UFC 218: ‘The Predator’, ‘The Karate Hottie’ locked in ahead of bouts

The UFC has two rising stars in Francis Ngannou and Michelle Waterson.

Or, as they are better known inside and outside of The Octagon: ‘The Predator’ and ‘The Karate Hottie.’

Ngannou and Waterson will take part in main card fights at UFC 218 on Saturday in Detroit.

Ngannou, the fourth-ranked heavyweight by UFC and undefeated in five UFC fights, will battle No. 1 contenter Alistair Overeem in the co-main event (along with Holloway vs. Aldo 2). Waterson, the sixth-ranked strawweight, takes on No. 5 Tecia Torres.

“I’m hungry. I want everything,” said Ngannou, a native of Cameroon, on Monday.

“We both have traditional martial arts backgrounds” said Waterson of her opponent, Torres, on Monday. “Her strengths are my strengths; her weaknesses are my strengths.

“It’s time to go out there and have fun.”

Ngannou, who recently set the world record for punching power, describes what his (awesome) nickname means to him.

I currently hold the world records of punching power 💪 #thepredator

A post shared by Francis Ngannou (@francisngannou) on

“(A) real predator is very focused on only his foe, not what else is going on around him,” said Ngannou, who moved to Las Vegas from Paris seven months ago to be closer to the UFC facilites. “I want to start the hurting (of an opponent). Nothing will disturb me).”

When asked to discuss his opponent, the veteran Overeem, Ngannou knows the challenge he’s facing… age and experience vs. speed and power.

“He’s (Overeem) been around for almost 20 years. He has that experience. He’s learned a lot. He fights literally differently than he fought before,” Ngannou said.

“He may be the best striker on the roster right now … after me.”

Waterson, whose dance off with Paige VanZant ahead of their December 2016 bout went viral, said her (also awesome) nickname made her feel a little strange only one time before.

“When I have to give my email to my daughter’s first-grade teacher and she’s asking me what it is and I don’t want to just say ‘Karate Hottie’ so I spell it out K-A-R-A-T-E …. That was the only time I was nervous talking about it,” Waterson said with a laugh. “My daughter even introduces me that way, ‘This is my mom, she’s the Karate Hottie. She’s proud of it. What more could you ask for?

“You have to accept it (the nickname) and hone it with pride and confidence. I’m not ashamed to say I feel like I’m hot and I do karate … and it rhymes.”

Ngannou’s fighting style comes from boxing and considers Mike Tyson a big inspiration. The 6-foot-5, 253-pounder wants to be No. 1, which means, taking out current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.

“My goal is to take that belt,” Ngannou added with a sly smile.

Waterson, who holds a black belt in American Freestyle Karate, is comfortable taking the fight to the ground, if necessary.

“The beauty of MMA is it can go anywhere. You have to be able to be vertisile, you have to be able to keep it standing or take it down (to the ground) if needbe. Of course, I do have the standup background. (But) It’s just a matter of where the fight takes itself.”