Despite the fact that Michelle Waterson is busy kicking ass in the ring and out of it, we managed to speak with the mother and fighter about juggling both roles.
How did your nickname “The Karate Hottie” come about?
I got the nickname during a stint as a waitress. A colleague found out that I did karate growing up and also had a career in modeling. They put it together and started calling me “The Karate Hottie”. It has stuck with me ever since.
Describe a day in the life of you.
It used to be all training but since Araya arrived, a day in my life is now split into training and family time. I wake up for a morning pro class mixed with MMA sparring for one to two hours and then send Araya to school. After that, I’ll do a strength and conditioning session for an hour, keeping it short. I then pick Araya up from school and send her for her training before doing some shadow boxing and jumping ropes myself. A day in my life is split evenly between family and MMA.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I would say bullies – I dislike bullies.
How do you spend your weekend afternoon?
That really depends, if there’s a fight coming up or not. But on normal weekend afternoons, you can catch me chilling with Araya and my husband watching one of our favourite TV shows. And of course, I have pizzas and coke when I crave for them. I have them but train harder to burn them off. Weekends are good because weekends are for cheat meals.
What’s your favourite thing about being an MMA fighter for UFC?
Being an MMA fighter for UFC has made me a fiercely competitive person as well, as you are constantly training to be better than who you were the previous day, because the quality of challengers are that much tougher. I believe that everything that I have learnt being an MMA fighter for UFC, are lessons which I could apply it in life. And of course, juggling the roles of being a mother and a fighter, it teaches me to manage multiple trainings and responsibilities. It betters me as a person, let alone as a mother or a fighter.
What’s the one thing people least expect about you being an MMA fighter?
For me to let Araya watch my fights – I don’t think it is something that most parents are fond of. However, I ensure that Araya is there every time I fight. I strongly believe that martial arts can teach Araya life lessons, and that is what I am trying to teach Araya at a young age. I want to get rid of the stereotypes of fighting – that it is barbaric and too violent.
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What is your signature move?
What is the first thing you do after getting out of a match?
I give Araya the biggest hug – that’s the first thing I do after getting out of a match. I have blended my family life with my career because I believe that is imperative. I need not think about what’s happening at home when my whole family is there cheering me on. Hence, I ensure that my daughter, Araya is there every time I fight. She hasn’t missed a fight yet.
Best advice anyone has ever given you?
To fight for what I believe in, no matter what the obstacles are – this is something that I have translated to my fighting career as well. I have had several obstacles befalling in front of me, but I have continued to fight harder each time I get knocked down. Some people told me that I’d be finished after motherhood – but here I am, thanks to the immense support from my family because I fought for what I believed in.
To date, what do you consider your biggest achievement?
It’s a toss-up between winning the Atomweight Championship and of course victory against Paige VanZant in a UFC main event. Beating somebody that has made a name for herself is a huge feat for me so I cannot really choose one. I have had a lot of good fights.
Follow Michelle’s fighting and fitness journey on Instagram: @karatehottiemma