Michelle Waterson enters UFC Vegas 10 this weekend with another big opportunity in front of her. This time, it’s something of an unexpected one — Waterson and Angela Hill wound up promoted to the card’s main event, after the loss of the light heavyweight scrap between Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos.
In this case, the opportunity in front of her is to bounce back, in a big way, with a bigger spotlight than expected. Waterson (17-8) is coming off a pair of losses, most recently to ex-champ Carla Esparza. That was the second straight loss to a former champ for “The Karate Hottie,” after her previous bout saw her fall to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Both fights went the distance.
The takeaway from that last loss, Waterson told Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 10 media day, is to “not be so hung up on strategy.”
“There’s always gonna be those ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’s.’ And what I understand is that everything happens for a reason,” Waterson explained. “I had to come back to the gym and understand, to not leave it in the hands of the judges. It was my fight to be won and it slipped through my fingers and that’s my fault. It was a very close fight and it didn’t have to be. So that’s what I learned, to take control the situation and if I have the opportunity to finish the fight, finish the fight.”
At 34 and coming off a pair of losses, you might think the pressure is on for Waterson. It’s not as if the UFC is about to cut the popular fighter, but there’s still that question of time. Waterson, however, is careful not to look too far ahead.
“I found myself falling into the trap of trying to look ahead and trying to map out my journey. And all that does is distract me from being in the moment,” she admitted. “And so right now I’m in the moment. My focus and mission is to beat Angela this Saturday. And that’s what I’m focusing on.”
That mindset is something she brings to her training as well. “All camp is just to improve and to get better and to unleash what I have inside of me,” Waterson explained. “I’ve been fighting for over 13 years, I’ve been doing martial arts for over 25 years. I mean, it’s it’s insane that I don’t go in and step into the octagon and unleash all of my tools. That’s just what I’ve really embraced this fight camp, to love what I do, to go out there and utilize all the tools that I have, and to not restrict myself from any of it because it is MMA.”
By that, Waterson means that she’s not just a stand up fighter. “I have nine submission wins under my wing. I have an amazing world renowned wrestling coach. I have an amazing husband who was an amazing boxer in his own right who’s been sharpening my tools as a boxer. So I have all these tools. I’m just gonna let it all out.”
When it comes to getting the W at UFC Vegas 10, Waterson acknowledged that both her and Angela Hill are motivated. “We’re both really hungry to get back in there and get in the win column, especially after those controversial fights,” she stated. “And that’s what it is. I’m hungry and I’m looking to fill my belly with that W and so I know she is too, but I’m starving.”
UFC Vegas 10 takes place this Saturday, September 12 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card airs live on ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).