Sports Illustrated caught up with Michelle "Karate Hottie" Waterson, ahead of her headlining fight with Jessica Penne at Invicta FC 5: Penne vs. Waterson, live via online PPV on 5 April 2013.
Sports Illustrated: The marketing of female athletes is always tricky, especially when it comes to appearance. With your background as a model and nickname as the "Karate Hottie," how do you want to be marketed as an athlete?
Michelle Waterson: People are going to see me however they want to see me. Obviously, sex sells and whatnot. Part of that, as far as my image, was me. When I was first getting into it, I was working at Hooters and I was doing bikini competitions, photo shoots for calendars, and this and that. But it's not necessarily who I am now. If people want to view me as that and label me as that, that's perfectly fine. Because if that's going to get me in the door so people can actually see how skilled I am as an athlete, that's fine. I'll play the game. To me, people are going to judge you no matter what, no matter how you put yourself out there. In my opinion, they can judge however they want to. Hopefully, it's in a positive light.
SI: You took a brief hiatus from fighting to give birth to your daughter, Araya, who just turned two. How has motherhood changed you as a fighter?
MW: Once I had my daughter, it heightened my sense of reality ... It makes you really question, is this something I should be doing with my life and for my daughter? Will my daughter look up to me because of it? It's made me more passionate about [fighting] and it's made me more driven because I want to show my daughter that you can go after your dreams and still be a good mother. Anything is possible. If I can show that to her, and just set an example with what I'm doing with my life, that would be the best teacher to her.