Michelle WatersonSince returning to fighting last year after a two-year hiatus, Michelle “Karate Hottie” Waterson has made great strides forward in what was already a strong up and coming career.

For Waterson it’s not so much been what she’s done in the gym, but a major addition to her personal life that has made her want to strive for more in her career.

“I think that after having my daughter I’ve really kind of stepped up my game as far as being a fighter,” said Waterson. “Now I have a lot more reasons to win and show my daughter that you can go after your dreams no matter what happens to you in life.

“I feel like I’m back and better than ever. I have more motivation and she pushes me to be better every day.”

While she had a convincing win in her first bout back against Donna Rael in January 2012, it was a split-decision victory over Lacey Schuckman at Invicta FC 3 in October that really tested Waterson’s resolve.

“She almost beat me in the first round, so it was kind of a mental battle for me to pull myself out of that and acknowledge that I could do it even though I lost that first round,” said Waterson.

“I’ve always had heart, and when it comes to fighting, I think it’s important to understand that. There have been times where I’ve been tested and was able to focus and push through.”

Waterson’s performance was strong enough that Invicta invited her back, this time to challenge 105-pound champion Jessica Penne in the main event of Invicta FC 5 on April 5 card in Kansas City.

“I watched her last fight and I know there are some things I can do to expose her weaknesses, which is what I plan on doing,” Waterson told MMAWeekly.com.

“Knowing that I have a chance to get the belt definitely motivates me, but a fight’s a fight and she’s just another person that’s going to go on my record. That’s how I look at it. I take her as seriously as I do my other opponents, nothing more, nothing less.”

With the debuts of former Bellator champion Zoila Frausto-Gurgel alongside former Strikeforce champions Sarah Kaufman and Cris “Cyborg” Santos, the fact that Waterson is headlining the card is awing to her, but also very motivating.

“I’m totally excited to be headlining the card,” said Waterson. “It’s pretty surreal.

“That’s crazy to me that I’m headlining above all those girls. They’re the best in the sport. It’s awesome, but at the same time I’ve got to show up and do my job and do it in a convincing fashion that I can show people that I do deserve that spotlight.”

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