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Michelle Waterson: Rose Namajunas is ‘my favorite strawweight fighter’

michelle waterson

Michelle Waterson isn’t about to pretend like she has some sort of huge grudge with Rose Namajunas in order to gin up phony hype for their UFC on FOX 24 strawweight matchup on Saturday night.

She doesn’t need it; there was no ill will with Paige VanZant, either, and that was the UFC’s most-watched television fight in three years. People are watching her either way.

Waterson, in fact, considers her co-main event opponent her favorite fighter in the 115-pound division.

“She’s probably my favorite strawweight fighter on the roster,” Waterson said at Thursday’s UFC on FOX 24 open workouts. “I like her, her lifestyle, I like the way she represents herself, her background is similar to mind. Unfortunately, like Highlander, there can be only one.”

Namajunas (5-3) is coming off a loss in her last fight, but Waterson isn’t holding it against her. Namjunas lost a split decision to Karolina Kowalkeiwicz which took Fight of the Night honors at UFC 201 and snapped a three-fight win streak.

“It was a little bump in the road,” Waterson said. “She lost a close decision and then Karolina went on to fight for the belt, and she did a great job against Joanna fighting for that title.

“To me, I love a challenge because it makes me rise to the occasion and forces me to get better, and that’s what Rose is presenting.”

In the meantime, while Kansas City isn’t the hometown of Waterson, a JacksonWink fighter based out of Albuquerque, Saturday’s card still feels like something of a homecoming. Waterson (14-4) competed three times in the Kansas City area for Invicta FC and won all three times, including her fourth-round submission win over Jessica Penne to claim the Invicta atomweight title in one of 2013’s best fights.

“It’s always a breath and fresh air when you can come to a place with familiarity, and that’s what it feels like. The airport, the streets, the sound of BBQ. And every time I fought in Kansas City, I won.”

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