The UFC is ready for the return of the “Karate Hottie.”
The fight promotion on Monday confirmed Michelle Waterson, who lives in Albuquerque and trains at Jackson-Wink MMA, will return to the octagon on Dec. 12 in Las Vegas, Nev., at UFC 194. She will fight undefeated Tecia Torres, the UFC’s No. 5 ranked women’s strawweight fighter.
“For me, that’s exactly what I wanted,” Waterson said of getting a highly-ranked fighter in just her second fight under her UFC contract. “I asked for somebody in the top 10. I think Tecia is a very game opponent to show that I’m making my way up the ladder. … For them to match me up with Tecia, it’s an honor. It’s good that they see me in that light.”
UFC 194 will be headlined by the long-awaited featherweight championship fight between champion Jose Aldo and interim champion Conor McGregor.
Waterson, No. 11 in the UFC’s rankings with a 13-4 professional mixed martial arts record, won her UFC debut seven weeks ago in Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena, where she will return for her second UFC fight.
In her July 12 win over Angela Magana, a third round submission by rear naked choke, Waterson broke her right hand. Her cast was removed last week and she’s not allowed to start striking with it for eight weeks, but the thought is she will be fully recovered in time for the Dec. 12 fight.
Even without the striking, there’s plenty Waterson can work on in her preparation for Torres, who Waterson says is well-rounded.
“Right now we’re working a lot on agility, footwork and movement,” Waterson said. “I think those will be crucial in this fight with Tecia.”
Torres (6-0), who beat Magana by decision in her UFC debut in December, should be a much tougher opponent for Waterson. Torres has won all six of her professional fights by unanimous decision, including going 2-0 in the UFC (she beat Angela Hill in June).
Both Waterson and Torres have notable victories on their records from their time fighting under the Invicta FC umbrella. Waterson beat the UFC’s No. 4 ranked Jessica Penne in 2013 while Torres has Invicta wins over No. 3 Rose Namajunas and No. 7 Paige VanZant.
Waterson’s fight is just another in a growing list of high profile UFC fights in the next few months for Jackson-Wink MMA.
Saturday, her teammates John Dodson (main event for the flyweight championship) and Andrei Arlovski (co-main event) both fight in Las Vegas at UFC 191. Training partner and close friend Holly Holm takes on Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia, on Nov. 14. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone fights Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight title in the headlining fight at UFC Fight Night on Dec. 19 in Orlando.
“This is a huge year for us,” Waterson said of the Jackson-Wink team. “You definitely get the sense that everybody is there to get to business. There is definitely a heightened sense of determination.”
TUF ENOUGH? Albuquerque’s Andres “The Bullet” Quintana, who is originally from Roswell, was named Monday one of 32 contestants in the next season of the UFC’s reality show The Ultimate Fighter, which premieres Sept. 9 on Fox Sports 1.
Quintana (8-1) trains at Luttrell’s MMA. He is one of 16 fighters listed on the United States team, which will be cut to eight in the opening episode, and be coached by Urijah Faber. The other team, featuring 16 European fighters, will be coached by McGregor.