September 12, 2007

by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At this Saturday’s Ring of Fire 30 event in Broomfield, Colo., you may recognize up and coming female fighter Michelle Waterson, even if you don’t recognize her name.

Waterson, currently 1-1 in MMA competition, is well known for her stint on the Oxygen Channel’s “Fightgirls” television series, the same show that fellow female MMA fighter Gina Carano mentored on. Michelle has also garnered a lot of attention for her modeling career.

But, if you were to think those forms of exposure define Michelle, you’d be sorely mistaken. Waterson is a serious athlete and has taken steps over this past year to become a truly complete fighter with the help of one of MMA’s elite trainers, Greg Jackson.

Working under Jackson’s tutelage, Michelle looks to take a step towards further cementing herself as someone to watch for in the women’s 115-pound division, as she steps up to take on undefeated Jaime Cook in one of Ring of Fire 30’s feature bouts.

“I feel real great,” exclaimed Waterson heading into Saturday’s match-up. “I’m confident. It should be a good fight. I know the girl is tough, but so am I.”

Michelle continued, “I’ve been training everything, twice a day, working a lot of my ground game because that was one of the things I had been lacking, and making sure my cardio is up.”

Waterson knows that she has to work hard if she stands of chance of toppling Jaime Cook, who looks to possibly be Michelle’s biggest test to date.

“I know she’s going to be a tough opponent and I won’t underestimate her,” commented Waterson. “I know she’s a heavy hitter, but that’s fine, I have a pretty strong jaw and I’m a heavy hitter too.

“I’m going to roll with the punches and I’ve been training a lot on my ground defense, so if she takes me to the ground, fine, but if we stand up, it’s going to be a brawl.”

If Waterson seems cocky, she doesn’t mean to. In reality, her confidence is the result of having moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to work with Greg Jackson and his team of elite fighters.

“I believe it’s the greatest place to train in the world,” said Michelle. “It’s like family and, Coach Jackson, he’s like a dad to me, he’s like a General and we’re like the soldiers. He knows what’s best for everybody on the team.”

Not only has Jackson’s impact been noticeable on Waterson, many of her fellow teammates have also had a positive influence on her.

“It’s the coolest thing in the world, because you watch these guys on TV and you want to be like that. So it’s cool, you get to see them in the gym, busting their asses,” stated Michelle. “We all sweat together, all bleed together, and I think what’s cool about it, is that the vets see us and they want us to be just as good, if not better, than them in the future.”

One teammate in particular has become an especially important part of Waterson’s training.

“Jules [Julie Kedzie] has definitely been a strong point in my training,” explained Michelle. “She motivates me, pushes me. Like, she just won a fight on Bodog and I’m so proud of her for winning – she motivates me.”

As Waterson and her teammate Julie Kedzie knows, female MMA – while quickly becoming one of the fastest growing aspects of our sport – still comes under criticism for the way it has been marketed by some, as surface over substance, when it comes to some of its athletes.

When asked if she feels any negativity due to her exposure on reality television or due to her modeling career, Michelle is quick to point out that she is who she is, and if others can’t accept it, it’s their loss.

“People can go ahead and judge and do what they want to do, and it’s going to be there, but to me, it’s like, I’m a fighter before I’m anything else,” retorts Waterson. “I think you have to have that mentally when you go into the ring or you’re going to get your ass whooped.”

Michelle added, “I’ve dealt with that all my life, and that’s fine, because my fighting isn’t for anyone else, if anything it’s for me. It’s something for me to prove to myself that I am a strong individual.”

As Waterson stated in conclusion, she intends to put on a show and steal the men’s thunder this Saturday night in Broomfield, and prove that she’s not just a pretty face, but a force to be reckoned with in women’s MMA.

“I want to thank my biggest sponsor, Knockouts Barbershop for Men; my coach, Greg Jackson and Jules for being there for me,” closed out Michelle.

“I’m sure me and Jaime Cook are going to make it the fight of the night, because everybody says when they fight that they’re going to take it slow the first round, but I think one thing about female fighters is that they just don’t care. They just go out and put it all on the line from jump.”