A singular experience, for sure. But not one the strawweight has had to endure alone.

“We have a great support system here at the house. My mom is here with us, so that gives me peace of mind, knowing that she’s safe. My husband Josh has been very, very key to me in this camp; helping me stay on point with my nutrition, with my workouts, with all the stuff outside of fighting, and all my interview obligations and such. Luckily we have an amazing team behind us that are willing to come through and work with us individually when they can.”

Originally slated for April’s nixed UFC Portland event, her matchup against Esparza is a beautifully conceived clash of two of the division’s finest athletes. Given both women’s tenure in the promotion, it’s almost strange that this is the first time they will fight.

“Yeah, it really is,” agrees Waterson. “It’s been a fight that we’ve wanted for a long time, it’s just never happened. Either she was matched up or I was matched up; we just never crossed paths. We knew at one point in time it would happen, so I’m happy that it’s on this card and I’m looking forward to fighting her in the Octagon.”

With that many years to imagine this matchup, “The Karate Hottie” has watched every version of the fight play out in her mind’s eye.