Walel Watson (11-7) is a featherweight product of Team Hurricane Awesome under the tutelage of the outspoken, unorthodox, yet incredibly effective trainer Manolo Hernandez. Watson lost his first pro fight but went undefeated in his next 7 having not a single fight reach the 3rd round and receiving a 4 fight stint in the UFC as a prize.
He will now find himself under the bright lights of the Titan Fighting Promotion banner on its next event May 16th.
However, before he attempts to claim his 12th victory in Oklahoma, fans should have some insight on his origins including a onesie wearing trainer, a 2 time number 1 contender training partner, a bout with a current UFC #1 contender and 4.3 forty yard dash during his years as a football athlete.
Current UFC fighter Robert Peralta (17-4-1) and him not knowing the first rule about Fight Club can be attributed with Walel’s interest in the sport.
“Rob Peralta got me into it. I couldn’t play college football anywhere because of my size” Walel is listed at 5’11, 141. “So no big school wanted me. I went to his garage and it was like the movie Fight Club to me, a mini warehouse that was all matted up and we all beat the crap out of each other. That was the moment I knew I was in love.”
Watson describes his fighting as a sort of crafty boxer type that has an un-quenching thirst for the finish, “I’m really scrappy and elusive, I like to come in all sorts of angles. I’m a killer, all I want to do is finish, I’m going into the fight looking for the finish. What hole will this guy leave open, just let him open it and I’ll finish, finish, finish.”
His goals thus far have been met with him consistently in the winning column; 11 fights and 11 finishes.
Even in his UFC debut at UFC on Versus 6, he stopped Joseph Sandoval by TKO in just over a minute into their bout. However he lost his encore via controversial split decision to Yves Jabouin at UFC 140. He then found himself in the octagon against the current UFC number 1 bantamweight contender, TJ Dillishaw.
“T.J. Dillashaw was the only guy that actually beat me soundly, I had a bad weight cut, but I’m always looking for the kill.”
Walel’s nickname is “The Gazelle” and just like the animal or the machine endorsed by Tony Little, Walel lives up to the moniker of being quick on his feet.
“The name comes from playing football, my MMA teammates looked me up online and it was me running the 40 yard dash.”
Watson ran a 4.3.
To put that into perspective, only 17 players in the entire history of the NFL have ran that fast.
“I was so small though, and got blasted so hard and had to sit out for quarters at a time. I hated it at first because I’m a predator, not a prey, ever since I saw my first fight and how my feet moved, I’ve owned up to the nickname.”
Walel trains under Manolo Hernandez, who apparently is a pajama aficionado.
“Manolo is a character, first time I saw him he was in a picture with a leopard onesie. He’s a ton of fun but he’s very very informative, he can make you laugh even if you’re cutting weight and dying, he’s definately a guy you want to be around.”
Walel isn’t the only warrior Manolo is molding, he’s already got another top tier competitor under his belt.
Liz Caramouche (9-5) has recieved 2 title shots, once in Strikeforce and the latter in the UFC.
“It’s an honor to train with Liz.” Says Walel, “I started 3 months ahead and we have a brother and sister rivalry but we all want what’s best for the other.”
Watson will be matched up with William Joplin (9-8) who began his career 2-8.
“It’ll be a good fight, he’s going to keep coming, he’s not looking for a way out, he’s on a 7 fight winning streak and he’s high on a wave and I’ll have to knock him right off.”
Watson will receive the opportunity to do so at The First Council Casino and Hotel in Newkirk, Oklahoma on May 16th, when the “Fans and Fighters First” promotion delivers the much anticipated 28th edition of Titan Fighting Championships: Brilz vs Davis.
MMA fans can witness the fighters, including Walel Watson vs William Joplin as part of a 6 fight main card presentation on CBS Sports.