Cortney Casey couldn’t quite get the Hail Mary against Michelle Waterson.
The opening bout on the UFC Glendale card featured strawweight action. Waterson took on Casey inside the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona tonight (April 14). Waterson was looking to avoid her third straight loss.
Waterson got things started with leg kicks. She began to stick out the jab and followed it up with leg kicks. Her speed advantage was apparent early. Casey adjusted and did some dirty boxing, but Waterson got out of the clinch quickly.A clean right hand was on the mark for Casey.Another right hand got the attention of Waterson. She rushed down the “Karate Hottie” and the two battled for position in the clinch. Waterson connected with an elbow on the break. Waterson dropped to the mat and it looked like a slip. Waterson scored a takedown. Casey used the fence to attempt an armbar. Waterson avoided danger while maintaining top control. She landed some clean ground-and-pound near the end of the round.
The two immediately engaged in the clinch at the start of the second stanza. Waterson landed an inside elbow, followed by another before the break. Casey connected with a counter right hand, but was taken down. Waterson landed some elbows in full guard. Casey went for an armbar, but Waterson got out and remained in top control. Casey went for another armbar, but couldn’t get it. The round came to a close in the stand-up, but not before Waterson knocked Casey down with a kick.
A high kick connected for Waterson at the beginning of the final frame. Casey hit a right hand as Waterson landed a body kick. They battled in the clinch and Waterson landed a knee to the body. Casey once again found herself on her back. Casey went for another arm bar. Waterson got out of it and Casey went for a heel hook. Waterson nailed Casey with a right hand as both fighters got back to their feet. The “karate Hottie” drove in, but Casey was able to thwart the attempt. Casey spun around and went for the back. She went for a rear-naked choke, but transitioned to the armbar. Waterson avoided the submission and time expired. Close call for Waterson, but she survived and earned a split decision victory.
Final Result: Michelle Waterson def. Cortney Casey via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)