Kingdom MMA chat to Tom "Kong" Watson ahead of his fight at UFC 163by Ben Heather @benheather
In the early hours of Friday morning Kingdom MMA caught up with Tom Watson. We discussed everything from his last fight, his next fight at UFC 163 in Brazil next Saturday, his recent run in on twitter with Michael Bisping, twitter trolls and even his opinion on whether Suarez will stay at Liverpool.
Next Saturday at UFC 163 live from the HSBC Arena in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil "Kong" will be fighting former UFC Middleweight contender Thales Leites. He will aim to try and make it back to back wins for the first time in his UFC career. Kong made his debut in the UFC in September 2012 where he lost a split decision against Brad Tavares but in Nottingham. That performance was then forgotten about as Kong won for the first time in the UFC by knocking out Stanislav Nedkov in the second round.
Ben: Last time out you were in the fight which in my opinion is the fight of the year so far. Do you feel extra pressure coming off a great performance?
Watson: Not really, that's how i try to go out there and fight every time. I think the fight before that against Tavares was a good fight but I think that went under the radar a little bit because it was a loss. I think the Ninja fight before that was a good fight, the Marshman one similar back to fighting in Cage Rage and MFC. I just think I am always in those type of fights really.
Ben: The atmosphere in Wembley for that fight was incredible I have never been in a crowd and heard the crowd like as loud as it was for that fight. Did you notice it at all and if so did it spur you on in to the second round and ultimately to get the win?
Watson: Yeah I did notice it and I don't usually notice the crowd that much. Obviously I have fought at Wembley before and headlined but I didn't really expect that much noise on the prelims. Even the atmosphere at the weigh ins i think it was a pretty loud reception at the weigh ins for that fight. I wouldn't say it necessarily spurred me on, you hear the noise but I don't get that caught up in to it. But it definitely makes it more exciting to be able to compete in that sort of atmosphere.
Ben: Like you have said before you like to put on exciting fights do you aim to be known as an exciting fighter? Is that important to you?
Watson: Yeah that's the main thing to me really. I think a lot of people get too carried away about it all, I see a lot of fighters come out and say this is my job and its better for me to win blah blah blah but not necessarily be exciting. I disagree I was a fan of the fight game before I ever fought and went to a lot of events and its pretty expensive to go to. I have a lot of friends and family that go to them and its not just the ticket prices that are expensive but the whole occasion going down there, most people stay down there and if you don't put on an exciting fight is it worth spending that money. So if I can put on those kind of fights its what I want to do.
Ben: Would you rather be in an exciting fight and possibly lose or a boring fight which you can guarantee a win?
Watson: I have said that before I came to the UFC, but the UFC put so much emphasis on winning that its difficult but I would still probably be in a much more exciting fight to be honest. For me its not really about doing this for the money, its not really about any of that. Its about enjoyment and if its a boring fight i don't really enjoy it so I would sooner enjoy the fight myself.
Ben: How has the camp gone for this fight?
Watson: Its gone pretty well, obviously for every fight you have a few injuries I think if you don't then you haven't really had that good a camp. If you come in 100% fresh then your just gonna get knocks. Ive probably had a 10 week camp for it so its been as good as can be expected. Its going to be a tougher fight and I'm excited to be going to Brazil and fight there in front of a reasonably hostile crowd I think with me fighting a guy from Brazil. I just need to lose the weight and I will be ready to go.
Ben: Where have you done your camp for this fight?
Watson: I have been in California at Mark Munoz's gym. I was helping him a lot for his fight with Tim Boetsch and there is a lot of guys out here. Chael Sonnen has just come out here in the last week. There is a lot of good wrestlers for me to work with out here.
Ben: Leites has won most of his fights by submission have you focused on your take down defence and your ground game for this fight?
Watson: Yeah obviously that's his speciality, he is super dangerous on the ground so he is not just a good grappler he finishes. Most of his wins he has actually submitted his opponent and finished them so obviously I need to focus on that. The longer you fight, the longer you're in the sport I have had a lot of fights where I have thought this guy is going to do this so I need to do that but then you get in to the fight and he does something else so really I train mostly the same for most fights now. A lot of striking, a lot of wrestling, a lot of grappling it doesn't really change for any fight really.
