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28th Dec 2016

Michelle Waterson reveals the most unexpected result of her win over Paige VanZant

Bonus territory.

Patrick McCarry

“I stayed in the shadows. I kept grinding and it has paid off.”

Michelle Waterson may finally be set for a shot at the big time, nine years after her MMA debut.

The ‘Karate Hottie’ was out of action for almost 18 months before taking on Paige VanZant at UFC Sacramento.

Waterson had previously been slated to fight Irish straw-weight Aisling Daly at UFC Hamburg but injury prevented that from happening.

VanZant made short work of Bec Rawlings on her own comeback to the sport – after a Dancing With The Stars hiatus – and was handed a genuine test in Waterson.

The 30-year-old may have been convivial with PVZ in the lead-up to the fight but she did back up comments that her opponent was “green” and still had much to learn. During their main event bout, Waterson switched up her stance to confuse VanZant and finished off with a rear naked choke in the first round.

In an interview on The MMA Hour, Waterson reflected on a fight that has put her close to a title shot against the all-conquering Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

The No.7 ranked straw-weight also noticed a welcome surprise in the days after her victory. She said:

“My Instagram jumped up by 50,000 followers and I’m getting lots of love from everybody. I’ve got nothing but love from people out there.”

With 2.1m people tuning in to see Waterson headline UFC Sacramento, it is amazing to see what some exposure can do for you.

A bout against one of Claudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz or Carla Esparza may yet put her in the title picture.