Emotional Michelle Waterson: UFC on ESPN+ 19 loss was needed, hardest part 'letting down' fans

TAMPA, Fla. – Despite putting on a gutsy showing at UFC on ESPN+ 19, Michelle Waterson can’t help but think she let the fans down on fight night.

UFC on ESPN+ 19 took place Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. The card streamed on ESPN+.

Waterson (17-6 MMA, 5-2 UFC) endured five rounds with former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) and didn’t fold when adversity struck. As she battled through a busted nose, Waterson seemingly gave the performance the fullest of efforts.

Still taking time to speak with reporters gathered backstage Saturday night, an emotional Waterson gave her thoughts on the performance and where she goes from there.

Unsurprisingly, Waterson didn’t enter Saturday’s fight with the intention of walking away without her win bonus. Having so many fans cheer her on in a losing effort, Waterson is motivated to keep pushing towards to belt. Conversely, she feels bad “letting down” her supporters.

“I don’t think that anybody steps into the octagon with the idea of losing. Just the fact that the crowd was still cheering and behind me, it fills my heart. It lets me know that I’m on the right track. That’s the fight game and that’s life. You can’t win them all.

“.. The feeling of victory is addicting. The highs are super high and I always say the lows are really low. I think the hardest part is letting down all my coaches and fans because of all the time they put into me.”

In retrospect, Waterson wishes she had attacked with her takedowns differently. She said her inability to get the fight to the canvas played a major factor in her lack of success.

“I think the biggest thing was I was impatient,” Waterson said. “We had 25 minutes to get it done. I was comfortable on the outside and I should have stayed there a little bit longer for her to give me the takedown.

“Instead, I reached for it and we ended up in the clinch up against the cage more often than I would have liked. That was the determining factor in the fight.”

This isn’t the first time Waterson has experienced a loss. She knows the feeling and has been there twice before in the UFC. “The Karate Hottie” indicated the loss may be necessary for long term results.

“This was what I was focused on and this was what I needed,” Waterson said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason and I needed this to understand how to move forward.”

In case she needed reassurance, former UFC champion and Waterson’s close friend Holly Holm greeted her outside of the cage post-fight. The two embraced, sharing an emotional moment as the fans in attendance straggled out.

Fighting back tears, Waterson shared what the two fighters discussed.

“She just said she knew it wasn’t outcome that I wanted,” Waterson said. “But she just said it was a lot closer than what I probably feel like it is in my heart and that I’m still improving and it’s still a step forward.”

Check out the emotional moment shared between the two JacksonWink fighters in the clip below:

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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