If there was ever a fighter who embodied the true definition of a martial artist, where the beauty is in the way the fighter fights, the way the fighter carries themselves, and the message they fight for, Michelle Waterson is that fighter.
In fact, while the ‘Karate Hottie’ sees her fanbase grow with every dance-off, every fight, and every social media interaction she has, Waterson looks to inspire on a much deeper level.
The No. 7 ranked UFC strawweight contender just wants to raise her daughter correctly, and become a champion because she feels that the timing is perfect in her career. All while being an inspiration and a role model for all to look up to as she uses the sport of MMA as her platform.
In an interview with BJPenn.com, Waterson spoke about her goals of becoming the first ever mother to be a UFC champion, leading her daughter down the right path, and hoping to be an inspiration for many others in life.
At a time where entertainment helps sell a fight over the performances of each fighter, Waterson has for a majority of her fights, always shown every opponent class and respect. And she says because the fight community is such a small and closed place, it’s important to embrace and appreciate both opponents and teammates alike.
“It’s a small world that we are encased in,” Waterson said. “I think it’s important to show that appreciation for somebody that you understand, somebody that you know who has gone through what you’ve gone through, it’s important to show respect to that.
“Now obviously if you’re talking about opponents, it’s not that way with all the opponents. Some opponents you’re more friendly with than others, at the end of the day we are stepping in there to take each other’s heads off. I think it’s important to show respect. But when it comes to teammates, none of this could be done without them. Yes, this is an individual sport but it takes a huge group of people to get you where you need to be, in order to fight at those championship levels, and I think it would be silly of me to let those relationships go untalked about, because those relationships are what made me who I am.”
The relationships with her teammates have helped Waterson get her to where she is as a fighter, but the relationship she values and works the hardest at is that as a mother. It’s a relationship that’s easy for Waterson to speak on because as she said, all mothers can speak about it.
“I think any mother can speak on that because that’s just what moms do,” She said. “It’s part of our job to look after our children and to want a better life for our children, no matter what we had, no matter where we started. The goal of a parent is to give your child a life that is better than yours. That’s how it has to continue, you give your children a better life and in turn, your children give their children a better life, and everyone is better for it.”
That relationship which Michelle Waterson works for every day, to provide for her child the best possible future moving forward… That drives her to want to be known as the first mother UFC champion in the promotion’s history. Waterson says it’s important to her legacy to achieve that goal because she wants to stand out in her own way.
“I just sat back one day and really thought about why I’m doing what I’m doing, what is the purpose of it all?” Waterson asked. “What am I going to do that is going to make me stand out outside of all the other people that are climbing to the top of the mountain and trying to get to the top? I thought about it and I said I’m doing all this while being a parent and that’s hard, it really is hard. It requires a lot of time, sacrifice, and focus.
“So I just thought it’d be a great goal to have and it’d be something that would cement my legacy as a fighter. Plus I just think that I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from all the fans about addressing it. Yes at the end of the day, I’m the Karate Hottie and I’m a fighter, but I’m a parent. There are tons of parents out there that have goals and aspirations and they pull motivation from me saying, don’t give up on your dreams because you’re a parent. I think that’s cool that we can all be on this journey together.”
As a parent, Michelle Waterson wants to bring her daughter fully into the life that she lives because she wants her to have the opportunity to embrace all parts of life, both good and bad.
“That’s why I bring her everywhere with me and she’s gone to every single one of my fights,” she said. “There is an uncertainty to that and there’s a risk to that because there’s only two outcomes in a fight. There’s always lessons to be learned on either end of the spectrum and I think it’s important for her to see that with her own eyes rather than me just tell her. My parenting style is that our children learn through our actions more than through what we say.”
Not only does Waterson feel that the UFC gives her a platform to be ‘Fight Mom’ and they embrace the way she wants to market herself, but more specifically, she thinks UFC President Dana White’s most recent act of kindness towards her daughter where he bought all her Girl Scout cookies will give her some valuable life lessons.
“Dana is a great person,” Waterson shared. “I don’t know why he gets so much negative media, but he’s just a true genuine person. I hope that people start realizing that person rather than what they are seeing. There’s so many things that he has done that people don’t know about that change peoples lives forever. I feel like something like what he did is going to shape the way my daughter thinks about who she wants to be when she grows up. To give an eight-year-old child that much encouragement over a video is going to boost her confidence 100 times and show her that the sky is the limit.”
Being a motivation to parents and her daughter, while chasing her dream to become a UFC champion, the Karate Hottie wants to be remembered for her vicious beauty.
“I’d like them to remember me as the most well-rounded female fighter in the UFC,” She said. “I feel like I have a lot to show and a lot to offer. I want them to remember me for my ability to finesse my way through the fights with beauty, with a vicious beauty, that is something only I could do. I want people to remember me as one of the pioneers for women’s MMA, and as someone who embraced obstacles and challenges.”
The documentary released by the UFC was titled ‘Fight Mom,’ and it fits quite well. But when it is all said and done, Michelle Waterson would like to be known as ‘Fighting Mom Champion’ and as an inspiration to all parents, and to her daughter who will be with her every step of the way.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/9/2019