Walel Watson will be the first to tell you there is quality mixed martial arts south of the American border. Mostly because he spent the majority of his career before the UFC fighting there.
Quality is top-notch, according to the UFC on Fuel fighter.
“People (have) the misconception that they’re just a bunch of ‘brawler dudes’ out there that are just barbarians,” Watson told MMAWeekly.com. “Those guys are real intelligent (and) there are tons of gyms out there. They really know their stuff.”
An American citizen, Watson resides in San Diego County and trains with Team Hurricane Awesome. But prior to getting the call up to the UFC late last year, “The Gazelle” preferred the Latin flavor of Mexican MMA promotions over the local taste, specifically in California.
The professionalism of Mexican organizations made the choice to fight for them easy.
“I just felt so much more comfortable out there,” he said, “because of how professional they wanted to carry themselves, and what they were doing at their shows compared to the smaller shows out here in California.”
Southern California is a hotbed for mixed martial arts. Many fighters have come out of the region and gone on to have great careers. Watson’s experience in the area, however, has seen its share of hiccups.
The bantamweight says it seems some of the promotions have a hidden agenda, whether it be about a paycheck or opponent. But his dealings in Mexico have been the complete opposite.
No problems in Tijuana.
“All these little shows out here in California, they’re always trying to get something out of you. There’s always little hidden message,” he said. “In Mexico, I never had a problem, not with my purse, not with my opponent, not with weight. They’ve always played everything (to) the tee.”
The UFC has had an eye on running an event in Mexico for the past few years. Watson, although he is currently focused on T.J. Dillashaw at UFC on Fuel TV 1, admits the Mexican fight card is one he’d love to be a part of. After so many fights in Mexico, it only seems appropriate he’d fight on the organization’s first trek to the Latin country.
He’d go back in a heartbeat, just like all the times before when he’d get a call asking him to fight for the smaller promotions.
“It’s so legit out there that every time they called me, I was like, ‘yeah, I’ll come back,’” he said.
If all goes well, Watson will soon see Mexican fight soil again.
¡México, aquí viene el UFC!