FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Auburn, Maine (May 6, 2022)
In attempting to talk smack about her latest professional bout with New England Fights, Glory “The Fury” Watson exhibited the irresistible combination of rage and respectfulness that have made her a fast fan favorite from Fort Kent to Key West.
“What I would like to see and what I am going to do my best to put forward is emotional investment, showing that I am meant to be there, that I’m supposed to be there, and anyone that’s in the cage with me is kinda just in the way,” Watson said to host Steve Domenico on a recent episode of The Room Podcast. “That sounds really bad. It sounds so mean. I don’t mean that in a mean way. I wish the best of luck to my opponent. But that’s where I want to be. It’s what I want to do, and the person in front of me is the person in the way.”
Watson (2-1) will face Natalie “Natty Ice” Schlesinger (1-0) at NEF 47: “The Battle of L/A” on Saturday, May 14 at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn, Maine. Opening bell time is 7 p.m.
The crowd-pleasing 27-year-old out of Brewer, Maine and Young’s MMA has devoted countless hours and boundless energy to her craft. In this fight camp, Watson has heard coach Chris Young emphasize the psychological angles of the cage.
“Coach and I have talked about it quite a bit, and what it’s all come down to is emotional investment,” Watson said. “If I show up and I’m really hesitant and I’m trying to do my best but I’m hesitant and don’t want to put too much forward, and then you lose, you have that regret, the regret that I could have been more, I could have done more. Instead of going out there and putting everything out there and … you do lose, but knowing you had nothing left. There’s nothing left you could have done. You did everything to the best of your ability. I think that I was so worried about being perfect in my fights before that, that I let that go, and I found that again. Just flip the switch and go.”
She started the process of reaching that epiphany in a kickboxing bout with Contender Series alumna Hilarie Rose at NEF 44: “Back in Black.” Watson was coming off a submission loss to Ariana Melendez and needed a confidence boost against an opponent with a lengthy, diverse background.
Even in a unanimous decision defeat, Watson dug down and walked away emboldened about her place in combat sports.
“It was just an amazing experience. I came out learning a lot about what I needed to do as a fighter, and it just kind of changed my perspective going against her,” Watson said. “I believe she made her pro debut in the same year I made my amateur debut if I remember correctly, so there’s a big gap in experience in that regard, but to go in there and to not be finished and to have been able to put together some good combinations myself, it’s humbling but it’s really nice to know that the hard work I’m putting in is actually going somewhere.”
Watson won both of her MMA bouts by rear naked choke since that evening, taking down New York’s Rebecca Bryggman last October and Michigan’s Alibeth Milliron at NEF 46: “Decade of Dominance.”
The most recent victory was a back-and-forth battle against another opponent with an extensive pro and amateur ledger. Milliron landed one haymaker that Watson described as a make-or-break moment in her development as a fighter.
“Overall, I think that was a fight that I really needed. There was a moment the commentators, they mention it,” Watson said. “I get hit with a punch, and then I get this huge smile on my face, and I just go. I remember in that moment I got hit with that and (saw a) flash of white light, and I’m like, ‘This is not how I want this fight to go.’ And that’s the time where you make the decision. You decide I’m either gonna continue to be on the receiving end of this, or I’m gonna step up and I’m gonna put forward what I have.”
Young has followed the familiar pattern of keeping Watson relatively in the dark about Schlesinger, whose pro debut was a win over Sandy Chheng that went to the scorecards.
Some details are available in a few keystrokes, however. In eight amateur fights, Schlesinger also left her fate in the judges’ hands every time. It’s a trend that raised Watson’s eyebrows and immediately earned her admiration.
“I say this in every single interview because it’s the truth. I don’t know as much as some fighters would like to know. Coach will watch everything … He puts together my game plan,” Watson said. “He doesn’t tell me, ‘We’re gonna strike in this fight.’ All of a sudden it’ll be like, ‘Whoa, we’re doing a lot of striking in this camp.’ I don’t have any idea. It just kinds builds very naturally in that regard. What I know of her is she’s very tough. If I remember correctly, every one of her fights has gone to a decision, so she definitely has a really good gas tank. I’m really excited about this one.”
Being a women’s mixed martial artist anywhere, but especially in the country’s extreme northeast corridor, means taking fights when and where you can get them, against whoever is the best available opponent in your weight class.
Watson said she has been willing to put at least one primary motivating factor on the back burner if it ensures that she can stay active.
“It’s very give-and-take. I understand that a lot of times it’s difficult to find women, and I also understand that women that do come up want to make money if they’re gonna fight,” Watson said. “For me this has never been about money. It will never be about money. I would rather take little to no purse and let my opponent get what they want to come up and take it from there. (NEF co-owner and matchmaker) Matt Peterson has been really good about working with me in that regard, and I’m incredibly grateful.”
Watson hopes every fight that her team selects for her gets her closer to her ultimate career goals, but she recognizes the need to control what she can control.
“There’s only so much I can do. I can only fight so many times, a certain opponent if we can get them and all of these things. You always want the eyes on you. Regardless of it’s the UFC or Bellator or Contender Series, you want those eyes on you, because it means that what you’re doing is something special. It means that you’re doing something amazing,” Watson said. “This fight is another fight that I want to stand out. I want to do something that makes people say, ‘Wow, Glory Watson is going to be something amazing,’ and I think that can happen with a lot of different caliber of opponents. And just like my upcoming opponent Natalie, I think it’s gonna be a major battle of wills in this one, especially because she does have the gas tank that she has.”
Gas tank has been an operative term in Watson’s past two fight camps.
Watson and Young travel every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, often hitting the highway for a round trip of four to five hours to work out with the likes of Jesse Erickson at Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Lewiston/Auburn, Jason Bell and Ryan Burgess at Famoso MMA in Rumford/Mexico, and Devin Powell at Nostos MMA over the state line.
“My training camps have been very different every single time, but this camp versus my last camp have been very similar. Right now, Young’s MMA is in the middle of a transition. We’re opening a new facility, and we don’t have the same team we had before. We don’t have the same bodies we had before is I guess a better way to put it, so I’ve been traveling a lot,” Watson said. “The guys and the girls at these places are phenomenal. It’s nice to have a team behind you even if it’s not your team, like I support them and they support me. When it comes down to it, we’re in it for our own gyms, but camaraderie is a huge thing for me, and I love the respect that is built through MMA. The relationship between gyms and fighters has grown a lot in this camp, which I think is really important.”
Those relationships extend to Watson’s fan base, which started with her large family and many friends but now extends to strangers and even former opponents.
Fighting all over Maine and venturing to New York and Florida has made Watson an increasingly beloved figure.
“I have a very loyal fan base. They’re a little bit kooky, and I love ’em all. That’s the beautiful part about fighting in New England is I have my family and the people from my gym, but then you have the people from Evolution where I fought Megan Rosado. The people from Evolution want to watch the progression of my career as well, so they’re on my side as slight fans or major fans in some cases,” she said. “Having a home base in New England MMA in general, it’s really great to have, and that’s why I think keeping all the New England fighters where everyone’s together is great. We can all be each other’s biggest fans.”
NEF 47: “The Battle of L/A” is the organization’s first appearance in Lewiston/Auburn since June 22, 2019, and its inaugural card on the opposite side of the river. NEF held 25 of its first 30 dockets in Lewiston. Tickets are on sale now at www.NewEnglandFights.com/Tickets.