Titan FC’s Walel “The Gazelle” Watson on Anthony Gutierrez: “I Want to Shut His Mouth Up”
Titan Fighting Championship bantamweight Walel “The Gazelle” Watson got a good taste of the big show—he went 1-3 in the UFC, winning in his debut by TKO before dropping three fights in a row, including a unanimous decision loss to current bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw—and the 30-year-old from El Paso, Texas is determined to make it back before he calls it a day on his career.
According to the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and Team Hurricane Awesome member, the first thing he had to do was reacquaint himself with his strengths.
“It was about getting back to what I was good at with Ricky Martinez and Eddie Bravo,” he says. “Somehow I’d drifted away from that and they settled me back down and started making me focus on my jiu-jitsu again.”
Watson cites a loss of focus on his greatest in-cage skill as the main reason why he ceded what he considers the most pivotal fight thus far in his career—a loss that saw him go 2-3 before rebounding with a third-round rear-naked choke submission in his Titan debut against William Joplin back in May.
““What I learned from that fight with TJ is that I’m not a wrestler,” he laughs. “Going into that camp, I worked so much anti-wrestling in the weeks leading up, and at the end of the day this is a kid that’s wrestled his whole life and I’m somebody who’s spent a four or five week camp trying to prepare for that. That’s not what I should have focused on. I should have just honed my jiu-jitsu skills for bad positions I was going to be in—prepare for that, not just takedown defense, takedown defense and takedown defense, because once that didn’t work, then what? I didn’t have an answer at that time.”
At 5’11”, the aptly named “Gazelle” towers over much of his 135 pound competition, however he won’t hold much of a height and reach advantage over his Titan FC 30: Magalhaes vs. Brilz opponent, Anthony Gutierrez, who stands at a comparable 5’10”. Watson considers fighting someone similarly built more boon than detriment, surprisingly.
“I’m pretty excited to fight a guy that’s close to my height because that means it’s not going to be easy for him to just duck under and take me down when he doesn’t want to get hit anymore,” he says. “A lot of times that’s an issue when I’m fighting these guys at 135 that are 5’6” or 5’7”—as soon as they start getting hit, they don’t want to stand up anymore and the first opportunity they get to duck under a punch or kick and take me down, they’ll do that. That’s not going to be a factor in this fight. We’re both the same height. It’s going to take skill, technique and great timing from the both of us to get underneath one another and try to take each other down.”
Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez is best known for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 18: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate, the first and thus-far only co-ed season of the long-running mixed martial arts reality series. He joined fellow cast mate Cody Bollinger in TUF infamy when he failed to make weight for his scheduled fight against David Grant—a regretful blunder that prompted the first fightless episode since TUF 3 back in 2006. He since returned to the Titan cage (in which he earned his entire 5-0 professional record), earning a first-round triangle choke submission against Charles DuBray back in February.
Upon the announcement of their fight, the mouthy submission specialist began calling Walel Watson out on Twitter.
“He’s just another dude that’s in my way,” Watson says dismissively. “If anything, I want to shut his mouth up because I know he’s out there running his mouth about me. He tweeted me personally, told me my technique was weak, that I’m easy money, he’s going to finish me, this and that, and I’m just like, ‘Alright…’ We ended up getting in a little shouting match back and forth on Twitter and then it hit me: ‘I’m not going to get sucked into this guy’s game. This is somebody who’s obviously afraid of you. He has to talk smack to you just to get you riled up, to get under your skin so you’re not on your game. You’re there trying to hurt them, trying to kill them, you’re not thinking about the fight itself and now you’re out of your game, gas out, have an adrenaline dump—all of that stuff.’ As soon as I caught on to what he was doing, I was just like, ‘You know what, we’re going to fight, bro. We don’t need to talk shit back and forth to each other. I told him I’d see him at the fight and haven’t spoken to him since.”
Besides, he continues, Gutierrez isn’t really even on his level.
“I don’t think he’s got more experience than me as far as fighting in the UFC. He fought in The Ultimate Fighter, in the house. He fought against other regional guys. I actually got to fight in the UFC. I was fighting guys who were already in the UFC and some of them went through The Ultimate Fighter, had beaten top level competition and then were fighting me.”
More than anything, Watson is eager to show off some shiny new BJJ techniques, some of which promises have never been seen before in the cage—or anywhere else, for that matter.
“I’m definitely going to open Pandora’s Box on September 26th,” he says. “I’m going to show you some really awesome stuff you haven’t ever seen before—stuff the jiu-jitsu community itself hasn’t even seen yet.”
Walel Watson is scheduled to face Anthony Gutierrez on the televised portion of Titan FC 30: Magalhaes vs. Brilz, which will take place at the Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, Texas on September 26. It will air on the CBS Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET, with the prelims streaming live on the CBS Sports website at 8:30 p.m. ET. Click HERE for more information.
(Slider image credit: MMAJunkie.com)
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