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Shock and Tears: ‘The Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson-Gomez Ends Her Epic UFC Journey

Michelle Waterson-Gomez
Black Belt Plus

Michelle Waterson-Gomez, known affectionately as ‘The Karate Hottie’, bid an emotional farewell to her fighting career on Saturday night, following a unanimous decision defeat to Gillian Robertson during the UFC 303 prelims.

Launching her professional career in February 2007, the 38-year-old retires with a record of 18 wins and 13 losses, including a 6-9 stint in the UFC. These numbers, however, scarcely capture the significant imprint she has left on the sport, her standing within the UFC, and her popularity among fans.

Waterson-Gomez entered MMA when female fighters had to be driven by pure passion, as there was little financial incentive and no major North American promotions dedicated to women’s MMA. Her early career included gritty competitions in notable regional circuits like Ring of Fire in Colorado and King of the Cage.

After racking up a 9-3 record, she joined Invicta FC, an all-female MMA promotion founded by Shannon Knapp, which proved crucial for many fighters, including Waterson-Gomez. She won the atomweight championship by submitting Jessica Penne and successfully defended it, marking her as a formidable competitor before moving to the UFC.

Her UFC tenure began with a victory over Angela Magana and was highlighted by a high-profile submission win against Paige VanZant. Waterson-Gomez faced the elite of the strawweight division, including champions like Rose Namajunas, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Carla Esparza, cementing her reputation as a tough and skilled fighter.

Despite a record that fell short of her ambitions, Waterson-Gomez's list of opponents speaks volumes about her tenure at the top of the UFC’s strawweight division, where she consistently faced and often triumphed against the best.

Beyond her fight record, Waterson-Gomez's undying passion for martial arts and her joy in competition were evident each time she stepped into the Octagon—often exiting bruised yet triumphant, embodying the heart of a true fighter.

Her decade in a higher weight class than ideal—had the UFC established an atomweight division, she would have likely dominated—highlights her adaptability and skill. Remaining a ranked contender for nearly ten years showcases not just her abilities but also her enduring presence as a top fighter in her division.

Waterson-Gomez's legacy extends beyond her fight stats, embodying the spirit of martial arts and competition. As she closes this chapter, the MMA community will surely miss her indomitable spirit, though her impact on the sport will resonate for years to come.

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