Waterson was the former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion at 105 lbs, but her move to UFC took her up a weight class to 115 lbs strawweight. Despite being smaller than most in the division, she looks much healthier and stronger at the higher weight and even reported putting on 5 lbs of muscle in this past year, as can be seen at the weigh-in for the fight.
A photo posted by Michelle Waterson (@karatehottiemma) on
When asked to call someone out, Waterson declined, saying she’s just interested in fighting for the belt so is interested in anyone top five that would get her there.
She eventually told TMZ Sports that she felt a fight with former Invicta FC Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza or Rose Namajunas, also an Invicta alumnus, would be desirable.
Her fight gym, Jackson-Wink MMA, posted a multiple choice survey on who fans would like to see Waterson fight next. I immediately selected Rose Namajunas, who defeated VanZant last year in a similar 5 x 5 minute headline event, with Namajunas submitting VanZant at literally the very last second of a grueling and bloody 25 minute war.
Being a veteran of 10 years, many are predicting that Waterson may be the new rising MMA star to break into the mainstream. For Asian American women and women in general, this is race and gender stereotype-shattering good news.
Asian American mixed martial artist Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson will be headlining Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card against Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant in a 115 lbs strawweight bout. The event will be in Sacramento, VanZant’s home court.
A couple years ago, a friend showed me a Ronda Rousey fight promotion video for Strikeforce and introduced me to Gina Carano‘s movie Haywire. It made me wonder if there were any Asian American women in mixed martial arts, so I started looking, and the first one I found was Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson. Just her name wasn’t enough to cue me in on the fact that she was of Thai descent. I saw a note about her Thai heritage on her wikipedia article, so I started to read and watch everything I could find about her.
Waterson’s story is really compelling, especially because she’s an Asian American woman who has to fight both gender and race stereotypes. I’m sure she’d be set for life if she got a dollar for every time someone asked her, “You’re so pretty, why would you fight?” On top of that, she’s a mom with a toddler in tow at every fight. She breaks so many molds, it’s hard to count them.
There was a really tense minute where Waterson got her arm really caught by Magana in an armbar, and it really looked like it was caught bad, but Waterson was able to shift and pull out. It’s not the first time we’ve seen Waterson’s flexibility and technique help her out of armbar danger.
After that exciting moment, the rest of the fight was just a showcase of Waterson’s abilities, including her newly upgraded wrestling strength and skills. After throwing Magana down a few times, a few armbar submission attempts, and basically very dominantly kicking, punching, and kneeing her opponent around the cage, Waterson finished the fight by choking Magana, causing the latter to tap out about midway through the third round.
For the full fight, check it out on the July 12, 2015 The Ultimate Fighter Finale on UFC Fight Pass.
MMA fighter, former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion, and mother Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson is featured in one of these new Samsung “Into the Galaxy” series commercials. The theme of this series appears to be people who are trying to shatter the status quo, and Waterson definitely fits the bill. Being a woman and an American of Asian descent, she fights objectification with her fists on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, as I attended the recent Invicta FC event at Los Angeles, I just couldn’t help but notice I was one of the very few Asian Americans and Asians in the audience of the whole event. This was also true when we went to the open workouts held for the event.
Now, granted, Americans of Asian descent only make up around 5% of the entire United States population. However, we are in LOS ANGELES. There are entire congressional districts that are Asian American down here, and LA has the largest population of Koreans outside of Korea, Taiwanese out of Taiwan, etc. There’s a Thai Town, a Little Saigon, (insert Asian heritage here)-town…you name it, we’ve got it. Koreatown, Little Tokyo, and Chinatown were only a 5 minute drive away from the event venue. University of Southern California (USC), a school known for it’s large number of international students, especially from Asia, was just across the street.
Probably a better measure of Asian American fans of MMA would have been UFC, the biggest MMA promotion, which I watched on broadcast from home instead of attending because the only tickets available were just way out of my price range.
I don’t attend many sports events in general, but it did make me wonder, what sports events in the United States would have a significant percentage of Asian or Asian American fans in the audience? ‘Cause there were barely any at the MMA event I attended. Thoughts anyone?
Invicta FC 10 was supposed to feature heavy-hitter Cristiane Cyborg as headliner, but sadly an injury canceled those plans. On the bright side, Michelle Waterson will be defending her belt against Herica Tiburcio from Brazil. Last night, both girls made their weights at the official weigh-ins.
