It was the opening preliminary bout of UFC Live: Cruz vs Johnson. And what better way to start a bantamweight championship card than with a bantamweight fight between two new-comers.
Walel “the Gazelle” Watson (9-2) is an exceptional bantam weight, because at 5’11 Watson is like the Anderson Silva or the Jon Jones of the bantamweight division. Standing on the other side of the cage was 5’7 Joseph Sandoval (6-0), who wears the bandanna and sports the red Mohawk just like Dan Hardy!
On paper Sandoval has the wrestling advantage, but Watson has 7 of his (then) 8 wins via submissions. Both fighters decided to stand and bang and Watson quickly showed his superior reach and affinity towards leg work by snapping up lightning fast high right kicks from many different angles. With 10 Kicks, 7 of them directed at the head, 2 leg kicks and 1 unintentional groin shot, the fight was over at the 1:17 mark.
Soon after recovering from the groin shot around the 1 min mark, Sandoval ducked his head to the left to get on the inside and attempt to land a right hook from the south paw stance. Simultaneously Watson landed a flush counter head kick that was the beginning of the end for Sandoval who was rushed to the ground with strikes and Mario Yamasaki was forced to step in for Sandoval’s safety.
At 27 years old Watson is at a perfect age as a prospect. His head kicks and submission game attest to the versatility of his fight style. I’d like to see him fight a wrestler to test his grappling pedigree and ground game on his next outing in the UFC.
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