Bantamweight meets T.J. Dillashaw on Wednesday’s main card
OMAHA, Neb. – As the UFC bantamweight division continues to develop, Walel Watson is looking to carve out his lane amongst his peers.
The Team Hurricane Awesome fighter is only two fights into his UFC career, and coming off a split-decision loss to Yves Jabouin, a victory over “The Ultimate Fighter” alum T.J. Dillashaw is what he’ll need to make traction.
“The Gazelle” squares off against Dillashaw tonight at UFC on Fuel TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger in Omaha, Neb., and he spoke to HeavyMMA about the matchup.
“I have been working on my strength and wrestling,” Watson said. “I know Dillashaw is a good wrestler, and I have to make sure he doesn’t get any easy takedowns. I think the more I frustrate him, the more mistakes he’s going to make. I need to keep my distance right and do what I’m supposed to do. It’s going to be a great fight. I’m going in there to lay it all on the line. This fight gets finished, and I’m never going to leave it in the judges’ hands again.
“It was one of those things against Jabouin. I didn’t finish the fight, and that’s the biggest thing I think I could have done differently. I think I did everything right except for that. I left the fight in the judges’ hands, and that is 100 percent my fault. I learned a lot from that fight and it’s not going to happen again.”
Dillashaw’s wrestling was on full display during his time on “The Ultimate Fighter,” and as he continues to train with teammates Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez, his transition into a mixed martial artist continues. While wrestling is his opponent’s greatest strength, Watson believes he has the more well-rounded skill set and it will be the deciding factor on fight night.
“I think the matchup is mixed martial arts vs. wrestling,” Watson said. “I really consider myself a martial artist at the end of the day. I’m not going into this fight thinking jiu-jitsu or boxing – I’m looking at it all. Going into this fight, I have to be prepared to get out of any bad position.
“I work on my jiu-jitsu two or three times a day. I never go a day without rolling. I love jiu-jitsu. It’s part of my life and who I am. I don’t have to be on my back to hit submissions because I can hit them from anywhere.”
While Dillashaw is the immediate obstacle standing in Watson’s way, he has his eyes on the gold at the top of the UFC bantamweight division. He understands a victory in Omaha will not propel him into contention, but it will get him one step closer to achieving his goal.
“I’m always extra motivated when I’m going into a fight because the way I see it, every fight gets me closer to a shot at the title,” Watson said. “I have my mind on the bigger picture at the moment, and that is to be the champion of the bantamweight division. A win over T.J. won’t put me into title contention just yet, but it’ll definitely get my name out there.”