Some of the coolest news to break this week, lost in the fracas of the Jon Jones incident and stripping of his title, was that Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson has signed with the UFC. Waterson, the former Invicta FC atomweight champion, will make her debut at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 21 against TUF 20 alum Angela Magana.

With a 12-4 record as a pro and as one of the faces of Invicta for the past couple of years, this is a great move for both Waterson and the UFC. Her profile in the MMA world, and potentially with the mainstream media and casual fans, is about to skyrocket. The question is, will she be able to follow the blueprint laid for UFC success by young Paige VanZant over the past year?

Lets cut to the chase: Waterson is the Karate Hottie for a reason. The UFC knows this. She’s attractive. She’s marketable. And unlike Paige, who had to silence a lot of doubters who dismissed her as just another pretty face, Waterson is a former champ (she lost the title in December at Invicta FC 10, to Herica Tiburcio) with years of experience across multiple promotions including King of the Cage, Strikeforce, and Invicta. At twenty-nine, she’s still in her prime — so can we expect nearly daily updates from FOX Sports, as seems to be the case with Paige?

If the UFC has any clout, hopefully yes. At UFC on Fox 15 earlier this month, VanZant proved just how beloved she is among casual and hardcore fans alike at the moment. The chance for lightening to strike twice isn’t something the promotion should take lightly. In a growing division that is quickly eclipsing the men’s flyweights in popularity (and possibly the bantamweights as well), more recognizable, popular fighters will never hurt.

As for Waterson — take her for her skill level, not her looks. Just know that she may very well be marketed otherwise, and that’s just fine, if she can follow that blueprint to success.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.