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Burt Watson: The man who pays attention

Derek Bowe

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The weekly Pound-4-Pound Podcast set was graced with the likes of The “Babysitter to the stars”, Mr. Burt Watson, who was kind enough to join us last night and we could not have anticipated the treat we were in for.

Myself, and Matthew Wells were tasked with hosting the podcast along with Burt as our guest. Burt spoke on his relationships with fighters, and the meticulous attention to details which he is so revered, and respected for. This led into a question from Matt, Matt asked Burt if, and how he has personally added to the production value, Burt reveals something to us that Matt, nor I, and I am sure many others never knew.

Burt used to work with boxing before his time with mixed martial arts and the UFC. In watching an early UFC event, Burt noticed during a grappling exchange between two fighters, their hands having white tape over their gloves, his immediate reaction of not knowing which hands belonged to which fighter, and it made the exchange on the ground, quite confusing for himself, the spectators, and the cameras. Burt thought back to boxing and how he had used red tape provided by Uline tape. He made a phone call over to the company, and asked if they had the red, also if they had blue to denote the other corner, sure enough, they did indeed have what was needed.

Ever since that moment, the red and blue tape which every fighter uses in boxing and mixed martial arts alike to signify which corner the fighter is out of, came from Burt Watson, and his attention to detail.

It is amazing that something taken for granted, as simply per the usual, can have such a huge influence on production value, and the overall viewing experience of the combat sports. Yet it has, and for that, we can thank none other than Burt Watson.

Burt shared his experiences with the current promotion which relishes his services, Cage Fury Fighting Championships, and what he brings to their table. Stating that the UFC is the standard by which everybody follows,

“In going to cage fury, I am taking with me things that I know, things that I have taught, things that have become a staple of the industry, I take to them”

Burt then goes onto to comment on a very real part of his duties,

“I have to know how to get fighters in, and out of the cage from the fight, and God forbid, if need be, into a stretcher.”

Burt is given the floor for any shout outs, or recognition, He takes it upon himself to congratulate the two headlining fighters who step into the Octagon this Sunday at UFC Fight Night: Saskatoon, Max Holloway, and Charles Oliveira respectively. In doing so, he leaves us with the gem of all gems, this golden line,

“It’s your fight, it’s your night, you better go get it right!”

Burt Watson, everyone.

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UFC 219’s Jimmie Rivera to TJ Dillashaw “Defend Your Belt or Vacate.”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest had the chance to talk to #4 ranked UFC bantamweight Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera ahead of his fight at UFC 219 against John Lineker.

Rivera (21-1) extended his unbeaten run to twenty when he defeated Thomas Almeida at UFC Long Island in July. Originally scheduled to face former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, we began by asking Rivera how the opponent change had affected his preparation for UFC 219.

The only thing that’s changed is the game plan, everything else stays the same. Cruz is more of an irritating fight because he just doesn’t stop moving, but with Lineker, he’s going to stay in the pocket and bang, and I love that.

Recently, Rivera posted a video to his Twitter account of him sparring with the recently crowned bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. He told us about the context of this video, and how the sparring went down between them.

It was 3 or 4 years back. I think TJ had just lost to (John) Dodson on TUF. My teammate Louis Gaudinot was actually fighting Tim Elliott at the time, and we were in Milwaukee so I got to train with (Urijah) Faber and Dillashaw.

I just sent it to TJ to say, don’t forget what happened. I was getting the best of him, and I don’t really brag about it. But he wants to leave the weight class and fight DJ for the money fight, and I want to fight for the belt, so it’s defend your belt or vacate.

After briefly referencing the potential superfight between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw, I asked Rivera about his thoughts on the somewhat flawed UFC rankings system, and title fights being put together purely for entertainment value.

It sucks. When I become champ I won’t be like a TJ or McGregor, I’m going to be like Demetrious Johnson and defend my belt against people coming up, it’s the right thing to do. If you want to win the belt and leave the division straight away, it’s kind of bullshit.

Rivera concluded by telling me that although he isn’t looking past Lineker at 219, “the only fight that makes sense after this one, is fighting TJ for the belt.”

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Exclusive: Alexander Gustafsson eyeing summer 2018 return- wants title shot next

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Top light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson hasn’t fought since an impressive knockout win back in May, against Glover Teixeira. “The Mauler” is currently on a two-fight winning streak, and for many people, is seen as one of the most logical names to fight for the title next.

Currently absent from the Octagon since May, speaking to MMA Latest, “The Mauler” explains why he’s been on such a long layoff. “I have had an injury in my shoulder,” Gustafsson told MMA Latest. “I had a surgery a couple of months back where they put in a titanium plate to keep my collarbone in place. But that plate was taken out last week so I am back to training and slowly but surely getting better with all the rehab. I’m excited to be back in the Octagon soon.”

After so many obstacles, Gustafsson details when we can expect him back in the cage. “If everything goes well with rehab, I’ll be back in the octagon in the beginning of the summer – right in time for the next title match!”

Volkan Oezdemir was calling out Gustafsson for a European number one contender fight, Gustafsson explains he was never interested in the fight. “No, my prior goal and my only interest is the title fight,” Gustafsson said. “If Volkan wins against DC he will probably be my next opponent.”

