MMA Payout Exclusive: Interview with Burt Watson

December 9, 2016

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with former UFC event coordinator and current Alliance MMA Director of Fighter Relations Burt Watson.  We talked about what he did after leaving the UFC, his new job and what he thinks about the UFC sale.

MPO:  What have you been doing since you left the UFC?

Watson:  When I left the UFC, I was home for 35-40 days.  It’s the longest I’ve been home in 10 years.  I was due some down time, private time and family time.  So, when I left [the UFC], I kinda just shut down and regrouped a little bit until the smoked cleared.

Watson said that he received an email from Rob Haydak when he was operating Cage Fury Fighting Championships [CFFC].  He met Haydak a couple weeks later.  Although Watson received a couple inquiries from other organizations, he decided to work with Haydak since it was close to home.   He came on as Fighter Relations for CFFC.

Watson noted that he wanted to slow down a bit after working with the UFC.  “Last year with the UFC, I did a total of 40 shows.  That’s a ton, baby.”

At the time, Haydak was putting together the Alliance MMA deal.  Once the deal was put together, he became part of Alliance MMA.  In addition to the announcement that Watson would be a Director of Fighter Relations, he was appointed to the Board of Directors.

MPO: What will your new role be about?

Watson: Same capacity with CFFC now on a larger scale.  Working with regional promotions.  Alliance MMA has about 5-6 promotions.  My role is fighter relations which entails continuity and consistency across the board.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel, just put some more air in it.  We’re going to see where we can share information and come up with a template with working consistently.

When I was in the UFC, I got the fighters at their highest level.  Common sense told me that there was a feeder system.  Now I get to see it.  I’m proud and excited about that and the good thing is that I’m still learning.

MPO:  What advice do you give young fighters?

Watson:  I start by giving my presence.  Some of them are aware of my past and past history.  Sometimes when the lights go on, there lights go out.  I try to prepare them and give them a feel for what its like and what they can expect in that you have to be ‘camera ready. ‘

I try to show them that they are not in the cage just to get their butt whooped.  The promoter cares that they are getting the right fights to move them along.

In addition, Watson will provide detailed prep procedures for Alliance MMA promotions.

Watson:  First thing I do is check their weight.  Making weight is part of your job.  Then, I’ll check their weight again.  Its part of the process, I make sure the official scale is available to get on [before official weigh-ins] to show ‘how much hustle they have.’

I do gloves.  I hand roll gloves.  I make sure that the fighters have a mouthpiece, cup and know who is wrapping hands and braiding hair.

Fighters are a strange breed.  You gotta understand them.  You gotta get to know that, or ask.

MPO: What is the state of MMA?  Do you see it expanding?

Watson:  When I initially started in MMA in 2001, I had no idea what MMA was.  I knew about karate, I knew about Bruce Lee and Bruce LeRoy…To see the sport go where it is now and to see the advancement of the technical skill background is great.

I come from a boxing background, through the sport of boxing, as a coordinator, I couldn’t get near a boxer of the caliber of a Mike Tyson or Oscar de la Hoya.  The sport of MMA is fan friendly. It did not pull the athlete, it made the athlete accessible to the fan.  When you have fan popularity, there’s room to grow, there’s a whole way of doing it.

The NFL has been around for over 50 years and it is still growing.  I think MMA has still got a way to grow.

MPO:  What are your thoughts on the UFC sale?

Watson: It’s a testament to the growth of the sport.  It’s pretty well documented.  I know where they were and how much red there was 5 years into it.  Not in my wildest dreams did I see $4.2 billion.

2 Responses to “MMA Payout Exclusive: Interview with Burt Watson”

  1. edi on December 11th, 2016 9:03 PM

    Burt gave the UFC heart and a face BTS/ back stage. It now appears to be a faceless manager’s wasteland BTS. Fighters are a strange breed.

  2. Michael on December 11th, 2016 10:14 PM

    Good read J!

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