Surprisingly just 5 hours prior to UFC 119 and across the pond in the UK a fight took place in Birmingham, England that over-delivered in spades.
Alex Reid, a wash-out from the 9th season of The Ultimate Fighter (he lost to Dean Amasinger in the opening fights ... yeah, really) has been on a crazy journey since then. His entire history of celebrity is too long to go into detail and reads like TMZ's greatest hits but for better or worse he became the most famous MMA fighter in Britain by association to infamous glamour model Katie "Jordan" Price and winning Celebrity Big Brother which aired on Channel 4, one of the UK's main terrestrial networks. For context, the first episode of Celebrity Big Brother featuring Alex Reid drew 5.8 million viewers - 1 million more than Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson on CBS in a country with less than half the USA's population.
What's important to note though is Alex Reid was a hated man throughout the country. He wasn't a Professional Athlete in Mixed Martial Arts, he was a low down no good "Cage Fighter" who dated and married a woman both the public and news media had turned on because of an ugly divorce that ended what was viewed as a fairytale marriage - at least by the low standards tabloid journalism affords.
He had also become even more of a joke in the MMA community, an 8-8-2-1NC record and was chastised for being a bad representation of MMA getting absurd publicity from the mainstream when fighters like Michael Bisping, Dan Hardy, Ross Pearson and John Hathaway are in obscurity by comparison. But he isn't a bad person. Naive and a bit of an idiot, but not bad. He did what he felt he had to with a nation against him: he fought back.
This would be Alex Reid's first MMA fight in 2 years, and his first since becoming a national celebrity and many in the MMA community - and even those outside it who hated Reid because of Price - were banking on Tom Watson to knock him senseless and give him a beating. Watson, you see, was a 'real' MMA fighter. He trains and focuses on fighting while Reid does photo shoots and adverts. No one expected Reid to mount any offence or make it past the first or second round. But Reid was serious for this fight, a fight that was already postponed because of a knee injury Reid suffered causing the public to scrutinise him even more.
What we ended up with was a 5 round dogfight full of heart and grit. When the dust settled some were quick to call it Britain's own Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar moment. Neither fight was technically sound by any stretch of the imagination. Both fights were in reality very sloppy. Both fights though had a lot on the line for the fighters involved and a lot of emotion throughout.
Combined with the raw energy of the crowd and the story leading up to the fight Alex Reid vs Tom Watson was by far the Fight of the Night last Saturday, and one of the best fights of the year.
Rounds 2-5 after the jump