By Scott Lewis and George Adamia
Burt Watson has been in the fight business for 35 years and over 300 fights as a site coordinator and consultant but this Saturday night, June 15th will be a first for him when MMA Live presents its debut show at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
“I’ve never coordinated or orchestrated an event that carried my name, my brand and the work that I do,” says Watson, who is promoting MMA Live under the Burt Watson Promotions banner.
“I’ve just become very excited about what is developing and how it developed,” Watson says. “I’m very proud to see and hear how excited some of the fighters are to be fighting for me on my first promotion and I think that’s very genuine. ”
The main event of MMA Live pits “Know Way” Jose Caceras (14-8-1 pro record) against Mike Lilly (5-5). Caceras holds the distinction of being the only fighter to hold a win over current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, along with a victory over the late Corey Hill, another UFC veteran.
“I know that (Lilly) is a wrestler, I know that he’s gonna want to take me down and keep me down,” says Caceras, who is training out of Freedom Fighters MMA in Miami. “We expect him to try to take me down, we have prepared for that. We will utilize our superior standup and look for the finish.”
Lilly is on a two-fight win streak heading into Saturday night’s marquee matchup, having beaten both Leo Valdivia (at Titan FC 50) and Tomas Lejsek (at XFN 13) by unanimous decisions to go 2-0 in 2018 after taking a 22-month-long break from fighting.
“Wherever the fight goes, I’ll finish it there,” says Lilly, fighting out of MMA Masters. “I’m ready to stand or get the takedown and ground-and-pound for the finish.”
Other featured fights on Saturday night’s MMA Live card include Wascar Cruz (9-6) vs Edwin Sarria (5-2), and an intriguing battle of rising unbeaten fighters when Olivier Murad (3-0) faces off against Shawn Brown (2-0), who is coming a Fight of the Night performance and win over previously unbeaten Gabriel Barletta back in November.
All of Murad and Brown’s pro wins have come by stoppage before the end of regulation time.
Also in action on the MMA Live undercard are local favorites Gabriel “Stunna” Varona and “The Colombian Necktie” Jose Andres Cortes.
For Watson, this card is not only the beginning of a new fight show, it’s also the start of a new career path for one of the more recognizable voices of the MMA scene. When he calls out his famous “we rolllnnn baby!” pre-fight line on Saturday night, it won’t be hidden backstage. This time, it will be front and center as the promoter under the bright lights of the Hard Rock.
“Instead of the direction of sitting down and retirement, my career has taken another road,” Watson says. “And I’m definitely following the bricks baby!!!