Waterson’s last title defense is now available on UFC’s youtube as a free fight:
The last fight Michelle Waterson had was at Invicta FC 5 in April of 2013, when she won the Atomweight Championship belt from Jessica Penne. Nearly a year and a half later, she was finally able to defend her belt against Yasuko Tamada from Japan.
What was vividly clear to everyone right away at the weigh-ins and the moment Waterson stepped into the cage was that within the time she had been out of that cage, she had forged herself into a sword. Gone was the scrappy yet determined challenger who had pulled the belt right out from under her opponent with a surprising turnaround and totally unexpected submission win.
As she took on Tamada’s challenge, Waterson did what fans of combat sports refer to as “fighting like a champ”. She stood tall and proud, like a noble knight, and carefully picked apart her opponent with surgical strikes. She took no unnecessary risks and kept the whole fight standing, to her advantage. Each knee to the head and body, fist to the face, round house kick to the temple or ribs, and, yes, even a spinning back kick to ice off that flawless victory cake, was done with such poise and precision, it was quite a performance to watch. And yet, it was also hard to watch, because clearly Tamada was simply overwhelmed by Waterson’s presence and power. You can see at one point in the highlight video below that Tamada tried to hold Waterson against the cage, but the American fighter simple pushed Tamada around as if she were a feather caught up in a storm.
At the end, when the referee just had to stop the fight, Tamada’s coach, the legendary Japanese female MMA fighter Mega Megumi, looked really pained as she hugged a badly bruised up Tamada. Gotta hand it to Tamada for having a serious iron chin. Waterson went at her like a train bearing down on a hapless deer, and Tamada just kept on coming back and stayed standing even up until the last second. It was clear that if the ref hadn’t called it, Tamada would have gone the distance, Rocky style.
Waterson is 5′ 3″ with a pro MMA record of 11 wins and 3 losses. Tamada is 5′ with a pro MMA record of 15 wins and 8 losses. Waterson was originally a striker, coming from a karate and muay thai background, but she wins many of her bouts submitting her opponent on the ground. Tamada comes off as a well-rounded fighter as well, having a grappling background but demonstrating a lot of stand up in this fight on Youtube:
Waterson has the advantage in height and weight, but Tamada does look like she has a decent reach and is the more experienced fighter of the two, so everyone who tunes in the UFC Fight Pass tonight will likely be treated to a great fight as Tamada tries to snag the Atomweight Championship from Waterson.
Another fight on the card featuring a female Asian American MMA fighter is Jodie Esquibel against Jinh Yu Frey. Esquibel has got a pro record of 3 wins and 1 loss, while Frey’s record is 2 wins and 0 losses, though Frey is well known for her viral knock-out video in which she breaks her hand putting her opponent to sleep in the cage.
With all these female fighters of Asian descent making noise in the MMA world, I hope we’re making a significant dent in the “helpless Asian girl” stereotype. Nothing helpless about a girl willing to test her metal in the cage.
If you didn’t already know, the announcement that UFC Fight Pass is now distributing top female MMA promotion Invicta FC content was already big news, but the bigger news is they finally announced date and fight card for Invicta FC8: Waterson vs. Tamada.
That’s right, the highly anticipated IFC8 is headlined by two Asian women MMA fighters in a championship bout. Excuse me while I implode with excitement.
Asian American Michelle “Karate Hottie” Waterson will be defending her Atomweight champion belt against Yasuko Tamada from Japan. Another notable APIA female MMA fighter is Jinh Yu Frey, also atomweight, who will be fighting her first Invicta fight against Invicta veteran Jodi Esquibel. Time to get my Fight Pass.
A few months ago, a student from Yale University, Frances Chan, blogged in the Huffington Post about her horrific experience with Yale–she was 5’ 2” and about 90 lbs, and they designated her an “eating disorder” case and began to force her to gain weight. The problem was, Chan didn’t have an eating disorder, her body was just the way it was, but their use of the broad (and widely considered inaccurate) BMI measurements labeled her an anorexic that needed saving.
When I read this news, I realized this was the tragedy that would happen should I ever become dictator of the world (or at least master of all media content). I grew up idolizing Sarah Connor from the Terminator movies, and my idea of feminine beauty is this, one of my fighter athlete idols Cris Cyborg:
My view of feminine beauty of course is not something everyone can live up to, not even me. Cyborg is probably two or more weight classes above what I would probably be with a fight-ready body, and I don’t have her long arm reach, good for ground-and-pound from any angle. But a girl can try to live out her dream, can’t she? Continue reading “Am I Anorexic? Asian Girl Body Issues”