Coming into the fight as the No. 9 strawweight contender, Michelle Waterson brought down No. 6 contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz on Saturday at UFC Fight Night in Philadelphia by decision, moving her up in the strawweight rankings.
Wells Fargo Center erupted in roars and chants over Waterson’s victory. She didn’t coy away about her wanting a title shot next after commenting on the Polish’s fighting style.
“Her grabbling is underrated, and I really did want to take it to the ground,” Waterson said. “I wanted to get a finish but she’s such a game player, and exactly what I needed to ask for the gold next.”
Kowalkiewicz came into the match as one of the best strawweight fighters in takedown defense at 83 percent. “Karate Hottie” completed four takedowns out of eight attempts and landed 21 significant strikes on the ground, during the second round.
Waterson made her case about a title shot over Tatiana Suarez and Nina Ansaroff, as the two third-ranked strawweight fighters will face off at UFC 238 on June 8.
“I’ve been in the top 10 longer than both of them have,” Waterson said. “And I’ve fought all the top girls, I think that my chance is next.”
She lost to the current strawweight champion Namajunas back in April 2017, by a rear-naked choke submission in the second round. Waterson seeks for a rematch against Namajunas and for the chance to hold the strawweight golden waistband.
“I would want to run that one back, 100 percent. But you know, it’s a small division,” Waterson said. “We all end up fighting each other.”
Namajunas will take on Jessica Andrade at UFC 237 in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Namajunas vs Andrade bout might shuffle the strawweight division’s top contender pecking order. Meanwhile, Waterson awaits her next opponent.