(BAMMA 3: Reid vs. Watson. Courtesy of BAMMA)
There is an MMA event on the horizon that is sure to garner unprecedented mainstream media coverage, publicity and crossover appeal in the UK. No, it’s not the world’s biggest organisation, the UFC, presenting a line-up of elite superstars. Instead the immense drawing power of current “flavour of the month” and Celebrity Big Brother winner Alex Reid will be put to the test as he returns to the cage. His relationship with model and TV star Katie “Jordan” Price has seen an abundance of column inches and his ‘likeable idiot’ persona on the British version of the celebrity reality show Big Brother saw a whole new breed of fans hop on the “Reidernator” bandwagon.
Reid is a well versed and competent fighter despite the less than stellar 8-8-1 (1 No Contest) record he sports. He is a ten year veteran of MMA competition, besting ‘Lightning’ Lee Murray in controversial fashion in the early, unrecorded stages of his career and compiling six wins and a No Contest in his first seven outings.
Despite this, Reid’s professional record depicts a very different scene – six straight losses, not counting the decision he dropped to Dean Amasinger in an exhibition bout in the preliminary stages of ‘The Ultimate Fighter 9’. His losses came largely in the defunct Cage Rage promotion to top tier talent that skew the public’s perception of Reid’s abilities. UFC veterans Xavier Foupa-Pokam, Dave Menne and Jason Tan took home decision victories whilst Murilo Rua and Tony Fryklund stopped the Londoner.
With the calibre of competition he has faced engrained in his mind, Reid won’t be fazed by the task of squaring off with the UK’s number two Tom “Kong” Watson despite the disparity in rankings; Reid not making the top ten, nor being close to doing so.
Watson has recently signed for the Canadian promotion MFC and trains out of Greg Jackson’s gym with the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Rashad Evans and Nate Marquardt. He made his move a permanent fixture to further his career, telling us “I have given up everything to become the best fighter I can and there is no doubt in my mind it will all pay off in the end.”
Of the bout with Reid, he also noted,
“I am definitely motivated. Alex is a highly underestimated fighter due to his record and last six or seven fights, and I see this as a tough fight.”
With the spotlight on UK MMA being firmly fixed on May 15th – should Reid still be relevant in the fickle world of celebrity culture by then – it is reassuring to know that there will be a good tussle heading the bill but also, if the first two events are anything to go by, a reliable and relevant undercard. BAMMA II highlighted BJJ sensation Gunnar Nelson, top domestic lightweight Rob Sinclair and flyweight Billy Harris amongst its solid roster.
The focus will be largely on one man though and despite his current commercial appeal, Reid is adamant he is training hard and focused. While the limelight only lasts so long, pride is forever and neither man will want to take a backwards step when they take to the BAMMA cage on May 15th at the LG Arena, Birmingham.
Tickets are available as of tomorrow, Friday 19th February. Head to www.BAMMA.net for more information.