Known as “The Karate Hottie,” Michelle Waterson has developed a strong following in female MMA.
Waterson will return to the cage in April, taking on Jessica Penne at Invicta FC 5 for the atomweight championship. The card takes place from Kansas City, and the two will headline the event.
After giving birth – that’s a first for me in an MMA article, by the way – Waterson returned in 2012 and reeled off a pair of victories over Diana Rael and Lacey Schuckman, pushing her current win streak to four in a row.
The 27-year-old Jackson’s MMA-trained fighter recently talked with FightLine.com about the “joys” of having a child, returning to the gym and her upcoming bout with Penne.
Waterson and her husband welcomed a baby girl to this world in 2011. She credits two people with helping her balance out being a mother, wife and fighter – oh, and a mover, as the family is currently in the process of renovating and moving into a new home.
“I have my mom to help me a lot to watch the little one, and my husband is very supportive,” Waterson said. “Between the two of them, that’s how I am able to train and do the things I need to do.”
She added that when she does get to the gym, “I make sure to give it my all because I only have an allotted amount of time to train.”
While the balancing act is one that takes patience and help, it is something Waterson would not trade for the world.
“It’s crazy, and (having a child) totally changes your life; it takes over your life in a good way,” she said, “but when I drive home from training, I can’t wait to see her. and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Waterson brings her to the gym from time to time, and the youngster enjoys it.
“She watches me hit mitts and she will go and grab my bag and tells me, ‘Mommy, let’s go,’” Waterson said. “It is totally normal for her (to see me get hit in training) and she will yell at me and say, ‘Mommy, get your hands up.’”
Waterson last competed in October, the same night Penne defeated Naho Sugiyama via second round submission to become the first-ever atomweight champion. She went right to her manager and Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp and asked for the shot at Penne.
“I was able to watch her fight in October,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I asked my manager, my coach and Shannon if it would be okay if I fought her, because I think I can beat her.”
While many of the top female fighters in the world are entering the UFC, Waterson is happy with where she currently is.
“Invicta is amazing. They are just so professional, the entire staff, they make everyone feel respected,” she said. “That’s why I feel they have been able to propel themselves so fast. They expect a lot from the female fighters and in return, we give them what they expect.
“That’s what us females have been waiting for – to be taken seriously as an athlete. (Invicta FC) takes us seriously.”
You can follow Waterson on Twitter.