Michelle Waterson’s explosion onto the UFC scene seemed like just a moment away when she debuted back in July 2015.
The former Invicta FC atomweight champion took out Angela Magana in dominant fashion and announced her arrival in grand fashion. She had the look, the fighting style and that unexplainable star quality wrapped up into one sensational package.
Unfortunately for "The Karate Hottie," the injury bug hit hard, beginning with a broken hand in her debut. When she seemed ready to return later in 2015 she suffered a knee injury. Then Waterson broke her hand just days before her scheduled bout in Germany in 2016.
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But the stars seemed to align late last year when she agreed to face fellow superstar Paige VanZant in December. She took care of her hand and made it to the fight, submitting the "Dancing with the Stars" standout in spectacular fashion.
The momentum is growing now for Waterson, who was featured in a full-length documentary titled "Fight Mom" by Bleacher Report’s Uninterrupted. The film follows Waterson and her family – husband Joshua Gomez and daughter Araya – as they navigate life at home and in the training room.
Waterson is more than just a bad ass fighter inside the Octagon. She is a full-time mother and wife determined to be a star in the sport and at home for her family. Her story caught the eye of reigning NBA champion and Finals MVP LeBron James, demonstrating just how quickly her star is rising.
@karatehottiemma #LoveItandYou https://t.co/Fmtdlw3hgg
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 13, 2017
Waterson’s Invicta championship win over Jessica Penne; her first defense against Yasuko Tamada; her heartbreaking loss to Herica Tiburcio; and her eventual UFC-winning debut against Angela Magana are all covered in detail.
In the background of the fighter’s story is Waterson’s relationship with her coaches at the famed Jackson/Winklejohn gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The film also covers the guilt she felt for getting to live out her fight dream while her husband and fellow fighter had to give up his dream to fight to support the family.
Waterson is now ranked No. 7 in the strawweight division with a potential top five fight next up in 2017. MAXIM wrote after her win over VanZant that she just may be the UFC’s next big thing.
With her injury troubles hopefully behind her and a new division waiting to be conquered, the former champion spoke about her dreams to one day hoist UFC gold during the FOX Sports post fight show in December.
“I don’t have any name in mind but my ultimate goal is to be the UFC champ,” Waterson said.
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC