MMA superstar Michelle Waterson is taking on a new challenge outside of the octagon. The 31-year-old is featured on the cover of ESPN's "Body Issue" and is putting her toned physique on full display for all to see.
🤣🤣🤣I'M ON THE COVER OF #espnbodyissue2017 🤣🤣🤣 Words can't begin to describe how I'm feeling right now. I'm so honored, and blessed to have the opportunity to be placed among these to level athletes. I want to thank @espn for capturing the true essence of me 🤗 showing that I can be strong, confident, vulnerable and free all at once! I was scared to bare it all and allow myself to be vulnerable, but I realized that stepping outside of your comfort zone is what makes you stronger! I couldn't have done any of this without the support of my husband @joshuagomez12 he taught me how to love all aspects of my body, at all the different stages. Pre baby, pregnancy, post baby, off season, in season, win or lose I was always beautiful, and I will forever be thankful. I embrace my body because it is a reflection of my life story! Thank you all for all the love and support!!! You guys are the best😘 . . . . #teamhottie #mma #wmma #karate #karatehottie #hottie #wideawake #kicks #body #flex #confidence #ufc #espn #espnbodyissue #espnw #nm #michellewaterson
Waterson posed completely nude for the annual release and spoke out about her journey to stardom as a fighter during an interview with the publication. While talking to ESPN, Michelle addressed how her body shape is different than what it would be if she worked in another profession.
"MMA is not for someone who wants to keep cute. Your body changes. You lose body fat, and that means you lose breast tissue," she said. "Your shoulders get broad, and you get scraped from the gloves. I do it because I love to do it. I could definitely be doing something else if I just wanted to look hot."
Because of her stunning good looks, Michelle earned the fitting nickname "Karate Hottie." Not only does Waterson like it, but she also thinks it may give her an advantage at times.
"I like my Karate Hottie nickname. I think it's catchy. I don't mind saying that I'm hot. If you want to underestimate your opponent [because of her nickname], for sure, go ahead," she said.
Michelle credits beginning martial arts as a child with being a source of confidence and strength.
"I was 10 when I started martial arts. It was a heavy influence on me going into adulthood," Waterson said. "It's really given me a voice. It gave me the confidence I needed to go into the world without shying away. As a kid, I was outgoing, but I also never wanted to make anybody mad. I never spoke out. But martial arts allowed me to stand up for myself when I felt like something wasn't right or when I felt like I was being taken advantage of."
Because she participates in a physically taxing sport, Michelle says that she often can take a beating. However, she says the pain in the octagon doesn't come close to the pain of childbirth.
"There is nothing that compares to the pain of childbirth. On a scale of 1-10, any pain I've taken in the ring would rank a 6, and childbirth is a 10. Now I know that if I can get through 12 hours of labor, then I can get through a 25-minute fight."