Paige VanZant didn't hold a grudge after Michelle Waterson choked her out at UFC on FOX 22 this weekend -- and graciously congratulated her opponent backstage ... so says Michelle herself.
The Karate Hottie say she has the ultimate respect for Paige -- and thought it was classy when VanZant spoke with her after the fight. "She's a really sweet girl."
Waterson says she has 2 opponents in mind moving forward -- and also wants to capitalize on her high profile victory ... maybe even taking Paige's place on "Dancing with the Stars."
Check out the clip ... Michelle's awesome.