Round 1: Tavares working his jab early, while Watson is getting his kicks going, mixing it up high and low. Tavares is very aggressive, however, working his punches into a takedown, putting Watson on his back early. Watson works right back to his feet and they start trading again. Tavares is looking good with his punches, but Watson lands a lead leg head kick. That only stops Tavares momentarily, however, as he gets right back in the pocket and starts stalking Watson. Tavares continues moving forward, but takes a knee to the groin, which momentarily stops the fight. The got right back at it on the restart, Tavares landing frequently with the jab-straight right combo. Watson lands another head kick. Tavares fires back, but Watson keeps coming and pressures Tavares to the fence, landing a solid elbow. Tavares answers with a punch followed by a knee to the midsection. Tavares comes off with a head kick of his own and then takes Watson to the mat once again, moving him against the fence on the floor. He gets to Watson’s back as they stand, but Watson escapes, eating a jab on the separation. Watson fires back with a low kick that again hits Tavares in the groin. Watson gets a second warning for low blows, and is informed any more will result in point deductions. They start back up and Tavares lands a solid knee. They finish the round swinging. MMAWeekly.com scores round one 10-9 for Tavares.
Round 2: Same m.o. with Tavares going back to his jab and Watson getting the low kicks going. Watson lands the head kick, but Tavares counters with the jab-straight. Tavares starts working in some low kicks of his own. Good exchanges early in the round by both fighters. Tavares presses Watson to the cage. They separate and Watson gets his jab going and follows with a knee to the midsection. Watson doing a good job mixing it up, starting to take control of the pace a little bit. Watson moves in with some punches, but Tavares times it perfectly and takes him down, taking Watson’s back in the process. He slips on a rear naked choke, legs locked around Watson’s midsection. Tavares releases the choke and starts punching. Watson turning and arching and rolling, fights off the choke until the horn sounds. MMAWeekly.com scores round two 10-9 for Tavares.
Round 3: Tavares starts strong with a sharp job and follows with a kick. He jabs again and then shortly after follows with a big right hand. Watson keeps coming, shooting for a takedown, but Tavares counters and takes Watson down. They’re quickly back on their feet, but Tavares immediately shoots and takes Watson down again, pinning him on the fence. Watson works back to his feet, but they stop the action briefly to cut some loose tape from around Watson’s wrist. Both men come out firing on the restart. Watson again shoots for the double-leg, but Watson counters and puts Tavares on all fours, but he can’t manage to take control. Tavares tries, but can’t secure a guillotine. Watson slips it and lands a few hard punches and then lands a knee to the chin of Tavares. Tavares shoots the double again, Watson countering it, trying to slip in a guillotine, but Tavares manages to finish the takedown. Watson is immediately back to his feet, Tavares still pressing him on the fence. Tavares drags Watson to the mat again, but the Brit is quickly up and out. Watson lands a big blow with about 10 seconds left and they unload on each other as time runs out. MMAWeekly.com scores round three 10-9 and the fight 30-27 for Tavares.
Brad Tavares def. Tom Watson by Split Decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28), R3