Nine months before giving birth to her daughter, Michelle Waterson earned her living as a fighter. Nine months after Araya was born, Waterson returned to the cage, at Jackson's Series VII Saturday night. She returned in style, avenging Albuquerque's honor against Diana Rael, who last year upset local favorite Angelica Chavez.
Midway through an exciting, back and forth first round, Waterson found herself in the same position that Chavez spent most of her fight with Rael - getting smothered by Rael's top control. In the blink of an eye she dug out a sweep and slipped around to Rael's back, sinking in a rear naked choke before, as my video replay unfortunately reveals, the referee rear-ended my view of Rael tapping.
Still, it was Waterson's brilliant reversal to the back that mattered. So go ahead and enjoy it.
It's worth noting that of Waterson's 10 pro wins, all but her first came via first round stoppage: four by armbar, four by rear naked choke, and one by TKO. Too bad the nickname "Natural Born Killer" is already taken by her teammate Carlos Condit. But we can live with "Karate Hottie."
In another high level submission, Team Jackson's Henry Martinez submitted Ali Hanjani by an unusual triangle choke, after Hanjani almost shook him off his back. The announcer called it an inverted triangle. If you were at the event, feel free to comment as to what you would call it. I'm sorry I don't have the video. When I should have been videoing I was too busy saying "What the BLEEP?" It was like Martinez was sitting on Hanjani's shoulders, and then decided to switch to cross legged and strangle him. It was so beautiful I all but cried.
Ahead of the January 21 Jackson’s MMA Series VII fight card, a press conference was held earlier this week. Though it was set up to hype some fights, the event showed all of the bad blood and barely contained aggression of a quilting party. Headliner Diana Rael made the trip down from Denver to square off against Albuquerque’s Michelle Waterson, but spent more time coo-cooing with her opponent’s baby daughter than mean mugging in her face.
Co-main event fighters, Albuquerque’s Henry Martinez (6-1) and Denver’s Ali Hanjani (3-1), were equally cordial, thanking each other for taking the fight and offering quiet praise for one another. This is how martial arts competitions should be, but all to often in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, the tradition of respect is upstaged by a cafeteria brawl mentality.
It isn’t that these fighters don’t plan on putting a hurting on each other when the cage door locks on January 21. But until then, and presumably afterwards, these athletes don’t bear a grudge against each other. Indeed, they need each other in order to be able to compete at this sport they love.
The Alibi caught up with both Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson and Diana “Dianomite” Rael after the presser. Rael is coming off her upset victory over Albuquerque’s hometown favorite Angelica Chavez at MMA Fight Pit - Genesis this past August. This is Waterson’s first fight since her daughter Araya was born last March.
The Jackson’s MMA Series VII fight card goes down at the Hard Rock Café on January 21 at 7 pm.