Even though he was stepping into a new promotion for the first time, outside of the local scene that he had built himself up in, lightweight Robert Watley was able to dominate his bout against Thiago Moises at LFA 17 in July and capture a championship in the process.
“Getting my hand raised against an opponent the quality and with the hype that Thiago had behind him, I was very pleased I could go there,” Watley told MMAWeekly.com. “It was interesting to go to a different place, cut weight and be in unfamiliar territory. Just getting acquainted to a different cage, the layout and the way everything was, with all the new aspects I felt I did really well.
“There is always room to improvement, and I definitely have been working hard to sure up the aspects of my game that I need to improve them, but I was able to walk out of there as world champion for LFA.”
For Watley, claiming the LFA lightweight title is a big accomplishment in his career as well as a reminder of all the work he put into getting to that point.
“It’s really cool to be a champion, but really what it is, is to look it at and in that belt there are the memories; the blood, sweat and tears, the good times and bad times; all the grinding for a dream,” said Watley. “It’s a milestone along the path in the journey of my MMA career.”
Watley (8-1) will look to defend his title for the first time when he takes on Daryl Wilson (8-1) in the 155-pound championship main event of LFA 27 on Friday in Shawnee, Okla.
“It’s going to really test me to see if my game is still evolving and that I’m still adding tools into my toolbox and am able to bring them out against any opponent in any situation that it calls for,” Watley said. “It’s going to be a grimy, rough and tumble affair. It’s not going to be a pretty thing. I think I’m going to have to dig deep to beat Daryl.”
“Yeah, I’m the champion, but I’m fighting in his backyard, and I’m looking at myself as the underdog,” said Watley. “Yes, there is a little pressure, I do have a bullseye on my back, but I like to use it as fuel and motivation to keep pushing me along this path in this journey.”
Though an LFA title defense could go a long way towards helping him step up to the next level, Watley is more focused on what he has in front of him and enjoying the opportunities as they come.
“I’ve been hearing that I’ll be getting that call for my last two or three fights,” Watley said. “It’s no guarantee. I’m just kind of taking it one fight at a time and am enjoying the opportunities that I’m having.
“I’m headlining a card on worldwide TV. I’m just really excited to be able to do what I’m doing and to share it with the people I have. Hopefully one day my story will touch somebody.”