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‘Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson uses ground game to submit Angela Magana

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Michelle Waterson may go by the nickname “The Karate Hottie” but she fought more like a monster on Sunday night at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Michelle Waterson submitted Angela Magana in her UFC debut. (Photo courtesy of Invicta FC.)

It certainly was not the karate-based attack that fans have become accustomed to from the former Invicta FC atomweight champ, but her UFC debut was a fine display of ground dominance.

And, of course, there was some flash, too.

After battling off a deep armbar attempt from opponent Angela Magana, Waterson rallied to gain momentum during the final seconds of the opening frame with a wicked armbar of her own. Magana escaped the round, but just barely.

The rest of the fight was just a formality.

Sensing momentum in her favor, Waterson opened the second round with an array of side kicks and knees from the clinch. To her credit, Magana actually managed a snappy takedown midway through the round, but Waterson, and her Jackson-WInklejohn honed ground attack, quickly transitioned to full mount and began pummeling away on Magana.

At the conclusion of the second round, Magana once again found herself in a deep armbar attempt but managed to survive once again.

The third round was the charm for Waterson, as she finally put Magana away. The opening seconds featured a brutal front kick to the face of Magana. Waterson snatched a body lock soon after, took her opponent’s back, and whipped her to the ground with an authoritative slam.

Waterson landed almost immediately back in control. She reached her forearm under Magana’s chin, squeezed, and the former TUF contestant tapped to Waterson’s rear-naked choke at 2:38 of the third round.

“Martial arts isn’t just a sport, it’s a way of life,” said a teary-eyed Waterson. “If you do it right, you can conquer your biggest fears.”

Waterson was then asked about the armbar attempt from Magana that had Waterson on the verge of tapping early in the first round.

“Yeah, she locked that armbar on and she was pretty adamant about finishing it,” Waterson said. “But it was my UFC debut. I wasn’t going out like that!”

The “Karate Hottie” carries a reputation for being a striker. She was betting on Magana to do her best to bring the fight to the mat. Her team at Jackson-Winklejohn, a world-class gym, focused heavily on a ground-based training camp.

“You know, this camp we’ve just been working a lot of wrestling,” Waterson said. “Changing my mentality from being a defensive grappler to being an offensive grappler, so I was able to put those changes to use tonight.”

Being a UFC newcomer usually carries its fair share of “Octagon jitters.” It’s unavoidable for fighters to ignore at this stage. After all, most of them have spent their entire lives getting to the moment when they have Bruce Buffer announce their names over an arena loudspeaker.

Not Waterson, though.

“No,” she replied when asked if she felt the moment.

“This is home.”

It is now.


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