Top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight contenders Tecia Torres (No. 5) and Michelle Waterson (No. 6) kicked off UFC 218’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card tonight (Sat., Dec. 2, 2017) inside Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Both have lost to reigning division champion, Rose Namajunas, in the past, but tonight was a golden opportunity to earn a rematch sooner than later in 2018.
And it was Torres who was able to come out on top, scoring a unanimous decision win after three rounds of back-and-forth action.
Waterson came out looking to land a left high kick early, but Torres barreled right through it with a barrage of punches that had “Karate Hottie” backpedaling. In the chaos, Waterson was able to get Torres on her back and attempt a rear-naked choke, but “Tiny Tornado” quickly escaped the position, landing a solid combination moments after the break. Torres fired away with stiff jabs, then several solid knees to the body once she was able to get her into a Muay Thai clinch. Torres eventually mashed her up against the fence and softened up Waterson with some dirty boxing until she was finally able to break free. Both ladies slowed down a bit with one minute remaining in the round after setting a furious early pace, but it was Torres who seemed to get the better of exchanges.
Waterson appeared to be the more tired fighter between rounds, taking deep breaths while on her stool. Torres, meanwhile, continued to push the pace, but Waterson slowed her down momentarily with a hard knee to the face. Waterson then landed a nice takedown, but she was unable to do much inside Torres’ half guard. Torres angled for a kimura while on her back, but it didn’t materialize. Waterson continued to ride Torres for a majority of the round, but could not get anything going. Torres threw up her legs for a triangle choke, but Waterson was able to defend — Torres’ legs seemed a bit too short to pull it off correctly. Torres transitioned to an armbar, but as ringside announcer Joe Rogan pointed out, it was done incorrectly and the round came to a close.
With the fight likely even heading into the third and final frame, the fight was seemingly up for grabs. And for the first half of the round, they both stood in the center of the Octagon and traded leather. Waterson’s left eye began to close shut as a result as Torres continued to be the aggressor. Waterson fell during an exchange and Torres pounced on her, taking her back and sinking in her hooks. She was able to flatten out Waterson and drill her with elbows from behind as “Karate Hottie” covered up her face. Waterson was able to reverse the position at the last minute, but was unable to do anything as the round came to a close.
It was a competitive fight — both fighters matched up well with each other. But, in the end, Torres was able to push through to the finish line and score an impressive decision win over a very game opponent. She will likely have to get in line behind Joanna Jedrzejczyk for a title shot, but she is in great position heading into the New Year.
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