While Michelle Waterson hasn't been the most active fighter in female MMA, she's more than ready to step back into the cage this weekend and prove herself.
"The Karate Hottie" is known nearly as much for her stunning looks as her skills in the cage, but don't forget that she trains with some of the best fighters in the world alongside the big boys at Greg Jackson's in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
After only fighting once in the past two and a half years, Waterson will be making her debut with Invicta Fighting Championships this weekend (Oct. 6, 2012), when she battles scrappy atomweight Lacey Schuckman on the preliminary card of Invicta FC 3: Penne vs Sugiyama in Kansas City, Kansas.
Waterson spoke to MMAmania.com during a special guest appearance on The Verbal Submission this past weekend about getting Jon Jones to parade around in a ring girl outfit, her extended time off and shaking off the ring rust in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I have to start with this. How much convincing did it take to get UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones to dress up as a ring girl for your Invicta promo?
Michelle Waterson: (laughs) Well, when I brought the idea up to him, he immediately starting laughing, said it was hilarious. He was like, "Yeah, sure peanut, anything for a teammate." So it didn't take too much convincing.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It seems like they really have your back in the gym. It must be nice to have so much support from the big-time fighters who train there.
Michelle Waterson: I love my teammates. They're always there to support me and we're like family. Like I said. Whatever they can do to help out, us girls on the team are there for them too.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You haven't been very active lately. You had the fight this past January but before that, you hadn't fought since April of 2010. Can you tell me about what went into that extended break?
Michelle Waterson: Well I was pregnant (laughs). That had a lot to do with it and then after that it took me a while to get back into shape. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I got up to 170 pounds and after that, I found out I had some thyroid problems after having my daughter so I had to regulate that. Once I got everything calmed down, I was able to get back to training and get back to the gym. Then, I took a little bit more time off because I was getting married and I was planning that all on my own and it was really time consuming. When I fight, I want to be able to dedicate all my time and efforts into it and I don't want to fight just to fight. I want to be able to be able to make a good effort in the camp.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): At 26 years old, you've still got a lot of time to showcase your skills in the women's division. Moving forward now, this is your first fight with Invicta. What have you thought about their first two shows so far and how they've treated the ladies compared to all the other shows you've competed in throughout your career?
Michelle Waterson: I think Invicta is an awesome show and I'm glad they're doing well and proving that an All-female card can be successful. I'm very thankful to represent Invicta in the next fight card and hopefully in the future maybe for a title.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of titles, they've got your weight class featured in the main event of this show for the title. Are you going to be paying close attention to the Jessica Penne vs. Sugiyama fight in the main event?
Michelle Waterson: Oh yeah, I'm totally excited to watch that fight but first thing's first, I've got to go out and take care of business in my fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Agreed. Lacey Schuckman is no joke. She had a hard-fought bout against Ayaka Yamasaki in her last fight on Invicta 2 and almost went the whole distance until right there at the end, losing via armbar with 15 seconds to go. Was there anything you can from that performance seeing Schuckman getting outgrappled for three rounds?
Michelle Waterson: Yeah, just a little bit. Of course any time you watch fight tape, there's some little things you can take here and there. Kudos to Lacey for taking that fight at the last minute and showcasing her fighting spirit. It's exciting for me, being able to fight her with a full training camp and get out there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After your extended break, you came back and won via first round submission earlier this year. How were you able to shake off the ring rust and put on such a good performance? Was it a training thing, a mindset thing?
Michelle Waterson: I think it's instincts. It's like riding a bike. You never forget once you learn but I have to be honest with you, I did forget a bit what it felt like to get hit and she cracked me a bit right at the beginning of the round. I was like, "Whoa! Now we're in a fight!" It kind of woke me up. (laughs)
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What would a perfect victory mean for you against Lacey Schuckman?
Michelle Waterson: A knockout. I'd love to have a KO on my record.
You can follow Michelle on Twitter @KarateHottieMMA.
To listen to the complete audio of our conversation with Michelle Waterson, click here (interview begins at the 7:00 mark)