Ben Nguyen should move up the UFC Flyweight ranks with 49 second submission of Tim Elliott

Ben “Ben 10” Nguyen will most likely move up the UFC Flyweight ranks with his 49 second submission of #9 ranked Tim Elliott at UFC Fight Night:  Lewis vs. Hunt.   #12 ranked flyweight Nguyen was scheduled to fight #2 ranked Joseph Benavidez, but after Benavidez pulled out of the match with an injury, Ultimate Fighter winner #8 ranked Tin Elliott became his new opponent.  Nguyen stunned Elliott with a head kick and a knee, and when Elliott threw him with a head and arm throw, Nguyen took his back and submitted him.  The head and arm throw is a risky move in MMA, as it exposes the thrower’s back.  Michelle Waterson used it successfully in her win over Paige VanZant, but against Rose Namajunas, she ended getting her back taken in a similar fashion to Elliott.  “Ben 10” received a performance bonus for his quick and vicious work.

At the end of the match, Nguyen ask the crowd if they thought that the fight was boring.  He was referring to thoughts by the UFC to get rid of the flyweight division as it did not seem to be popular, despite division champion Demetrious Johnson being ranked as the best pound for pound fighter.  I hope that they don’t get rid of the division, especially as Ben Nguyen is gaining prominence not just for beating up a tattooed bully but also winning 4 out 5 matches in the Octagon.

Michelle Waterson Submitted by Rose Namajunas at UFC on Fox 24

#6 ranked UFC women’s Strawweight Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson had a lot of momentum going into UFC on Fox 24.  She had previously defeated Page VanZant, and there was an online poll to see who she should fight after that.  At UFC event, she went up against #4 ranked Rose “Thug” Namajunas.   Namajunas caught her flush in the head with a kick in the second round and later submitted her with a rear naked choke.

In the first round, Waterson tried the same head and arm throw that worked against Paige VanZant, but Namajunas was cleared prepared for it, hooking Waterson’s leg and then taking her back.   The second round kick to her head was very accurate and dropped her, and although Waterson seemed to recover, she was eventually choked out.  If I was a fighter, I am not sure I would have brought my kid or my mom to watch my fights (see highlight video) – nice if you win, but not so nice if you lose.  Namajunas is looking for a title shot after her excellent performance.  Waterson reports that she is healthy despite some bumps and bruises, and that it’s time to get back to work.

Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson Defeats Paige VanZant

In a fight that drew about 5 million viewers, Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson dominated Paige VanZant, choking her unconscious with a rear naked choke a little over 3 minutes into a fight that was supposed to go for 5 x 5 minute rounds. Waterson’s win shifts her up from rank 11 to rank 7, effectively taking VanZant’s spot in the rankings.

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.

Ready to rock and roll!!! #teamhottie #ufcsacramento #12gaugeaintgotnothingontheseguns #hehe #imadeafunny

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.

Happily for me, Namajunas jumped in and called Waterson out. The strong star power of both combat athletes and their high rankings makes this a very likely match up worthy of a main event.

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.

UFC Waterson vs. VanZant

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.


Since her win over Angela Magana at her UFC debut back in the summer of 2015, Waterson has had to cancel two fights due to injuries.

VanZant is coming off a win against Bec Rawlings, but spent the earlier part of this year getting into the finals of Dancing with the Stars.

I predict Waterson to win, not just because she’s more seasoned and experienced. Waterson’s game and skills are a lot more refined. Plus, the Karate Hottie is fighting out of what is consistently considered the best MMA fight gym out there, Jackson-Wink MMA.

Of course, anything can happen in the octagon, but I’m looking forward to seeing Waterson making her way up the ranks and taking that UFC strawweight belt.

I'm pumped up after watching my teammates get down👊let's go!!!! #ufcsacramento #teamhottie

A photo posted by Michelle Waterson (@karatehottiemma) on

“Into The Badlands” Episode Review “Hand of Five Poisons”

Cung Le in Into The Badlands.

Into The Badlands Season 1, Episode 6: “Hand of Five Poisons”
Original airdate December 20, 2015.


Sunny tries to buy passage for himself, Veil, and M.K. by bringing a false head to the River King. He’s supposed to kill M.K., but kills a lookalike instead. They have to leave that evening, but Veil confronts Sunny about her parents killing, confirming that Sunny stood by and did nothing as Quinn killed them. Sunny’s disloyalty is outed and Quinn locks him up, using him as a card to convince M.K. to be loyal to him, especially because Quinn has seen M.K.’s special powers in action in the previous episode. However, the Widow, Quinn’s son Ryder, and the skilled clipper Zypher move to kill Quinn and the other Baron Jakoby so they can take over. Quinn uses M.K. to fight them, but Quinn is killed by Sunny, who had been released by his old mentor from the jail. Also, a group of mysterious monks show up and collect M.K., making a mess of Sunny to get to him. In the end, M.K. is being taken away by the monks, and Sunny is kidnapped, too, but by the River King who plans on trading him into slavery somewhere down the river.

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“Fight Mom”: The Story of UFC’s Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson

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.

Watching this video promoting this documentary called “Fight Mom” about her life brings tears to my eyes because her story is so heartfelt. I can’t wait until it’s finished.

My family in a nutshell! Love them so much!

A photo posted by Michelle Waterson (@karatehottiemma) on

‘Into The Badlands’ Episode Review: “Fist Like a Bullet”


The Widow

Into The Badlands, Season 1, Episode 2: “Fist Like A Bullet”
Original airdate November 22, 2015.


