Michelle Waterson (top) stopped Diana Rael at Jackson’s MMA
Series 7. | Photo: Wilson Fox
ISLETA PUEBLO, N.M. -- Michelle
Waterson waited approximately 21 months to make her return to
In just 132 seconds, her moment was over. The payoff was worth it,
however, as “The Karate Hottie” forced Diana Rael to
tap to a rear-naked choke in the first round of their Jackson’s
MMA Series 7 main event bout Saturday night at the Hard Rock
Hotel and Casino Albuquerque.
Waterson hadn’t competed since a first-round technical knockout of
Yoshida on a regional North Dakota card in April 2010. Her most
extensive fighting action since then consisted of an appearance on
Season 3 of the MTV reality show “Bully Beatdown.” The birth of
Waterson’s first daughter, Araya, had kept her plenty busy in the
meantime. It didn’t take long for the Greg Jackson protégé to
realize how much she missed the sport.
“I freaking love it in this cage,” Waterson said, addressing the
crowd at the Hard Rock following her victory. “Before I got here I
was like, ‘Why do I do this?’ It’s because of all you guys.”
Rael (3-2) was aggressive in the early going, attacking Waterson
(9-3) against the cage and landing knees in the clinch. After the
two combatants broke away from the fence, Waterson offered a
glimpse of her martial arts background by rocking the Colorado
native with a front kick.
Waterson followed up with a kick to the body, but Rael caught it
and took her opponent to the mat, landing a series of short punches
while in guard. The advantage proved to be fleeting, as Waterson
swiftly reversed position and locked in the decisive choke. She
punctuated the victory with a celebratory cartwheel in the center
of the cage.
“It’s been a long time,” Waterson said. “To prepare all this time …
when you get in the ring everything goes out the window. You don’t
know what’s gonna happen.”
had fond memories of his first fight in New Mexico, a visit which
resulted in a first-round triangle-choke submission of the
previously unbeaten Sean
Spencer at MMA Fight Pit “Genesis” in August.
Martinez took out Hanjani.
Martinez made sure his return trip wasn’t nearly as enjoyable,
submitting the Serial Boxe representative with a reverse triangle
choke at the 3:44 mark of the second round in their light
heavyweight, co-main event scrap.
Hanjani (2-2) started strong, defending Martinez’s takedowns while
starching the Jackson’s MMA product with inside low kicks in the
opening stanza. Martinez said that the strikes weren’t significant
enough to slow
him down, however.
“You’ve just got to shake it out and go (back) to the game plan,”
In round two, he did exactly that, closing the distance against
Hanjani and driving his foe to the canvas. With the 26-year-old
Denver native stacked against the cage, Martinez went to work with
a flurry of left hands. Hanjani’s attempts to push Martinez away
were unsuccessful, and the New Mexican remained diligent in working
his ground-and-pound assault.
Given a slight opening, an opportunistic Martinez took Hanjani’s
back and locked in the reverse triangle, giving his opponent no
option but to ask out of the contest.
“I’ll fight whenever, whoever, wherever,” said Martinez (7-1), who
won his third straight fight under the Jackson’s MMA Series banner.
“Let’s do it. “
Earlier, superior speed and movement carried the
day for professional boxer Jodie
Esquibel against Amy Riehle in
a women’s 109-pound catch-weight bout. Esquibel outclassed Riehle
on the feet throughout, working the body and head with punches
while mixing in kicks.
Esquibel outpointed Riehle.
The taller Riehle had some success keeping the Jackson’s MMA
representative away with front kicks, but the speedy Esquibel was
able to close distance and land multiple combinations in each
round. All three judges saw the bout 30-27 in favor of Esquibel,
who won her professional MMA debut against Brittany
Horton at the Jackson’s MMA Series 4 last April.
“She was super tough and I got frustrated,” Esquibel said. “I knew
that I could get inside, but she kept me at bay with that front
Overwhelmed by the wrestling and top game of Adam
Gonzales for two rounds, Armando
Montoya Jr. showed great resolve, stuffing his first takedown
of the fight and submitting the Jackson’s MMA product with an
anaconda choke 53 seconds into the final round of their
For 10 minutes, Gonzales imposed his will, taking the Las Cruces,
N.M., native down four times while peppering his foe with short
punches inside his guard. When Gonzales shot for his fifth takedown
of the night early in round three, Montoya was ready, stopping the
takedown and securing the choke.
Three amateur bouts began the evening, as Jackson MMA’s Emily Kagen
took a hard-fought split decision win against Tempe, Ariz., native
Courtney Casey in a women’s flyweight contest. Judges J.J.
Jaramillo and Chris Avila saw the bout 29-28 in favor of Kagen,
while Andres Anaya scored it 29-28 for Casey.
Jackson’s MMA representative Riki Nobuta made his amateur debut a
memorable one, submitting Team Pueblo export Adam Soto with an
armbar at 1:42 of the second round in a 160-pound catch-weight
Pueblo, Colo.,’s Jose Caro forced Tempe, Ariz., native Pete Quezade
to tap to a guillotine choke at 2:59 of round one in a middleweight
bout in the first bout of the evening.