The title fight is “absolutely” what Gustafsson believes is next for him and don’t expect to see him in a number one contender fight first. “As I said previously, the title fight is my number one interest.”

With Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezdemir fighting for the title at UFC 220, Gustafsson shares his thoughts on the matchup. “It’s an exciting matchup – DC is the more experienced fighter and he is a more complete fighter than Volkan,” Gustafsson said. “DC has also been in this situation before, Volkan has not.”

Back in July, Jon Jones failed his second test for PED’s after beating Daniel Cormier to regain his light heavyweight belt. Before the fights with Daniel Cormier, Jones went to war with Gustafsson back in 2013. Gustafsson shares his thoughts on Jones’ second failed test. “Disastrous is my first thought,” Gustafsson explains. “But for the sport, it is good that the truth is out. I wish Jon good luck in his rehab and he is one of the most talented fighters in the UFC.”

Gustafsson was also asked if he eyeing a rematch with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones before the end of his career. “Of course, I feel good and I’m motivated,” Gustafsson said. “I would like to get the opportunity to match up against both DC and Jon before I retire.”

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Exclusive: Aljamain Sterling discusses upcoming fight and more ahead of UFC Fresno

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Alajamain Sterling is set to meet late-notice opponent, Marlon Moraes, at the UFC’s return to California. UFC Fresno is headlined by a featherweight fight between top contenders Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega.

Sterling was originally supposed to meet Rani Yahya before he was forced to pull out. Although the Moraes is a bigger fight, it doesn’t seem to matter much to the Brazilian Jui-Jitsu brown belt.

I don’t really give a sh*t honestly,” Sterling told MMA Latest. “I just want to fight, make money, whoop ass, and get paid, you know? That’s honestly all I really care about right now at this point in my career and I’m fighting to pay the bills. This what I chose to do and I have to keep the ball rolling. That’s honestly the way I’m looking at things right now and it is a bigger fight for sure. But at the end of the day, it’s another man standing in front of me trying to do the same thing, separate me from my consciousness, or detach a limb from my body.”

Sterling also shares his thoughts on his new opponent, Moraes. “I think he’s a great opponent,” Sterling said. “I think a win over him puts me in a position to fight for a number one contender spot or challenge for the world title.”

Another bantamweight who was also looking for a replacement opponent was Jimmie Rivera, but was a fight with ever a realistic possibility? “Yeah, it was,” Sterling said. “But it takes two to fight, so Rivera didn’t want the fight and here we are.”

So why did it take so long for a replacement to be booked? “Well if you look at the landscape of the top ten, top fifteen of the division, everyone was pretty much booked up,” Sterling explains. “So there really wasn’t no one readily available to fight, so that kind of left me to either take a stay busy fight or just kind of wait and see what happens.”

Sterling also discussed who he believes is next for him with a win. “Well it really depends on the landscape of the division right now,” Sterling says. “TJ’s (Dillashaw) talking about trying to fight Mighty Mouse, I don’t know if Mighty Mouse is going to take the fight and hopefully he, TJ, he’s fighting within our division so we can keep this division going. Right now this is the hottest division, I think, in my personal opinion. So for him to try to leave the division to go take a fight at a weight class when he didn’t clean out his weight class yet, that doesn’t make much sense to me. So hopefully the UFC keeps him rolling and keeps him active between the 135-pound division. I think TJ’s actually a really great fight for me stylistically, but right now the man I’m worried about is Marlon Moraes, he’s a tough opponent, has the legs kicks, and I can’t sleep on this guy.”

Speaking of TJ Dillashaw, Sterling was also asked if he watched the TJ vs Cody Garbrandt fight at UFC 217. “Oh definitely,” Sterling says. “I would have been, I’d be a fool not to watch that fight. I thought it was a great fight, I thought skillset was very close, I thought TJ was more well rounded. I think a lot of people called me crazy because I was saying TJ had a chance of touching him on the chin and knocking him out but if he didn’t it would be a five-round decision win for TJ. But he’s a very durable fighter, uses his brain, and he implements a great gameplan everytime he goes out there. I think the only reason he got dropped at the end of that first round was because he got a little frustrated and wanted the action to kind of pick up a little bit and in the second round he changed gears a little bit and he started to dictate the pace a little bit more. Cody’s just a big counter-fighter, counter-striker, hits hard, he’s really fast, and he’s athletic, but outside of that his skill set, if we’re looking at the skillset side of knocking people out I’m going to say his well-roundedness is not really all there, I’m not saying he can’t do it, he can’t do it all, but when he fights he primarily just strikes with his hands that’s pretty much it.”

Finally, Sterling gives his prediction for his fight Moraes. “I’m going to go out there and push the pace,” Sterling explains. “I’m going to put in work and cash out B.I.W.C.O. I think that second round I’m going to push the pace, get him, get on his legs early, fire those kicks, fire those punches down the middle, I’m going to be moving. I’m going to be moving, grooving, I’m just going to go out there and do my thing man, so I’m, we got to figure out what our skillsets are, what we bring to the table and I’m just going to, we’re just going to pull up a chair and see how we’re going to have to work this out.”

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