Another notable mixed martial artist is stripping down for ESPN The Magazine's “Body Issue” ... and picking up a sword.
Ultimate Fighting Championship strawweight Michelle Waterson will appear in the forthcoming 2017 edition of the annual “Body Issue,” the Worldwide Leader announced on Sunday. “The Karate Hottie” will share the pages of the periodical with 22 other athletes, including the National Football League's Julian Edelman and Ezekiel Elliott, Major League Baseball's Javier Baez, San Jose Sharks teammates Brent Burns and Joe Thornton of the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association's Isaiah Thomas.
The annual release focuses on pictorials of various athletes in the nude. The 2017 preview video released by ESPN shows Waterson in the buff on a rocky shoreline, posing with a sword.
The 31-year-old Waterson, 14-5 as a pro fighter, is just the latest in a line of fighters to forego their clothes for the publication. In 2010, featherweight star “Cyborg” Cristiane Justino and her then-husband “Cyborg” Evangelista Santos posed together, while in 2012, former UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was the year's cover athlete. Former UFC champions Jon Jones and Miesha Tate have also made past appearances and last year, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor posed was featured.
The former Invicta Fighting Championships atomweight queen, Waterson lost her 105-pound title in an upset to Brazil's Herica Tiburcio in December 2014. The Jackson-Wink MMA product then bumped up to 115 pounds and rebounded, opening her UFC career with consecutive wins over Angela Magana and Paige VanZant. In her last outing this past April at UFC on Fox 24, Waterson was choked out in the second round by Rose Namajunas.
The 2017 “Body Issue” will be released July 7, but athlete photos, interviews and videos will appear on ESPN.com beginning July 5.