With the UFC making headlines for its determination to be the first major sports promotion to open back up during the current pandemic, a lot of fans are having trouble understanding why established fighters would want to take part in the card. But for eighth-ranked strawweight Michelle Waterson, the decision to face seventh-ranked Carla Esparza at UFC 249 on Saturday, May 9 made all the sense in the world both as a fighter and a public figure.
“All of the stuff that’s happening right now is so unprecedented and going to go down in history, and I’m just happy to be a part of it and say that I was able to fight during this time,” Waterson tells HUSTLERMagazine.com. “It’s not just about representing myself and my family, but also lifting everyone’s spirits and strengthening our souls. As professional fighters, we’re in the top percentage of the most healthy people in the world because of the nature of what we do. If there’s anyone who should be going out on a limb during a time like this, it’s us, because our immunities are strong. We’re used to adapting and overcoming, so we have to continue to move forward. It’s very symbolic of the human spirit to hunker down and get through adversity so we can come out the other end stronger.”
Of course, the night of the fight isn’t the only challenge that professional mixed martial artists are facing for these upcoming events. Finding a gym, coaches and training partners willing to work during the quarantine is often easier said than done. But the “Karate Hottie” unknowingly prepared years in advance for the situation by building a fully functional gym in her own home so she can have a full training camp regardless of any lockdowns.