Rather than rest on her laurels, Waterson worked hard to improve the weaker areas of her game and now she feels like a superior fighter to whom she was then.
“It’s really allowed me to develop as a fighter and become the type of fighter I want to be,” Waterson told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve added some strength to my arsenal and I’ve been working a lot on my wrestling, so it’s those two things I’m excited to showcase.”
That’s not to say the time Waterson had off was easy.
“Those (negative) thoughts do creep into your head, especially with all the hype around the girls on TUF 20, but I think patience is a virtue and everything happens for a reason,” said Waterson. “I had to believe that Shannon (Knapp, Invicta CEO) had my best interests at hand and just had to be patient.”
When Waterson (11-3) returns to fighting on Sept. 6 in Kansas City, she’ll be taking on one of her most experienced opponents yet in one-time Valkyrie champion Yasuka Tamada (15-8-3).
“I think our styles will make for a really exciting fight,” said Waterson of her bout with Tamada. “She comes forward, she’s a southpaw and has never been finished; so these three things I think will make for a very interesting fight.”
While Tamada has normally fought either shorter or fewer rounds in her fights, Waterson anticipates a tough fight all the way through.
“Especially in MMA, you can never predict what is going to happen, so we prepare for everything,” said Waterson. “We’re ready for a 25-minute war. We’re prepared to see those openings in the second, fourth or fifth round – whenever things fall into place.”
For Waterson, defeating Tamada on Sept. 6 will further validate her place as the top 105-pound fighter in the world.
“For me it will allow me to exhale and feel like I really am the atomweight champion for Invicta because I’ve been able to defend the title,” said Waterson. “For me that’s kind of what I’m looking for right now.”
(Photo courtesy of Esther Lin/Invicta FC)