On March 24th, Tom "Kong" Watson will return after almost a year-long absence, putting his BAMMA World Middleweight title on the line against the UK BAMMA Middleweight champ Jack "The Hammer" Marshman in the main event of BAMMA 9 fight card in Birmingham, England.
Watson is currently 14-4 in his MMA campaign, training alongside some of the best fighters on the planet at Jackson-Winkeljohn camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In his last fight, Watson delivered one of the best performances of 2011, with a KO (Head kick + punches combo) victory over the PRIDE veteran Murilo "Ninja" Rua. At BAMMA 9, Kong will be looking to entertain the fans with another spectacular performance, this time against the undefeated 10-0 (8 KO/TKO finishes) heavy-hitter in Jack Marshman.
We had an opportunity to interview Tom Watson, who spoke about recovering from his back injury, fighting for BAMMA, and the expectations from the fight with Jack Marshman.
Make sure to follow Tom Watson on Twitter @TomKongWatson.
Can you talk about your training camp for this fight? I understand you’re training at Greg Jackson’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"Yes, I’m training at Greg Jackson’s again in Albuquerque. I had that back injury that really troubled me for a while, so it was all about re-gaining my physical strength and focus. Back injuries, real back injuries, usually take a lot of time to heal, but I feel in great shape, and I wouldn’t fight if I wasn’t 100%."
How different is the training you have at Greg Jackson’s than the one you had back in the UK?
"There’s more full time fighters in the USA to train with. There are a lot of different styles as well. In England you’re training mostly with one type of guys. Everyone knows there are a lot of good strikers in England, and there are some good Jiu-Jitsu guys as well, but as far as wrestling goes, there are not so many guys."
What do you think about Jack Marshman as a fighter? Do you see any weaknesses in his game?
"It’s difficult to tell. I’ve seen a couple of his fights, and it looks like has heavy hands, and is decent off his back. He’s 10-0, and is a very tough opponent. I’m ready for anything, whether it’s wrestling or striking I will be there to give my best."
Do you think records even matter in MMA?
"Undefeated guys usually have a very high self-confidence, obviously because they never lost. But records mean nothing really, at the end of the day it’s all about who performs better inside the cage."
You’re 29 years old, and won 10 of your last 11 fights. It seems like you’re reaching the peak of your MMA career, where do you see yourself down the road?
"To be honest, it’s hard to think beyond the next fight after the operation I had last year. I don’t really know if it’s going to be my last fight or not. I’m just looking forward to March 24th in hope to put up a great performance."
Michael Bisping is currently “the best MMA fighter to come out of the United Kingdom”, or at least he’s marketed that way. Do you think that perhaps in the future you will take over that slot and become the face of UK MMA?
"You know, might be. Like I said, the future is hard to predict. It’s also about fighting in the UFC, it’s something hard to achieve without fighting in the UFC."
Obviously you’re a BAMMA fighter, but do you think about fighting in the UFC? Is that something you aspire to do?
"Obviously, all the guys I train with are fighting in the UFC. If you want to make a proper living from this sport, you need to be in the UFC. It’s very hard when you’re not fighting in the UFC, so only a few guys are able to make respectable living from just being a fighter."
Since this is your fourth fight for the promotion, can you talk about the experience of fighting for BAMMA, and its role in developing Mixed Martial Arts in the UK?
"I think they’ve done a great job so far. The first events really reminded me the Cage Rage events, so it’s really nothing like the “big” BAMMA today. I think now they are trying to go back and build more in UK, instead of bringing a lot of foreign guys like they did for their previous shows. It’s going to be BAMMA’s 9th show, so they are getting better and doing the right things. As a fighter, they always treat me well; they are also very professional by doing the weigh-ins right, and everything else. It’s a good place to fight at right now."
What is your prediction for the fight with Jack Marshman? Do you think you’ll be able to top your amazing performance against Ninja Rua at BAMMA 6?
"A lot depends on how the other guy comes to fight. Ninja came to fight, and the way he fought helped my gameplan. That’s why it was an exciting fight. From what I know, Marshman is similar to that; he likes to go to war, so it won’t surprise me if it’s more of an epic encounter than the last fight. Gameplan-wise, there’s nothing in particular. If I want to be a successful fighter, I need to be ready for everything."
Thanks a lot for your time, Tom. Is there anyone you would like to mention for this interview?
"I would like to thank Lonsdale, Rockstar, my teammates at Jackson’s, everyone who comes to train with me, my family. Well, and basically everyone who has to deal with my personality."