The UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor pay-per-view main card opened with a strawweight battle between top-ten contenders Felice Herrig and Michelle Waterson. In the end, it was Waterson who prevailed with a well-rounded performance, as she landed the better strikes throughout the fight, even when she was put on her back by Herrig in the final round. Waterson also fared well and neutralized Herrig’s attempts to take her down and initiate clinches. It’s Waterson’s second straight win, and Herrig’s second straight loss.
Waterson sought to control the distance early with side kicks and high kicks. Neither woman landed too many telling blows in the first couple of minutes, but Herrig was able to tag Waterson with a left hook and drive her to the fence for a clinch. They exchanged knees to the legs and midsections, and Waterson connected on an elbow while against the fence. A late trip-takedown by Herrig was unsuccessful, as Waterson held her ground. Certainly not thrill-a-minute stuff and a closely contested opening frame.
Herrig continued to pursue a clinch battle, using her strength to try and outmuscle and outmaneuver Waterson. After Waterson exited the clinch, she landed a good elbow and a strong head kick that seemed to hurt Herrig. That led to a throw and takedown by Waterson, who threw several ground strikes and maintained control of her opponent through the remainder of the second round.
Waterson looked for another takedown in round three but Herrig was privy to it and swept her immediately. However, Herrig absorbed some hard elbows from the bottom. Waterson was the more active fighter on offense while on her back than Herrig was on top. Waterson went for an omoplata, which Herrig fended off and went back into guard with 2:30 remaining. Jason Herzog stood the fighters up, after which Waterson tried a single-leg takedown and could not get it. Herrig clinched Waterson against the fence and not much got done there. Herrig attacked the body with her strike selection, then got clocked with a front kick to the face. The speed and timing of Waterson was key to her winning those few striking exchanges and picking up the victory.
Official result: Michelle Waterson def. Felice Herrig by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 30-27)