How Josh Watson used chance to take down Greg Hardy and why it meant so much

Josh Watson is not disillusioned. He knows who he is and recognizes that the sand in the hourglass of a martial arts career runs out with ups and downs.

There are cans and shoulds, but he is at peace, especially after what happened on February 18th in Albuquerque, NM. Perhaps there will be a swan song ahead of his hometown of Portland, Maine, or his adopted home of Las Vegas, which will be the cherry on top of a satisfying adventure. But anything else Watson thinks will pale in comparison to the validation he felt as he toppled the ex-NFLer.

“I still have a fight camp in my body, but I still have tons of fights in my heart,” Watson told MMA Junkie two days after the fight, his voice hoarse, presumably from the celebration that ensued when he saw the former NFL player knocked out and UFC fighter Greg Hardy.

Watson, 40, returned to work in the Las Vegas bar industry last week with a smile on his face and perhaps a little more notoriety among his peers. Oh, and he might have a broken arm. But this is not new. Watson says he suspects he broke it at training camp. If he has his other few injuries examined by the doctor this week, he will “ask about it”.

After the knockout, Watson saw his face everywhere. His name? Not as much. Many of the posts and headlines only mentioned Hardy, not Watson. But again, Watson understands.

“It’s funny because all my friends are like, ‘It’s kind of funny because all I see is Greg Hardy’s ugly face and how Greg Hardy slept.’ They’re like, ‘You gotta say Greg Hardy was slept by Josh Watson,’ all the headlines,” Watson said.

Being overlooked was a big part of what made this so special for Watson. While the people around BKFC were behind him, the general public largely didn’t know who he was. That changed with a series of punches. Watson found it particularly satisfying considering who it was aimed at, but the primary reason may be different than the general public.

“I remember seeing Greg Hardy in the UFC Contender Series,” Watson said. “I hated him from day one. I remember even posting on social media, ‘I wish I was 10 years younger because I would smash that fool.’ I hate to see him take chances out of a name. … He didn’t look good. He just had the luxury of not having to work. He’s an athlete. I can’t take that away from him. He doesn’t have to jump through the same hoops as everyone else.

“People who have that, ‘I have to work to support my family,’ and who are also trying to make it — those are the real fighters because they fight every day. People coming out of the NFL with a million dollars with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank have the opportunity to train in the best places every day without having to worry about work and recover. These people are more annoying to me because they already have it. They try to take it away from the people who fight for it.”

Competitive fighting has always been a part of his life for the past 16 years, although he admits he’s been at it on and off during that time. Watson says he sold about $17,000 worth of tickets at a local show in Portland, Maine, in 2011, causing quite a stir. Then-UFC matchmaker Joe Silva told him to go middleweight, win a fight, and he’d get a chance. But the shot never came.

Things in life got in his way – but they also gave him this chance. Days before Watson received an offer to fight Hardy, he resigned from a recent promotion when the attrition became too great.

“I resigned from my position on Tuesday and was just relieved,” said Watson. “I was just so stress free. The next day I was offered this fight and I said, ‘Holy Karma.’ If I was still doing what I’m doing I would have had to deny it because I wouldn’t have been able to train properly. It was so, so, so strange how it worked out that way.”

The dominoes fall into play. With a fight remaining in the tank, Watson is hoping the recent win sets him up for a dream come true.

“I was trying to fight this retirement battle,” Watson said. “They have to pass barknuckle in Vegas or they have to have it in Massachusetts or something so I can fight either here or at home in front of friends and family. Once they do that and I have a fight there, I can completely retire from the sport just because I’m old as shit.”

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie How Josh Watson used chance to take down Greg Hardy and why it meant so much

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