFC 249 May 9, 2020 3 5:00 Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Loss 17–7 Joanna Jędrzejczyk Decision (unanimous) UFC Fight Night: Joanna vs. Waterson October 12, 2019 5 5:00 Tampa, Florida, United States
Win 17–6 Karolina Kowalkiewicz Decision (unanimous) UFC on ESPN: Barboza vs. Gaethje March 30, 2019 3 5:00 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 16–6 Felice Herrig Decision (unanimous) UFC 229 October 6, 2018 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 15–6 Cortney Casey Decision (split) UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje April 14, 2018 3 5:00 Glendale, Arizona, United States
Loss 14–6 Tecia Torres Decision (unanimous) UFC 218 December 2, 2017 3 5:00 Detroit, Michigan, United States
Loss 14–5 Rose Namajunas Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Reis April 15, 2017 2 2:47 Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Win 14–4 Paige VanZant Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC on Fox: VanZant vs. Waterson December 17, 2016 1 3:21 Sacramento, California, United States Performance of the Night.
Win 13–4 Angela Magaña Submission (rear-naked choke) The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians Finale July 12, 2015 3 2:38 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Return to Strawweight.
Loss 12–4 Hérica Tibúrcio Submission (guillotine choke) Invicta FC 10: Waterson vs. Tiburcio December 5, 2014 3 1:06 Houston, Texas, United States Lost the Invicta FC Atomweight Championship. Fight of the Night.
Win 12–3 Yasuko Tamada TKO (knee and punches) Invicta FC 8: Waterson vs. Tamada September 6, 2014 3 4:58 Kansas City, Missouri, United States Defended the Invicta FC Atomweight Championship.
Win 11–3 Jessica Penne Submission (armbar) Invicta FC 5: Penne vs. Waterson April 5, 2013 4 2:31 Kansas City, Missouri, United States Won the Invicta FC Atomweight Championship.
Win 10–3 Lacey Schuckman Decision (split) Invicta FC 3: Penne vs. Sugiyama October 6, 2012 3 5:00 Kansas City, Kansas, United States Atomweight debut. Fight of the Night.
Win 9–3 Diana Rael Submission (rear-naked choke) Jackson's MMA Series 7 January 21, 2012 1 2:12 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Win 8–3 Masako Yoshida TKO (punches) Crowbar MMA: Spring Brawl April 24, 2010 1 4:17 Fargo, North Dakota, United States
Win 7–3 Rosary Califano Submission (flying armbar) EB - Beatdown at 4 Bears 6 February 13, 2010 1 0:15 New Town, North Dakota, United States
Loss 6–3 Elena Reid TKO (punches) Apache Gold: Extreme Beatdown April 11, 2009 2 1:50 Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Win 6–2 Karina Taylor Technical Submission (armbar) Duke City MMA Series 1 March 14, 2009 1 2:36 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Win 5–2 Tyra Parker Submission (rear-naked choke) Strikeforce: Payback October 3, 2008 1 1:20 Denver, Colorado, United States Flyweight bout.
Win 4–2 Krystal Macatol Submission (armbar) SCA: Bike n Brawl 2 August 23, 2008 1 0:22 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Win 3–2 Thricia Poovey TKO (corner stoppage) KOTC: Badlands July 12, 2008 2 5:00 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Loss 2–2 Lynn Alvarez Submission (guillotine choke) Ring of Fire 31: Undisputed December 1, 2007 1 1:19 Broomfield, Colorado, United States
Win 2–1 Jaime Cook Submission (armbar) Ring of Fire 30: Domination September 15, 2007 1 1:33 Broomfield, Colorado, United States
Loss 1–1 Alicia Gumm Decision (unanimous) RMBB: Battle of the Arts June 30, 2007 2 5:00 Denver, Colorado, United States
Win 1–0 Andrea Miller Decision (unanimous) Ring of Fire 28: Evolution February 16, 2007 3 3:00 Broomfield, Colorado, United States

[92]

Kickboxing recordEdit

Kickboxing record
0 wins, 1 loss, 0 draws
Date Result Opponent Event Location Method Round Time
2008-03-22 Loss   Catia Vitoria XFA 1 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Decision (unanimous) 3 3:00
Legend:   Win   Loss   Draw/No contest   Notes

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by 2nd Invicta FC Atomweight Champion
April 5, 2013 – December 5, 2014
Succeeded by