Michelle Waterson spoke to Bloody Elbow ahead of her UFC 218 date with Tecia Torres to talk Turkey Day fixings, takeaways from her Namajunas tilt, and future plans for title contention.
The UFC’s #6 strawweight, Michelle Waterson, is set to tangle with the #5 “Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres, at UFC 217 in Detroit Michigan on December 2, 2017. Waterson is looking to bounce back after dropping her last fight to now-champion, Rose Namajunas, back in April of this year, and hopes to find herself in title contention with a win over Torres. Before going to war with Torres, “The Karate Hottie” caught up with Bloody Elbow to discuss what it feels like to choke someone unconscious, recap her fight with Rose, and why she doesn’t mind missing out on all of the Thanksgiving Day fixings.
- Being in fight camp on Thanksgiving Day:
“I know a lot of people are like, ‘man, you’re going to miss out on Thanksgiving,’ but for me, it’s really just about spending time with the fam. Yeah, I might miss out on some of the gravy, and the good mashed potatoes, but I can still eat pretty healthy during Thanksgiving and be okay.”
- You followed up your UFC debut win against Angela Magana with a first-round technical submission of Paige VanZant. What does it feel like to choke somebody unconscious?
“I’ve done it a couple of different ways. It goes in two phases. I feel like Paige was still in the first phase, because when you’re choking somebody, there’s an initial point where you feel that they are beginning to lose consciousness, and then you feel their whole body go limp. So, I knew that she was going out. I felt the initial part of it, but didn’t feel the second part of it. Like as soon as I let go, I think some of the blood rushed back to her head, and she was able to kind of get her wits about her. But yeah, she was definitely one tough cookie.”
- Are you familiar with the match between Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee, where the referee stepped in, but there was no tap, but it kind of looked like Chiesa might have been in that first phase you’re speaking of?
“I didn’t get to see the fight, but did they continue to fight?”
- No, no. They stopped it. It appeared as if Chiesa quit defending and put his arms down, and then the referee stopped it at that exact moment. So, it’s like, is he out? Is he not out? Uhh…
“What did the fighter’s say?”
- Chiesa said he wasn’t out, Lee said the referee stopped the fight so it’s over, and Mario Yamasaki claimed that Chiesa went out.
“I do think our pride gets the better of us sometimes, especially when we’re in the heat of a fight, but I do think it’s important to recognize when you lose, and recognize that you got caught, and swallow your pride and say so. If the ref wouldn’t have stepped in, he could have gone unconscious, and that is very dangerous. That’s what the refs are there for. They’re able to see stuff that we’re not able to see.”
- In your last outing, you fell short to the now-champion Rose Namajunas at UFC on FOX 24. Despite the loss, how do feel about your performance out there?
“I thought I had a really good gameplan against Rose. The fight game is real fickle, just like technology haha (inside joke). Anything can happen on any given day, and it’s important to realize that. It’s important to understand that even though you take a loss, it’s not a step backwards. It’s a step forward, because I’m continuing to learn; I’m continuing to grow as a fighter, as a martial artist. It’s trying to fit all the pieces to the puzzle together. Everything has to fall into place on that one night. You only have 15-25 minutes to get it done.”
- The big takeaway:
“What I realized in that fight, is the caliber of girls I’m having to face now, in the Top-5, and it’s more so not much of who is the better fighter, but more so who makes the first mistakes. So, you have to really be able to hone in your skills and stay focused, and I think that’s what’s important fighting these top level girls.”
What would you say surprised you the most about Rose, if anything?
“I’ve trained with Rose before, so there was nothing surprising. She comes to fight. She’s a very genuine person. She’s a martial artist through and through, so there was nothing surprising. There were some things on my part that had fallen through. We went back to the drawing board and fixed those things up, and we’re going to go out there December 2nd and get that W.”
- Leading up to the Namajunas fight, you were really taking on a lot of media obligations to really sell the fight. Do you think that was somewhat of a distraction that took your focus away from the fight a little bit?
“I don’t want to say it was a distraction, because they were things I took on knowingly. It didn’t hinder my training; I was still training really hard. I was still really focused on what I had to get done. What I will say, is that it’s important to find a balance. At the end of the day, we fight for the UFC, and it’s a sport of entertainment. So, you have to understand that you have to be able to do both. Like I said, a good balance is important, and knowing how much you can and can’t do is also important, and you don’t know that until you go through it. You don’t know what you can and can’t take on. Some people can take on more media obligations, and some people can’t. I’m finding that out right now. I’m just trying to find a good balance on what’s best for me.”
- Well, we definitely appreciate you taking out the time to speak with Bloody Elbow, so if you don’t do any other media for UFC 218, we thank you!
- Namajunas went on to dethrone Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 to become the UFC’s new strawweight queen. Are you hunting for that rematch?
“I would love a rematch. I 100% love a rematch. I would have loved a rematch whether or not Rose won [the title], for my own sake, but it’s even better now that she’s the champ. So, yes I would love a rematch.”
- Your UFC 218 opponent, Tecia Torres, got on the mic after her submission win over Juliana Lima, and proceeded to call you, asking for a Karate vs. Karate match. Were you cool with the call out?
“When somebody decides to call you out, I guess that means you made it, right? So, I’m not mad about it. At that time, there were a lot of people calling me out. My name was pretty popular, and still is, so I’m not complaining.”
- Do you think it will actually be Karate vs. Karate, or do you think it’ll end up being a grappling exchange?
“Iiiiiiiiii dooooon’t knoooooow. Dun dun dunnnn! That’s why it’s MMA. It’s amazing that we both have traditional martial arts backgrounds. Her strengths are my strengths, and I believe her weaknesses are my strengths, so I think that’s going to play well for me.”
- What’s next for the “Karate Hottie”? Are you going to get on the mic and call anyone out?
“I am the worst at calling people out. There’s a lot of stuff that’s going on in my personal life right now, and I just might get on the mic and tell people to give hugs like Rose did haha. To be honest with you, fighting Tecia Torres, and being victorious, will cement my overall objective, which is to get back to title contention. As long as I’m moving forward that way, whoever they put in front of me is who I’m going to have to fight.”
Watch Michelle Waterson tangle with Tecia Torres at UFC 218 on December 2, 2017. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!