Ben: Do you think you can be the first person to knock out Leites? Anderson Silva couldn't do it, can you?
Watson: Yeah that's my intention. Obviously Anderson fought him over 5 rounds, it wasn't a great fight but he didn't finish him. He has fought some good names and I don't really think its enough for me to go in there and just win the fight. I need to go in there and knock him out and I see it happening. I know if I catch him at some point in the fight he is going to go to sleep.
Ben: How do you feel going to fight in Brazil? In front of a very partisan crowd.
Watson: I have fought in Canada against people and I think my mind is pretty good and I am not bothered by that kind of thing but it will be a loud crowd but I would sooner fight in front of 200-300,000 people than 5 so the more people the better.
Ben: You touched upon fighting in Canada there, the last time you travelled to fight a foreign fighter in his home country was against Travis Galbraith and you got possibly the best knockout of your career, would you say you thrive on the pressure of being the foreign fighter? (For those who haven't seen that fight the link is here and its well worth a watch)
Watson: Well I don't really think it makes that much difference in my experience by the time you get there. When you fight in the UFC the fighters generally get the same hotel and the same kind of schedule so although you are in Brazil your still really in a sort of bubble with the UFC. Your in that media circle or at the hotel, I'm not really going to see a lot of Brazil. The only real difference is obviously there is going to be a huge crowd who isn't really supporting me. So as long as its loud it gets me excited so we will see what happens, I'm pretty excited by it.
Ben: Having been in that fight can you draw any comparisons for what you are expecting from the crowd next weekend in Brazil?
Watson: Well the fight in Canada was a similar thing, when I fought the guy everybody was really against me and then because the fight was a pretty exciting ending and a good finish the crowd kinda took to me. They didn't really know what to make to the entrance, I don't know what Brazil will think to that either. I think Brazil just like to watch a fight so if its a good fight I put on, the type of fights I usually put on then they will appreciate that. As far as the world goes I think they are right up there with one of the biggest of the fight community.
Ben: When do you leave for Brazil?
Watson: I fly out of California on Monday and I get to Brazil on Tuesday so five days before the fight.
Ben: Recently you gave an interview and mentioned Michael Bisping's name. He seems to have taken offense to it and went on twitter to tell you not to use his name to try get ahead in your career. Do you think it has all been blown out of proportion?
Watson: Well I don't really know what happened, to be honest they asked me about Leites saying is it an easy fight and all I said was he has fought for the title. If you take Bisping for example the guys he has fought who have fought for the title he has never beaten any of them so that was just referencing the fact that how can it be an easy fight if the guy has fought for the Middleweight title. Bisping obviously didn't like it. Whatever, doesn't really bother me you know nobody can obviously mention his name. Its not allowed you need approval from him first, so whatever he wants to go on about it doesn't really bother me.
Ben: After Bisping sent the tweet to you it seemed every troll on twitter was tweeting you, did you have fun reading the messages as some of the comments you replied with were brilliant.
Watson: Yeah its just because half the people on twitter I swear they don't want to be abusive but that's there way to get a response. I think that they think that if they say something normal they wont get a response so mostly I go and look at peoples timelines and if they are just abusing everybody then I don't really respond to them but if its just specific abuse to me then I find it quite funny so I enjoy that type of thing. I don't really get wound up by it so it makes a bit of a laugh to my day to be honest.
Ben: Lastly, I believe you are a Liverpool fan. Do you think Luis Suarez has played his last game for Liverpool?
Watson: You know what, I think he probably has. I hope he hasn't, you know obviously he has had a few problems at the club but really if you ask me what they would have done over the past couple of seasons without him I don't really think it would have been a lot so I think they will really struggle if he leaves. They got a lot of really good younger players coming through I have been talking about Sterling since he was about 16 but in pre season they got another couple of youngsters who look pretty good. I don't really like it when players leave all the time I think it takes a few years so hopefully on that basis I hope he stays.
Kingdom MMA would like to thank Tom for his time and all of us at the site will be cheering Tom on in Brazil.