Highly rated English middleweight Tom Watson will be facing UFC veteran Matt Horwich at BAMMA next month after his original opponent, Alex Reid, pulled out.
The fight with Reid, scheduled to take place on May 15, has been subject to intense scrutiny from the British media. Reid is not renowned so much for his fighting abilities as for having recently married a famous former topless model. He has been a regular feature in the British tabloids and had been filming a reality TV show about his preparation for the fight.
Less than a month before the fight Reid withdrew due to a knee injury much to the annoyance of his prospective opponent.
"It is now officially true, my fears have become reality. Alex Reid has pulled out of the fight with me. I am so angry at the way he has disrespected me in his behaviour," Watson wrote on his blog.
Watson had earlier predicted that Reid would pull out from the fight and believes he was under instruction from his celebrity wife, Jordan, to do so. He is dismissive about the MMA credentials of Reid who has not fought since 2007. "Does anyone in MMA care about Alex Reid? I don’t think so."
Watson was particularly upset because had Reid withdrawn from the fight a little earlier he would have had the opportunity to face former UFC title contender Jeremy Horn. Fortunately BAMMA were able to find a high caliber replacement for Reid and Watson will now be facing American Matt Horwich.
Horwich is a hugely experienced fighter and represents a much stiffer test for Watson than Reid, who has lost his last six fights, would have done. However, as Watson is quick to point out, he is no stranger to top quality opposition.
"Matt Horwich is a very tough guy, but most people don’t realize I fought Tulio Palhares, a UFC veteran in only my second fight and Daijieo Matsui, a guy who had fought in Pride 15 times, in my third fight," he says.
Watson is currently the No. 2 ranked middleweight in the UK and some are suggesting that, should he beat Horwich, he would move up to No. 1. However Watson is realistic about the rankings and feels that he still has a long way to go if he is to overtake the existing No. 1, Michael Bisping.
‘I don’t really buy that. I just think that’s disrespecting Bisping right now because he has fought Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, and Dennis Kang is his last three fights. If the opportunity arose for me to fight him (Bisping) of course I would take it. There is no reason for me not to."
The prospect of a middleweight "Battle of Britain" is still a long way off but Watson enhanced his cause considerably with a highlight reel KO of another Pride veteran, Travis Galbraith earlier this year. It was an impressive debut for Watson in his first fight for the Canadian organization MFC (Maximum Fighting Championships).
Watson has also been training in Canada and feels making the move from the UK has helped him to add another dimension to his game,
"In order to be great at your profession you have to surround yourself with the best. Training with Greg Jackson in Albuquerque and Firaz Zahabi in Montreal helps me to try and achieve my goals."
Horwich was fighting in the UFC as recently as 2009, dropping two decision losses to middleweight stand outs Ricardo Almeida and Dan Miller. Watson is currently one of the few remaining top ranked British fighters outside of the UFC a situation which a win against Horwich might help to rectify,
"The UFC is a fantastic advertisement for MMA. It would be an honour to fight for such an organisation," he says.
Watson has undergone a traumatic couple of weeks with Reid pulling out and the uncertainty over whether a suitable replacement would be found. However, he is still able to retain his sense of humor when asked to predict a possible outcome for the fight,
"I see myself knocking him out which no-one else has ever managed to do. Either that or he won’t turn up."
For more information about Tom Watson visit: www.tomkongwatson.com.
For more information about the BAMMA show on May 15 visit: www.bamma.net.