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Beloved former UFC staffer Burt Watson starts own MMA promotion

Burt Watson (EL, MMA Fighting) Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Now we’re really rolling.

Burt Watson, the beloved former UFC backstage supernova, is starting his own MMA promotion, it was announced Tuesday in a press release. Burt Watson Promotions will begin holding events this spring in South Florida under the name “We Rollnnn MMA,” a nod to his famous catchphrase. The promotion will run its first event June 15 at Hard Rock Event Center at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.

“I want to give fans a world-class product, and preparing each fighter for the bright lights of the next level is what I do,” Watson said in a press release. “The combination of competitive fights and great fan support is the only way to get that done, and I’m excited to start this new chapter.”

Watson, 69, was the UFC’s site coordinator for 14 years. He was dubbed by Joe Rogan as “The Babysitter to the Stars” and is also the former manager to boxing legend Joe Frazier. The Philadelphia native has been part of the combat sports industry for decades. Watson previously worked in a similar site coordinator role with the now-defunct Alliance MMA partnership.

Now, he’s trying his hand as a promoter with an emphasis on building the future stars of the sport.

“Every fighter started somewhere, and every champion was once a prospect,” Watson said. “My goal with Burt Watson Promotions is to introduce these future superstars to the public, and with my years of experience, show them what it takes to compete on the highest level of the sport.”

Watson was essentially responsible for every aspect of fight week behind the scenes in the UFC, from the time fighters arrived in the host city until the Octagon was taken apart and moved out of the arena. He is the pioneer of the modern day operations system for the sport. In boxing, Watson worked with the likes of Frazier, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez.

In 2015, Watson abruptly quit the UFC after a confrontation with a UFC executive during UFC 184 fight week in Los Angeles. it was a turn of events that stunned many fighters and fans. Publicly, Watson had come a cult hero to the promotion’s hardcore supporters.

Watson told MMA Fighting in 2017 that he held no ill will toward the UFC.

“No, I don’t,” Watson said. “And they say that time has a way of healing. Time has gone and I have still been able to be relevant in the sport and be relevant with the people that I work around. I haven’t had the time to really stick around and think about that situation. Initially, when it happened the way it did and because I made the decisions that I made, I didn’t really expect anyone to come to me to make it right if I made that decision.

“I made that decision and I stuck to that decision. I didn’t expect anything other than the way it did. Am I bitter or do I think about it? Not even a little bit.”

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