TAMPA, Fla. — You’re going to have to excuse Michelle Waterson if she’s a touch skeptical about whether Joanna Jedrzejczyk is really in danger of missing weight for their UFC on ESPN+ 19 main event on Saturday night.
The notion Jedrzejczyk was having trouble with the weight cut went public Wednesday after being whispered for the past week. Waterson is a former Invicta atomweight champ who is small for the 115-pound class; Jedrzejczyk (15-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) is a former UFC strawweight champ who has challenged for the flyweight belt.
So Waterson (17-6 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and her camp believe that by not giving in and allowing for the bout to be changed to a higher catchweight, she just may have called her opponent’s bluff in an attempt to gain an edge.
“You know, any advantage you can get as a fighter you’re gonna try to get,” Waterson told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at Wednesday’s UFC Tampa open workouts. “And I think that Joanna’s been really good in her career in playing that psychological warfare an getting in her opponent’s head before the fight even starts. Who knows, maybe she thought she wanted to have her cake and eat it to because of my kindhearted nature.”
Waterson admits that she was surprised when she first heard about Jedrzejczyk’s issues, given there’s nothing like this in her past.
“Very surprised, actually, because of Joanna’s professionalism and this never happening before,” Waterson said. “We knew that she was going to be the bigger girl Joanna’s just always been a bigger 115er but we never in a million years thought that she wouldn’t be make weight, so yeah, it’s disheartening.”
Given all the drama which has already gone down, there’s still plenty of potential for surprised between now and the time the duo find themselves in opposite corners of the cage come Saturday night.
Waterson has conceded that if Jedrzejczyk misses weight badly, her team could choose from a variety of demands, including financial compensation and monitoring JJ’s weight on fight day before agreeing for the bout to go on.
But for now, Waterson just wants to wish Jedrzejczyk the best of luck in her weight cut, regardless of the circumstances.
“Im hoping it was just a moment of weakness on Joanna’s part,” Waterson said. “And I’m still hopeful that she pulls through and makes the weight on Friday because both of us have been preparing for this fight fight for quite a while now and I wouldn’t want to disappoint the fans.”
UFC on ESPN+ 19 takes place Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. The card streams on ESPN+.
To hear more from Waterson, click on the video linked above.