"The Karate Hottie" Michelle Waterson


We were incredibly honored to meet the one and only "Karate Hottie" Michelle Waterson at MASS'18. She was thrilled to hear what we're doing with our registered non-profit, the Budo Youth Fund, and introduced us to another group which we are hoping to collaborate with to help underprivileged youth gain access to martial arts.

Michelle Waterson is a black belt in American Freestyle Karate and has also trained in WuShu, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and wrestling.

It was February 16, 2007 when Michelle Waterson made her MMA debut at the Ring of Fire against Freestyle Cage Fighting champion, Andrea Miller. She won the match via unanimous decision and went on to appear in several other fights. As per her Wikipedia page, some of the highlights include the following:

  • Waterson made her Strikeforce debut against Tyra Parker at Strikeforce: Payback on October 3, 2008. She won the fight by rear naked choke submission in the first round

  • Waterson faced Karina Taylor at Duke City MMA Series 1 on March 1, 2009. She won the fight by armbar submission in the first round. There was some controversy with this fight because Taylor did not tap out to the armbar

  • On April 11, 2009, Waterson fought former WIBA and IFBA Flyweight Boxing Champion Elena Reid at Apache Gold: Extreme Beatdown. Reid won the fight by TKO in the second round

  • Waterson faced the debuting Rosary Califano at EB - Beatdown at 4 Bears 6 and won by submission due to a flying armbar in just 15 seconds

  • She faced Masako Yoshida at Crowbar MMA: Spring Brawl on April 24, 2010. Waterson won the fight by TKO in the first round

  • Waterson returned to MMA on January 21, 2012. She faced Diana Rael at Jackson's MMA Series 7 and won the fight by rear-naked choke in the first round

  • Waterson then signed a contract with Invicta FC and debut in a match against Lacey Schuckmanin 2012. She defeated Jessica Penne in April 2013 via amber submission to win the Invicta FC Atomweight Championship

  • She also won the title defense match against Yasuko Tamada at Invicta FC 8 on September 6, 2014

On April 28, 2015, she signed a contract with UFC in the strawweight division and made her debut against Angela Magana. She also competed against Rose Namajunas but lost the match. In her recent match in April, she defeated Cortney Casey.

Now, Michelle is hard at work preparing for her fight against Felice Herrig at UFC 229 on Oct 6th. Waterson (15-6) and Herrig (14-7) are the No. 7 and No. 8 ranked fighters, respectively, in the UFC’s current strawweight rankings. It’s going to be a great bout, and it is obvious who we’ll be rooting for! Be sure to tune in :)


This month, Michelle Waterson shares one of her favorite moves, which we've dubbed