Considering not that many fighters can make it out of three-fight skids with their UFC roster spots intact, that’s not exactly a comfortable position. But Waterson (15-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who outpointed Casey (7-6 MMA, 3-5 UFC) in a razor-thin split decision, was determined to not let that get in the way of her performance on Saturday.
“If I allowed it to be a do-or-die (situation), I wouldn’t be able to go in there and be myself,” Waterson said after the FOX-televised main-card battle at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., near Phoenix. “Because when say ‘do or die,’ that puts a lot of pressure on yourself. And it’s unnecessary pressure. You want to be able to go in there and just flow. And be in the moment.
“If you go into a fight thinking, ‘I have to, I have to, I have to,’ you do it for the wrong reasons. You don’t do it because you want to. At the end of the day, it’s a competition. It’s like, ‘I want to win.’ It’s not because you have to. You want to.”
As a result, we got treated to a gritty, dynamic three-round battle in which Waterson repeatedly had to dig deep. It was one that left marks, too, as Waterson – and her swollen, purple left ear – will tell you. It wasn’t easy. But, for Waterson, it was also “really fun.”
“I kept having to tell myself, ‘Michelle, you fight because you love to do it. Don’t make this a chore. Don’t make this something you have to do,’” Waterson said. “I was talking to my husband about it, like, how cool is it going to be when I’m 70 years old and I’m talking to my grandchildren, telling them, ‘You know when I was your age, I used to beat people up for a living.’ They’ll be like, ‘Yeah right, Grandma.’
“And I’m going to whip out the DVDs, and they’re going to be like, ‘What’s a DVD?’ It really is cool. Who else can say that? This is my life. I get to be a martial artists and compete in front of millions of people, and learn and grow from it.”
Waterson had talked a lot about adaptation before. Fighting, she pondered, was all about being able to deal with the ever-changing scenarios that were bound to come in encounters between ever-changing athletes. Saturday was no exception. As prepared as she was for a few of Casey’s traits, including her heavy shots, there were still surprises in her opponent, such as her very good hip movement.
That led to what seemed like a tricky spot for Waterson late in the third round, when Casey managed to break Waterson’s grip and extend her arm in one of her various armbar attempts.
As for how close that one actually was?
“My arm was just centimeters off from it being tight enough to hit an armbar,” Waterson said. “So I knew that all I had to do was to keep top position and she wouldn’t be able to secure that arm.”
Waterson also had to deal with a factor that became glaringly apparent as the two stood next to each other: Casey’s size. Casey, herself, had talked about that during fight week: As one of the tallest members of the UFC’s 115-roster, she was used to dealing with shorter opponents, but she didn’t necessarily see that as an advantage.
Waterson is on the same page as her opponent. Used to sparring with larger fighters, such as friend and former 135-pound UFC champ Holly Holm, she made a conscious decision not to let Casey’s lankier, rangier frame intimidate her.
“I told myself at the beginning of fight camp that the size wasn’t going to make a difference,” Waterson said. “At the end of the day, we both weigh in at 115 pounds. That’s the only requirement. Whatever happens outside of that – we’re all built differently.
“Just because she’s taller doesn’t mean that’s an advantage to her. I have lower hips, and I’ve got big legs an obviously it helped me with the takedowns tonight, so who had the advantage? It’s really up to you how you decide to take other people’s strengths.”
They say few things can help two people bond quite like beating each other up in a cage. That seems to hold true here, at least for Waterson.
“It was really a fun fight,” Waterson said. “I really enjoyed fighting her. I love her spirit, her character and just her sportsmanship is amazing.”
To hear more from Waterson, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Michelle Waterson can't wait to whip out UFC DVDs for her grandchildren