Top ten ranked women's straweights Michelle Waterson and Felice Herrig kicked off the UFC 229 main card on Saturday and entertained the crowd inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a competitive fight.
Herrig, ranked No. 9, pressed forward from the sound of the opening bell and pressured the No. 8 ranked Waterson. Waterson moved laterally and used side kicks to keep Herrig on the outside. After absorbing two head kicks, Herrig closed the distance with a combination and initiated the clinch. Both delivered knees to the body but the strike the stood out was an elbow on the inside by Waterson.
In the second frame, it was Waterson that initiated the clinch. They quickly separated after exchanging knees to the body. Once at distance, Waterson landed a combination and tossed Herrig to the canvas. She delivered short elbows and punches for the remainder of the round.
Waterson looked for a takedown early in the final round but ended up beneath Herrig on the ground. She landed a series of elbows from the bottom before the referee stood them up. The two battled in side the clinch as they did in the first two rounds. They separated and Waterson landed a front kick to the face of Herrig. Waterson outworked Herrig on her way to a unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 30-26, 29-28, and 30-27.
After the fight, Waterson stated her intentions of making UFC history by becoming the mother to hold a UFC title.
"I listen to you guys talk about who should be in contention for that belt, and it disappoints me that I'm not in that talk so I wanted to come here tonight and show that I'm a well-rounded mixed martial artist," said waterson following the win.
"I have two goals. I want to be a superhero in the cage. I want to be a superstar on the big screen. I want to be the first UFC champ that's a mom."
Waterson didn't call out any specific opponent in her post-fight interview. Instead, "The Karate Hottie" was just thankful to have been able to show her ability inside the cage.
"I'm just excited. I'm excited that I'm able to start utilizing the things I've learned at practice under these bright lights," she said.
The win over Herrig was Waterson second consecutive victory. For Herrig, the loss was her second in a row.