Will “Kong” be King in 2011 – A Guest Article by MMA UK fan, Lawrence Riva

According to the Chinese Zodiac 2011 is the year of the Rabbit, but to the MMA Fan could this be the year of the Gorilla. On this little Island of ours we have a rich history and talent for fighting. Some would say it is what Great Britain was founded upon.

One fighter that the British MMA Community has been talking about again since our own year of the Rabbit began is the 28 year old from our own shores, Tom ‘Kong’ Watson. Anyone who follows the UK MMA scene will know exactly who Watson is and may have even been to see him fight. For those who haven’t seen him fight or know who he is, here are some quick facts. Watson turned Pro in 2006 bringing his background of Muay-Thai and traditional Boxing to the cages of Mixed Martial Arts. and fights at what is believe is a realistic weight of 185 pounds (Middleweight) for his frame. His current record stands at 13 – 4. However if you are wondering why you haven’t bumped in to the big Gorilla at your local shops, it is down to the fact that these days he trains and spends most of his year in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

However could 2011 be a turning point in the career of Tom Watson?

If any of you follow the popular social outlets such as Twitter or Facebook that give us 24 hour access to the sport we love, you will no doubt like me see the many ‘@’ messages towards Dana White or the UFC demanding that they finally sign Tom Watson and finally get him fighting in the big show with todays biggest stars.

One of the benefits of being the the writer of this little piece,is that  I get to air my opinion on this matter, and an even bigger benefit is that there is nothing we MMA fans love more than a good debate. Well, other than the heart pounding adrenaline that comes from watching our favorite athletes leave their heart and sometimes a few pints of there blood in the cage. Ask UK MMA fans about Watson and there is an overwhelming show of respect for him, but is there enough? There is however a split from where i stand. The hardcore Watson fans would love to see him in the UFC no matter what, and will endlessly tell you that it is his time and has been for a while now. My honest opinion is, I am on the side that says while Watson is a great fighter, (he has achieved Knock-Out of the Night, with a solid head kick to Travis Galbraith at MFC 24 and of course the Knock-Out up kick that the ‘Kong’ fans will always remember.) I like most have great respect for him, but personally think he has to be careful at this potential turning point in his career. For me, I would love to see Watson get in to the US organizations, and I can bet by me saying ‘US’ instead of UFC you know what I am about to say.

Starting in an organization like Bellator Fighting Championships or Strikeforce with it’s ever growing talented fighters in my opinion would be the best option for him, as it would give him the chance to find his feet and prove him self against some of the best in the world and get some more mainstream exposure without the huge pressure that would be a UFC debut. For example a 3 or 5 fight Bellator or Strikeforce contract is what he needs. To see if he can handle what are known to be the best in the world and give him the room to adapt to what is in reality a very different game and pool to the UK organizations. As I was saying the UFC comes with such pressure to perform, and while the few fight upstarts can come in with nothing to lose and leave it all on the line. I would hate to see Watson finally getting the UFC start we have all been waiting for and end up being remembered alongside the likes of Kimbo Slice or worse the two fights and gone Todd Duffee.

While all these fighters left under different circumstances unfortunately they are remembered for ending their UFC careers very much quicker than people thought after only a few fights.

If Watson can rise up in a US organization that comes with less pressure, where the grim reaper maybe sits a few rows further back than the ring-side seats he gets at the UFC. Then i think with his skills and after a few fights he can really up his game and compete well against the fighters that currently reside in some of the top US camps. Then unfortunately for a certain Mr Dana White, the Blackberry he is famously glued to will be going non-stop, vibrating with Twitter messages from the sea of fans around the world that have jumped on-board to get our very home grown primate into the UFC. Good luck to Tom and we all know this will be another spectacular year for the sport we all love.

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