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Michelle Waterson vs. Yasuko Tamada: A Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2014

Michelle Waterson vs. Yasuko Tamada: A Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    Invicta FC is back in action on Saturday for their eighth card, on which Michelle Waterson defends her atomweight title for the first time against No. 5-ranked Yasuko Tamada.

    Tamada is making her Invicta debut. To earn the title shot, she has won three straight fights. Tamada has spent her entire career in Japan in famed women's fighting organizations such as JEWELS.

    Her career 15-8-3 record may not be that impressive, but she has fought top competition in the past, including Naho Sugiyama.

    Waterson pulled off a major upset to win the title, and now she is back in action. The 11-3 champion will aim to defend the title and win her sixth straight fight.

    Here is a complete breakdown for the main event title fight that comes your way on UFC Fight Pass this weekend. 

Striking

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    The clear advantage in the fight goes to Waterson on the feet.

    She is a skilled striker with a well-rounded attack of punches, kicks and knees. Tamada is primarily a grappler and is simply going to lose the striking battle.

    Waterson is not only good technically on the feet, but she is able to blend her flashy technique with precision as well. That is a rare quality in MMA.

    If the fight stays on the feet, Waterson is going to batter Tamada. Period.

    Edge: Waterson 

Grappling

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    Waterson has the advantage in the grappling department as well.

    Yes, Tamada is a grappler who trains under the tutelege of one of the most dominant submission artists in women's MMA history in Megumi Fujii.

    However, Waterson got to showcase both her offensive and defensive grappling against Jessica Penne.

    Penne, now a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter 20, was a heavy favorite in their title fight. A big reason why was her perceived advantage on the mat. Waterson took it to her in the first round and won the grappling exchanges. Later in the fight, she fought out of a deep armbar attempt.

    It is difficult to see how Tamada gets the fight to the ground. Even if she can, I can't see her being able to dominate Waterson for an extended period of time.

    Waterson, on the other hand, will be able to control from top position.

    I favor the complete grappling of Waterson. The defensive skills will be on full display.

    Edge: Waterson 

Submissions

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    Tamada is a grappler at heart, but she has only finished two of her fights via submission. Waterson has done it seven times, and against higher competition.

    Not only does Waterson have the extraordinary armbar win over Penne, but she has choke finishes and a flying armbar to her credit. She is the complete package.

    The Japanese challenger has all the ability to catch Waterson, but it is just not a good bet that she'll do it.

    Waterson is just a better fighter in every category.

    Edge: Waterson

X-Factors

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    Megumi Fujii's Twitter Page (@MegaMeguCat)

    Tamada's X-factor: Belief

    Waterson is the better fighter, but Tamada must believe she can win, which she most likely already does. After all, most fighters do. However, that belief must not go away during this fight.

    If Waterson allows her to hang around deep into the bout, Tamada must still believe she can catch a submission in the championship rounds. We see far too many fighters get discouraged and mail it in after a lost round or two.

    Tamada must be active in looking for ways to win. They will be few and far between, but she must learn from her coach and be ready to finish at any given point.

     

    Waterson's X-factor: Staying Hungry

    After winning a title, many fighters lose the hunger, and they start to falter. Waterson can't do that.

    Sure, she is more talented than Tamada, but she is still a game fighter.

    We have seen bigger upsets happen in MMA.

    If Waterson still fights with the hunger that brought her the gold, she will steamroll Tamada. 

Prediction

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    This is Waterson's fight to lose. She is superior in nearly every facet of the game.

    The 28-year-old is unlikely to encounter trouble against Tamada. Instead, she will show off her exciting striking and repeatedly tag Tamada from bell to bell.

    After stopping the takedowns, Tamada becomes a sitting duck against Waterson. The strikes will tally up to a huge advantage, and eventually the referee will have to step in to stop the onslaught. The stoppage will come once Waterson wears Tamada down enough to pressure with consistent strikes against the fence or on the ground.

    A dominant performance from Waterson is expected this weekend.

    Prediction: Waterson defeats Tamada by TKO in the fourth round

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