In a sport that may appear mostly dominated by males, Mixed Martial Arts stand-out, Michelle Waterson has made a career of proving this misconception wrong. With a professional record of 9-3 inside the cage, Waterson has taken the MMA world by storm – showing that both genders certainly have what it takes to make an impact on the sport.
Born and raised in Colorado (and of Thai descent), Waterson began practicing Martial Arts at a young age. She became involved with karate at the age of ten – picking up WuShu and Muay Thai along the way.
“I grew up with Martial Arts and I always knew it was something that I wanted as a part of my lifestyle,” Waterson told Rant Sports’ Dave Hilts, “I went to Thailand with my mother and trained there for a month. When I came home, I decided to start competing in Muay Thai. I met Donald Cerrone, and he began training me. He convinced me to take an MMA fight – so I did, and here we are today!”
Waterson made her professional debut at “Ring of Fire 28: Evolution” on February 16, 2007 in Broomfield, Colorado. She earned a unanimous decision victory over Andrea Miller. Her next three fights also took place in her home state – until finally making the move to Albuquerque, New Mexico – home of Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts.
“He makes you feel comfortable enough to trust him with your life!” Waterson shared regarding her experience training with Greg Jackson. “He has done so much for me in my professional career and my personal life.”
The move to New Mexico resulted in a four fight win streak – which included a spot on “Strikeforce: Payback” in Denver, Colorado against Tyra Parker. Waterson won her Strikeforce debut by way of a rear-naked choke in the first round.
Looking back on her current fight resume, Waterson believes that her most gratifying victory came against Trisha Poovey at “King of the Cage: Badlands” on July 12, 2008. Regarding the victory, Waterson added, “I was on the edge of losing that fight, and I turned the fight around and proved to myself that I have the heart of a fighter.”
In contrast, out of her three losses, the one to Elena Reid stung the most. “My head just wasn’t there,” Waterson admitted, “I’m always going to feel like, ‘man, shoulda, woulda, coulda’ – but it’s too late for all that…”
Waterson’s most recent fight came at “Jackson’s MMA Series 7” on January 21, with a first round rear-naked choke victory over Diana Rael. The bout was the first after a two year lay-off – in which Waterson gave birth to her first child, Araya, on March 18, 2011.
“It was a challenge for me. I needed to know that I could still do it, as a new mother, and for myself. I trained really hard and overcame any doubt that lingered in my mind. It was a great feeling.”
In terms of how becoming a mother directly impacts her life in the cage, Waterson made clear, “The biggest thing is that I want to be a good role model for my daughter. I want her to know that her mother went after her dreams, and that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. The mental part does get harder because I believe as a fighter you have to be selfish in order to focus on the task at hand, and being a mother, you have to be selfless – setting all your wants aside for your family. I do feel split at times – and sad when my little one wants me to stay, and I have to go train. It is definitely a sacrifice.”
When asked if she will allow Araya to practice the martial arts, Waterson professed both points of view, “Yes, because any type of Martial Art requires discipline – which all children need. Also, Martial Arts relates to life in every way. Life is a fight, and if you don’t think so, you’re not living it right. And then, no, because you have to sacrifice so much and sometimes it comes at a price. The truth is, it’s not for everyone, and you either have to do it 100% or not at all. ”
Waterson will return to the cage October 6 in a match-up with Lacey Schuckman at “Invicta Fighting Championships 3.” At age 24, Schuckman has amassed a record of 7-5 inside the cage, and is coming off a defeat at Invicta’s most recent event.
“I think that she is a pretty tough chick, with a well-rounded background,” Waterson admitted when it came to Schuckman, “I am excited to fight her!”
In terms of breaking down the fight, Waterson believes that her “experience, speed, flexibility, and ability to take advantage of an opportunity” will eventually grant her victorious in the bout. “I see us brawling for a short time, and then I will submit her.”
Be sure to follow Michelle Waterson on Twitter: @karatehottiemma, and tune into her fight October 6 at “Invicta Fighting Championships 3.”
– Dave Hilts
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