When Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White was asked at the UFC 238 post-fight press conference whether No. 7-ranked strawweight Michelle Waterson would get the next shot at newly crowned champion Jessica Andrade, he scoffed. “She’s ranked too low” he asserted to the assembled media, after referencing her apparently un-accommodating schedule.
From a meritocratic standpoint, it was a sensible answer. The “Karate Hottie” has won three straight bouts, but there are six women ranked between her and the champion. The only reason media and fans were anticipating she may have been next was because of the UFC’s conspicuous campaign to legitimize her claim after her recent victory over former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz, ostensibly in an attempt to cash in on Waterson’s massive social-media-enabled popularity. With those suppositions being put to rest, the prevailing assumption was that Tatiana Suarez — who had just solidified her No. 1 contender status with a decision victory over third-ranked Nina Ansaroff — would be the champ’s first defense, after the wrestling phenom took some time to recuperate.
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