Former Invicta FC atomweight champion Michelle Waterson is currently in negotiations to join the UFC, sources close to the situation told MMAFighting,com's Ariel Helwani, as reported on Wednesday's episode of UFC Tonight.
A congenial and marketable atomweight affectionately nicknamed "The Karate Hottie," Waterson, 29, was expected to be the lynchpin of the Invicta FC brand following the UFC's mass signing of the 115-pound division and filming of The Ultimate Fighter 20.
Waterson (12-4) currently remains under contract with Invicta FC, although a contract buyout would not be without precedent. Waterson would assumedly shift up to the strawweight division if signed by the UFC.
Over the course of her Invicta FC tenure, Waterson captured the promotion's 105-pound title in April 2013 with a stunning and electrifying fourth-round armbar victory over Jessica Penne, then defended it once with a three-round beatdown of Yasuko Tamada at Invicta FC 8 -- which marked the all-female promotion's first event to broadcast exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.
Her road hit an unexpected speed bump this past December though, when Waterson met unheralded 22-year-old Herica Tiburcio in the main event of Invicta FC 10. Waterson and Tiburcio battled back-and-forth for three gripping rounds before the young Brazilian caught Waterson in a nasty guillotine choke and stole away the 105-pound belt, becoming the youngest champion in Invicta FC history.
The loss snapped a six-fight win streak for Waterson, who trains out of Jackson/Winklejohn in Albuquerque, N.M. and has competed professionally since 2007.