Michelle Waterson has not competed inside the Octagon this year, but the battle has raged on behind the scenes. Waterson bounces back from the second-longest lay-off of her UFC career to fight Amanda Lemos in the co-main event of UFC Long Island on Saturday.
Waterson (18-9) withdrew from a fight against Lemos in March because of an injury. “The Karate Hottie” described the injury as “career ending” if not addressed, leading to 14 months without competition.
“It did suck. It’s heartbreaking. In fight camp, there are going to be injuries that you can work through and there are going to be some that you can’t. Anybody that I have ever known to be a real fighter will try and fight through injuries,” Waterson told CBS Sports. “This one wasn’t going away and it was getting worse. I had to make a decision. I have been fighting professionally for over 15 years now. I had to make a decision. Was I going to wreck my body and let my last couple of fights take a toll on me because I want to fight on a certain day? Or am I going to let my body heal and come out guns blazing and do what I want to do?
“I’m good. I don’t think I would take the fight unless I was. I never want to go into a fight camp with something that might be an excuse for why I didn’t win. There should never be any excuses. I should be able to go in there and rock it.”
Check out the full interview with Michelle Waterson below.
Waterson also touched on the retirement of her past opponent and former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Waterson applauded the former UFC women’s strawweight champion for exploring other endeavors and opened up MMA’s immense physical and emotional baggage.
“I think it’s really hard for a professional fighter to be in the game as long as we have to step away,” Waterson said. “It becomes a part of who you are and I think it’s a very courageous move on her part to know when it’s [time] to walk away. By no means do I think she emptied the gas tank. She probably has more in her if she still wanted to continue to fight. I think in these last couple of years she’s been exposed to a whole new world of opportunity. I think it is very dangerous for a fighter to continue to fight when they’re not in it. When their passion isn’t in it. I think she’s very passionate about MMA [and] the world of fighting, but she’s also passionate about a lot of other things. She said she wants to be a mother and a businesswoman and I’ll never knock her for going after those things. The world is abundant and she has all these opportunities available to her.”
Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez anchors UFC Long Island on Saturday afternoon from the UBS Arena.