The UFC’s strawweight division has seen a fair share of new title contenders rise to the top of the division ever since Rose Namajunas dethroned former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in November 2017.
While names like Tatiana Suarez, Nina Ansaroff, and Weili Zhang rising up the ranks and inching towards title contention, a veteran, Michelle Waterson, coming off the biggest win of her career, feels she deserves the next title shot and believes the timing is perfect for it.
In an interview with BJPenn.com, Waterson discussed her win over Kowalkiewicz at UFC Philadelphia, how the strawweight division is taking shape, and why she feels the timing is perfect for her to get a title shot.
While much hype has surrounded the likes of Suarez and Ansaroff as potential title challengers, Waterson believes that she is calling for a title shot at the right time.
“I’ve been fighting for a very long time, I’ve been in the UFC for a good amount of time, all the girls I’ve fought in the UFC are top-10 or have been top-10 for the majority of my fights,” Waterson said. “It’s all about timing right? Every time we went to ask for my next opponent, it was always someone who was above me. We were shooting for Karolina for a long time, it just never ended up happening because of timing or because she was matched up. Same with Carla [Esparza], same with all the other girls I’ve fought.
“I believe that this timing is right for me, I put on a really dominant performance against a game fighter who has fought the champ and pretty much anybody who is anybody, and I was able to win decisively. I do think that Tatiana is a contender, but I feel like I should get the shot before she does, that’s just my opinion. I think the fight would sell, and I’m excited to ask for it.”
With Namajunas is set to defend her title against Jessica Andrade at UFC 237 on May 11 and Suarez is scheduled to fight Ansaroff in a possible title eliminator at UFC 238 in June, Waterson believes her win over Kowalkiewicz sets her up with the best timing to meet the champion next.
“If I could get out to Brazil to watch the girls live, that would be even better,” Waterson said. “I’m all for it, this is why I fight, I’m trying to get the top, I’ve been trying since the beginning, and I feel like the momentum of a three-fight win streak is a good amount of momentum. I’m here to do that and this is what I want to do.”
As she acknowledges that timing is everything, Waterson feels as she is in familiar territory, except this time she believes she’s ready to contend.
“I do think that timing is everything and I do believe that everything happens for a reason,” She explained. “We were right in the same spot as we are now, right before I fought Rose, and it didn’t end up panning out how I wanted it, but they say everything happens for a reason. It forced me to go back to the drawing board and fix a couple of things, and now I feel like I’m ready to be a contender.”
New contenders are rising to the top of the UFC’s strawweight division, but ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson is looking to strike her golden opportunity. If timing is everything and everything happens for a reason, then Waterson is hoping that the timing of her most recent win over a former title challenger will give her the opportunity to fight for the title sooner rather than later.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/9/2019