Michelle Waterson was unsure if there was a spot for her in the UFC after the promotion created a strawweight division.
Waterson, a former Invicta FC atomweight champion, made a triumphant debut inside the Octagon Sunday night at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale, submitting Angela Magana in the third round.
“The Karate Hottie” had to survive an early armbar attempt by Magana, but stated there was no way she was going to submit on this night.
“She was adamant about finishing (the armbar), but this was my UFC debut and I was not going out like that,” an emotional Waterson said. “Martial arts is not just a sport. It is a way of life. If you do it right, you can conquer your biggest fears.
“Thank you (UFC officials) for offering me this opportunity.”
Waterson’s last bout before signing with the promotion was a 2014 submission loss to Herica Tiburcio that snapped a lengthy win streak that included a 2013 submission win over recent UFC title contender Jessica Penne.
“We have been working a lot on wrestling,” she said. “On changing my mentality from a defensive grappler to a more offensive, aggressive wrestler. I was able to put those changes to use.”