It had been over a year since Michelle Waterson appeared in the UFC, but her second fight ended just the same as the first as she made short work of Paige VanZant with a first-round rear naked choke to cap off FOX UFC Fight Night in Sacramento.
Waterson made quite the debut last July with a submission over Angela Magana, but then a series of injuries kept her sidelined for nearly all of 2016 until she finally returned on Saturday night.
Despite the long layoff, Waterson stated numerous times that she didn’t believe in ring rust and that was never more evident than with her quick start against VanZant once the first round got underway.
Following a few exchanges on the feet it was VanZant who locked up in the clinch with Waterson but she may have regretted that decision just a few moments later.
Waterson saw an opening in VanZant’s defense before grabbing her by the head and arm and tossing her to the mat. Before VanZant could scramble, Waterson had already grabbed onto her back while wrapping her legs around to secure the position.
From there it was all Waterson as she quickly locked her arms around VanZant’s head to get the rear-naked choke submission in place. VanZant did her best to pull Waterson’s arms away to slip out of the hold, but despite her best efforts there was no getting free.
Waterson tightened her grip and rather than tap out, VanZant went to sleep as referee Herb Dean rushed in to stop the fight.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) December 18, 2016
The end came at 3:21 in the first round.
“She’s real known for that head and arm throw so I kind of wanted to see if I could throw it on her,” Waterson said about the finishing sequence. “I know she’s real scrambly so we worked really hard on chain submissions and just staying calm when she’s trying to scramble because she’s really good at it.”
Waterson had to wait over a year to make her second appearance in the Octagon, but certainly showed up in a big way with a dominant submission win to submit VanZant on Saturday.
While she didn’t call anyone out for her next opponent, Waterson certainly sent a strong message to everyone at 115-pounds that a new contender has arrived in the UFC.
“It’s been a year and a half so I’ve been in the gym every day, injured or not, waking up before I had to take my daughter to school so I could get the workouts in I needed to so I could show the world what I could do for the UFC,” Waterson said.
“I’m not dreaming I’m wide awake so bring it.”
It’s a tough loss for VanZant, who drops to 4-2 overall in the UFC while falling for the second time in her past three fights in the Octagon.