An attempt on the life of The Widow (Emily Beeckman) reveals struggles for power between the Barons. After escaping from Baron Quinn’s (Marton Csokas) fortress, the mysterious M.K. (Aramis Knight) finds himself in The Widow’s territory. He meets Tilda (Ally Ioannides), one of The Widow’s top warriors, and they become friends. The Widow suspects M.K. could be the one with mysterious abilities the she’d been seeking, so she orders Tilda to attack and draw blood from M.K. However, Tilda only pretends to attack M.K., and The Widow gives him to a nomad group she has been working with.

Meanwhile, Sunny (Daniel Wu) finds out his Baron Quinn is dying, and Quinn orders him to slaughter his personal doctor, who also happens to be the adoptive parents of Sunny’s pregnant lover Veil (Madeleine Mantock). Sunny refuses, and Quinn carries out the killings himself, and this tragedy convinces Sunny to finally decide to try to leave the Badlands with Veil. In a showdown between Sunny and some some nomad bandits who have stolen some of Quinn’s opium, M.K. saves Sunny by killing the nomad leader. Sunny decides to take M.K. as his apprentice to train him how to fight.

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Love and a Bully lead Ben Nguyen to Victory at UFC 193 in Melbourne

Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Ben Nguyen (red gloves) reacts as he competes against Ryan Benoit (blue gloves) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Ben Nguyen (red gloves) reacts as he competes against Ryan Benoit (blue gloves) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
While the Holly Holm – Ronda Rousey fight was the focus of most people watching UFC 193 in Melbourne, Asian American Ben “10” Nguyen’s win over Ryan Benoit in the prelims caught my eye.  Announcer Joe Rogan called Nguyen’s performance “perfect.”  That victory was reached through a long and global path that includes love and a tattoed bully!  Ben Nguyen, born in South Dakota to Vietnamese immigrant parents, met an Australian girl when he was training in Thailand.  He followed her to Australia and continued his MMA career there.  A year after the actual fight, the above video with Julian “Julz the Jackal” Rabaud went viral, and the publicity helped Nguyen secure a UFC contract.

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Michelle Waterson’s UFC Win Angela Magana

UntitledWhat a fun fight this was (finally available on UFC Fightpass). And not just because Waterson won.

The fight started off generally even-footed, but there was a hint of what was to come as Magana tried to take down Waterson and Waterson was the one to throw her down on the octagon floor.

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.

First Invicta FC Champion from Japan: Ayaka Hamasaki

It was just last December 2014 when Herica Tiburcio from Brazil took the Invicta FC atom weight championship belt from America’s Michelle Waterson with a guillotine choke. On July 9th at Invicta FC 13, Japan’s Ayaka Hamasaki challenged Tiburcio for that atomweight belt and won it on a split decision. Hamasaki is now the first Japanese fighter to be a champion in a division of this all-women’s mixed martial arts fight promotion. Her coach and corner was the legendary Mega Megumi of the infamous toe hold finish.

Defeating the current UFC fighter Waterson is not a light affair, so you can imagine Tiburcio was quite the opponent at this lightning fast weight division. She had finished Waterson with a guillotine choke (imagine someone bending forward and under your armpit and you wrapping your arm around their neck and tightening it in a deathlock). I definitely expected Tiburcio to win this one, not knowing too much about Hamasaki, but as I saw Tiburcio attempt a few guillotine chokes on Hamasaki that failed and then Hamasaki advancing quite steadily in her striking against Tiburcio, I started to realize Hamasaki was not only holding her own but winning the fight, if only by a small lead.

Newly crowned atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki celebrates her victory with Team AACC in Japan!

A photo posted by Invicta Fighting Championship (@invictafc) on

When Hamasaki was announced the winner, she was the one suddenly overcome with emotion and tears as former champion Tiburcio came up to her with a big smile and gave her congratulatory hug. I became a fan of Hamasaki after that fight and am definitely looking forward to seeing her defend her belt.

Flyweight Boxer/MMA fighter Ana Julaton inspired a Heavyweight’s Comeback

MirReyesJulatonTwo time UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir had lost four matches in row, and his career clearly needed help. Inspiration for his resurgence would come from the unlikeliest of places, 125 pound boxing champion turned MMA fighter, Ana Julaton. How did a woman more than 100 pounds lighter than Mir help the heavyweight, a 262 pound man famous for breaking his opponents’ arms?

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AAPI MMA Fighters win at UFC Fight Night 66 in Manila as Mark Munoz Retires

Three Asian American/Pacific Islander MMA fighters won at UFC Fight Night 66 in Manila (Pasay to be exact) Philippines.  Jon “The Super Saiyan” Tuck, the first Chamorro signed to the UFC, submitted Tae Hyun Bang, by rear naked choke.  Mark “the Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz won his last match before retiring via unanimous decision over Luke Barnatt.  In his return to the UFC, Phillipe “The Filipino Assassin” Nover won a split decision victory over Yui Chul NammarkI thought he lost that deciding critical second round, but it was close.

It’s interesting how the UFC has used Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to enter new markets in Asia.   Cung Le, known in Asian for his action movie roles, headlined the UFC’s first event in China and later coached the Ultimate Fighter China.  Asia is not that far for Jon Tuck (he’s from Guam), who also was on the main card with Le in Macao in that first event.  Mark Munoz did tours and rallies in the Philippines to bring a UFC event there.   Munoz sold his MMA gym Reign and retired in order to spend more time with his family.