Later tonight, former Dunkirk resident Jeff Watts will climb back into the octagon, as he will be a part of the undercard at Cage Titans 19, in Plymouth, Mass., where he will take on Max Barrett in a bantamweight (135 pounds) matchup.
"Max is a big dude with a ton of skill," Watts said. "He's a well-rounded striker with a solid ground game. He cuts down to 135 pounds while standing 6-feet tall."
Tonight's fight represents the first time Watts will be back in action since a May 5, 2012 loss to Rico DiSciullo at Cage Titans 8.
Pictured is former Dunkirk resident Jeff Watts, left and his coach Lah Thao, after Watts won the Second Annual Rising Son Submission Grappling Tournament, in May 2013.
"I'm a warrior," Watts, who lost the fight by a knockout in the second round, said. "I was knocked down and it took a while to get back up. However, I'm finally up and ready to go."
Watts, who now resides in Wausau, Wis., and works by day as a shoe salesman and customer service representative, said it was an easy decision to get back in the fight game.
"Promoter Michael Polvere just made me an offer I couldn't resist," Watts said. "Not to mention that CageTitan FC, which is based in Plymouth, Mass., is one of the most legit and awesome promotions a fighter can become associated with. This business is full of so many bums, that when you find that diamond in the rough, you should just polish it."
Watts' record stands at 4-2 as an amateur MMA fighter and 1-1 in Muay Thai.
"I want one or two more good showings and then I plan on transitioning into the professional ranks," Watts said. "This fight game thing isn't a joke and so many people rush it. You can't rush the technique and skills required to succeed in this sport."
Since moving to Wausau, Watts has been working with his head coach, Lah Thao, at Rising Son MMA.
"After my last loss, I moved back to the Midwest to train with the guys who helped me evolve as a person and a fighter," he said before giving thanks to his other coaches Ray, Dave and Jayson. "I trained with them back when I started this journey almost five years ago.
"They've helped me evolve as a person," Watts continued. "I've grown on so many fronts in life that I can only tell you that we're a family. We speak up when another is slipping, whether it be in the gym or outside (the gym)."
Mixed martial arts combines many styles of martial arts into one sport. And Watts was somewhat reluctant to name the area where he feels he excels the most.
"People keep telling me I'm some great grappler," he said. "I'm a humble guy who comes from humble beginnings. I personally think I'm just super good at catching people off guard."
Like most sports, catching people off guard in MMA is where fighters can find their greatest success. But it is obviously something you cannot plan for, because there is no guarantee that every fighter will have a momentary lack of focus. So Watts knows he needs to be ready in other ways if he plans on being successful tonight, but he did not mention any specific plan of attack.
"I don't know that you can game plan besides working around your opponent's strengths," he said. "I feel that most of the time, game plans go out the window after you get into a heated exchange."
Besides working his day job, Watts has also covered some fights in his area for Cagepotato.com. And when he was asked to describe himself as a fighter, Watts was ready with a critique.
"I'd probably say that I'm a hell of an entertaining guy, who doesn't let the opinions of others in the MMA community bother him too much," he said. "I'd say that I've got this epic ability to just catch an opponent in a compromising situation."
Win or lose, this will not be Watts' last fight. And win or lose, he knows he will have fought for a purpose.
"I just want to say this fight, regardless of the outcome, is dedicated to all prisoners of war we've both lost and rescued," Watts said, before thanking his friends and family, the people at Cattoo's, Scramblestuff.com and Cagepotato.com for all of the support he's received in the weeks leading up to the fight. "You guys aren't forgotten."