When UFC event coordinator Burt Watson arrived in Los Angeles during UFC 184: Rousey vs. Zingano event week, things started out like any other show he’s coordinated during his 14-year tenure with the Las Vegas-based fight promotion. But before the fights went live on Feb. 28, Watson was on a cross-country flight to his home in Philadelphia, no longer with the UFC.
Watson’s departure was sudden, unexpected, and came as a shock. Rumors immediately surfaced about what led “The Babysitter to the Stars” to resign his longstanding position. A problem with Mark Munoz’ weight cut was the first story that emerged. Then, an altercation with one of Ronda Rousey’s entourage was blamed.
Watson confirmed that there was an incident that led to his decision to leave Los Angeles and, ultimately, the UFC, but denied that it had anything to do with any fighter or their camp.
“Things happen. I have always, always respected my name, my work, my work ethic, you know, my presence. I’ve always respected what I was doing and how I did it because that’s what we do and why we do it. More than that, I’ve always respected the athletes. I’ve always respected the people that I’ve worked around,” said Watson on Friday’s edition of MMAJunkie Radio.
“Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, Donna Marcolini always respected me. Always. I’ve never had a problem of being disrespected, or being just kind of pushed aside or mistreated,” he said. “That was not the case. I’ve respected working with the fighters and their camps like you would not believe. Those are my children. They were like my children. There was an incident that happened in L.A., which for certain reasons I can’t be as specific. But there was an incident.
“I’ve heard fighters’ names who are being mentioned about what happened in L.A. At that point I said, ‘you know what, I need to say something about that.’ I’ve never had a problem with Ronda Rousey, who is probably one of the sweetest, until she gets in the Octagon, probably one of the sweetest and gentlest persons that you know. I’ve never had a problem with Mark Munoz. I’ve never had a problem with any fighter,” added Watson.
“When I started reading and hearing things that were being said about these fighters and their camps, I felt I needed to say something to say that’s not true,” he continued. “I wanted to clear that up because that’s what I’ve been hearing.”
Watson was a fixture at UFC events. His presence became part of the atmosphere. He wouldn’t go into specifics about the incident that triggered his departure. In a nutshell, something was said to him that he felt was inappropriate and things escalated to the point that he decided to vacate his duties.
“Did someone say something to me that I didn’t like? Yes. And did it escalate to another level? Yes, it did,” he explained.” A lot of it was me just being the person that I am. If I feel I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’m doing it right, it’s hard for me to adjust to somebody coming and telling me that it’s being done wrong, or that I did something that I shouldn’t’ have done.
“I take pride in doing what I do, baby. I take pride in people putting something in my hands and walking away and not worry about it getting done, or getting done right, or getting done honestly, or not having to have to worry about it. But there are times when I can’t, I mean, you know, I’m a hood rat from Philly. If somebody says something sometimes I may not think it through to address it, but I’m going to address it, with a swiftness, and quickly,” said Watson.
“The decision to leave L.A. was mine. It was mine,” he added. “Someone said something to me that should not have been said to me, in my opinion. And I said some things afterwards out of disgust and probably hurt and probably at a point of feeling, hey, it didn’t happen like that because it didn’t. It went from one level to the next.”
And with that, 14 years later, the UFC lost its Babysitter to the Stars, much to the chagrin of the plethora of fighters that took to social media to say a heartfelt goodbye to Watson, proving he was much more than his job title could ever let on.