Top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight contenders Michelle Waterson (No. 8) and Felice Herrig (No. 9) kicked off UFC 229’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card tonight (Sat., Oct. 6, 2018) from inside the sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Waterson was looking to put together back-to-back wins inside the Octagon and get back into the title chase, while Herrig was eager to bounce back from a tough loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz earlier this year.
In the end, though, only one of them could leave “Sin City” victorious this evening. And it was Waterson who ultimately had her hand raised after 15 minutes of back-and-forth action.
Herrig came out of her corner looking to push the pace, but she was quickly slowed thanks to a head kick to the face from Waterson. Herrig continued to push the pace, pumping jabs and such, while Waterson used her legs — side kicks and hide kicks — to keep Herrig at bay. Herrig continued her chase and finally was able to connect with a hard shot and lock up with Waterson along the cage around the two-minute mark of the opening round. Herrig pressed Waterson up against the cage and angled for a body lock / trip takedown, but “Karate Hottie” defended well and the round came to a close.
The two immediately clinched to open the second stanza, trading sharp knees to the body before returning to the center of the cage. While jockeying for position along the cage, Waterson was able to land a nice knee and short elbow, but neither seemed to faze the physically larger Herrig. Waterson was able to break free and land a nice elbow, which she followed with a kick to the face that finally appeared to stun Herrig. Waterson didn’t give Herrig any time to recover, securing a takedown courtesy of a fancy hip toss and landing on top on Herrig where she was able to unleash some solid ground-and-pound. Herrig defended well as Waterson inched her closer to the bottom of the cage where she could reign down more damage until the round ended.
It was anyone’s fight to win heading into the third and final frame, with Herrig scoring first blood with a takedown reversal less than one minute into the round. But, it was actually Waterson who did most of the damage, drilling Herrig with sharp elbows off her back. Waterson wiggled her way into an omoplata attempt, but she was unable to secure the submission. After a lull in the action, the referee stood them up, where Herrig once again tried to use her size and strength to bully Waterson back down to the ground, but was once again unsuccessful. Waterson landed a clean front kick to the face, but Herrig walked right through it. Waterson landed some nice knees and elbows in the clinch down the stretch in a very, very close and competitive bout.
But, not at all that close for the ringside judges, who awarded Waterson a unanimous decision with scores of 30-26, 29-28 and 30-27. She definitely out-worked Herrig, especially off her back and in the clinch with elbows.
Waterson revealed in her post-fight interview that her goal was to be the first-ever mother to become a UFC champion, as well as get a career going in Hollywood on the Silver Screen. It seems like those two things often go hand-in-hand.
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