UFC Vegas 26: Michelle Waterson felt bad for Zhang Weili after Rose Namajunas loss

After filling in at short notice to main event UFC Vegas 26 this weekend, alongside Marina Rodriguez, Michelle Waterson is looking forward to putting on a good show. 

Michelle Waterson will main event UFC Vegas 26 against Marina Rodriguez in a women's flyweight bout (File Photo).   -  UFC MEDIA

After former two-time bantamweight champion -- T. J. Dillashaw -- withdrew from his clash against Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 26 this Saturday, strawweights Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez stepped up at short notice and sealed the main event's slot at the Apex in Nevada.

However, they will move up a division and contest a flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night due to a quick turnaround. Waterson is wary of the challenges her tall, hard-hitting opponent could possess inside the Octagon, but she is confident about coming out on top.

"Marina is a dangerous opponent, her record speaks for itself. She's one of the taller girls in the division who throws heavy punches. She has a heavy right hand, good clinching, and those are her strengths. With that said, my standup is more creative than hers. I've more options when it's about where I want to take the fight -- if I want to keep it standing or take it to the ground. My wrestling is better than hers too, and so is my jujutsu," she told Sportstar.

 

Current strawweight titleholder Rose Namajunas defeated Zhang Weili to become a two-time champ at UFC 261 a few days ago. Waterson also expressed her thoughts regarding the showdown between the two best mixed martial artists in her division. 

"I was excited to watch those two ladies. I'm bummed for Weili because I know she trained hard to have an exciting fight. But Rose was just precise with her movements in that second and was able to catch greatness. You can't be mad at her setup because it was flawless," she said.

In 2020, both Waterson and Rodriguez had lost by split decision to No. 4 strawweight contender Carla Esparza, who will face the No. 3-ranked Yan Xiaonan later this month. Waterson donned the predictor's hat and explained how the Xiaonan-Esparza encounter could play out.

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"Carla always finds a way to win. She has that grinder wrestling mentality where she'll eat a couple of shots so that she can get in on you, take you down and control position. So it's going to be a battle of whether or not Xiaonan can keep it standing and inflict enough damage to win because Carla is relentless when it comes to her shots," she claimed.

When asked if she herself could be in line for a strawweight title eliminator if she overcomes Rodriguez in Las Vegas, Waterson stressed that she wasn't keen on getting ahead of herself.

"It's one fight at a time. I have to knock people down as they come. I get in there, win, and as long as I keep winning, I know I would be in talks very soon," she added.

Watch UFC Fight Night - Rodriguez vs Waterson on May 9, 2021, LIVE on Sony Ten 2 and Ten 3 channels from 5:30 AM IST in India.

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