In what will no doubt come as disappointing news to Paige VanZant, who was hoping to capitalize on a strawweight opportunity later this year, it seems top ranked 115-pound contender, Michelle Waterson, is moving forward with her UFC Fight Night 161 main event this weekend on ESPN+ in Tampa, Florida.
And because the “Karate Hottie” would not be pressured into taking a catch-weight fight, opponent Joanna Jedrzejczyk will be forced to attempt another “scary weight cut,” a situation that has left Waterson feeling both distracted and disheartened.
“I heard that Joanna was having trouble making weight and that she wanted to renegotiate the contract at 120 [pounds],” Waterson told MMA Fighting. “I took this fight under the assumption that we were both in contention for the strawweight belt, and to me, that’s a very serious undertaking. There’s only a couple things you have to do as a fighter, and one of them is make weight. My intention is to fight for the strawweight belt—not for the flyweight belt, not for the featherweight belt. The 115 belt.”
The winner of this fight, assuming it goes off without a hitch — or a fatality — is expected to move on to challenge reigning women’s strawweight champion Weili Zhang, who captured the crown with a first-round destruction of Jessica Andrade back in August.
A bout that will not afford the one-pound allowance exclusive to non-title fights.
“She’s made the weight plenty of times,” Waterson continued. “She’s fought at strawweight more than she’s fought at any other weight in the UFC. I don’t see how this would be any different. We’ve both known about this fight for quite some time, so that’s the most disheartening part of it all. I took this fight so I could fight Weili [Zhang] next—not [Valentina] Shevchenko.”
Despite today’s weight-cutting headlines, Jedrzejczyk can’t seem to figure out what all the fuss is about. By her estimation, any talk of coming in heavy is premature, as the UFC Tampa weigh-ins are scheduled for Friday morning, giving her plenty of time to shed the excess pounds.
“Did I miss something? Did I miss the weigh-ins today or what? Because the weigh-ins are on Friday,” Jedrzejczyk told her Instagram followers. “I don’t know what’s going on, the weigh-ins are [Friday] and you’re all worried. The fight is on, the weigh-ins are on Friday. Keep it calm, guys. All fine, step-by-step. I will see you there.”
I think she did miss something, like this report claiming she informed UFC of her inability to make weight as early as last week. Perhaps it was an attempt to skip the brutal weight cut by getting Waterson to grant leniency, but “Karate Hottie” wasn’t taking the bait.
Friday morning is going to be very, very interesting.