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Michelle Waterson reveals why she retired at UFC 303

LockerRoom Team
Calendar Icon09 July 2024

At UFC 303, Michelle Waterson-Gomez, affectionately known as “The Karate Hottie,” announced her retirement following a loss to Gillian Robertson, marking the end of an illustrious 17-year career. The announcement was accompanied by a heartfelt tribute video played on the T-Mobile Arena screens, showcasing some of Waterson-Gomez’s most memorable moments in the Octagon.

In a subsequent appearance on The MMA Hour, Waterson-Gomez elaborated on her decision to retire from professional fighting. "I’ve been fighting for over 17 years," Waterson-Gomez shared. "My husband sacrificed a lot for me to fight, including his own fighting career. As long as my daughter has been born, she’s been a gym kid, missing birthdays and events so mommy could train and fight. She’s getting older, and I want to be in her corner and my husband's corner."

Waterson-Gomez’s retirement decision reflects a desire to shift her focus towards her family and support her loved ones in their endeavors. "I’m not getting any younger. As a fighter and competitor, I would continue chasing the wins and the incredible high that comes with victory. But I had to recognize where I was in my MMA career and redirect my efforts towards other areas where I can achieve new victories," she explained.

Prior to her final fight, Waterson-Gomez confided her retirement plans to a select few, including close friend and teammate Holly Holm. She wanted to ensure that her focus remained entirely on preparing for her bout against Robertson, whom she recognized as a formidable opponent. Despite her loss by unanimous decision, Waterson-Gomez has received an outpouring of support and respect from fans and peers alike.

Reflecting on her career, Waterson-Gomez expressed immense gratitude for the journey she embarked upon. "If you had asked me as a little girl what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would never have imagined becoming a professional fighter for the UFC. But that’s where life took me, and I am eternally grateful. The fight game is tough and unforgiving, but it shaped me into who I am today."

While Waterson-Gomez never fought for a title during her UFC tenure, her career was marked by resilience and determination, consistently competing against top-tier opponents. Her professional debut in 2007 came at a time when female fighters had no guarantees of fame or fortune. Nevertheless, she persisted, becoming a mainstay in the UFC and earning a devoted fan base.

"I’m most proud of believing in myself enough to try, setting lofty goals, and reaching for them," Waterson-Gomez said. "I’m just a karate girl from rural Colorado, but I fought my way to the top and stayed there for a long time. I faced the best in the world and remained in the top 10 for most of my career. I’m proud of that."

ALSO READ | Michelle Waterson-Gomez Announces Retirement After UFC 303

Michelle Waterson-Gomez leaves behind a legacy of perseverance and passion, inspiring future generations of fighters. Her contributions to the sport of MMA and her influence as a trailblazer for women in combat sports will be remembered for years to come.

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