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Glory Watson may not have been quite at the top of her mixed martial arts game at NEF 39 on Saturday night, but she was good enough to leave the cage with two championship belts.
The 24-year-old Watson, who trains at Young’s MMA in Bangor, used a strong finish to outlast Oregonian Caree Hill by split decision in their New England Fights amateur flyweight title match at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
“If [Hill] had won, she would have been very deserving,” Watson said. “I felt like I didn’t perform the way I should have so I wasn’t expecting to win. I was ecstatic that I did, but if I had lost I understand that you can’t win them all.”
The undefeated Watson improved to 5-0 and took home both the vacant New England Fights and Queen MMA championship belts.
NEF and Queen MMA had worked together to make this cross-country match, and the fighters delivered a back-and-forth 15 minutes of action over five, three-minute rounds.
“She did exactly what I thought she was going to do,” Watson said. “A lot of it was I just wasn’t in it mentally. I had been struggling a lot with my anxiety and depression in the days before the fight and it kind of took a toll on me.
“But it was nice to know that with all of that adversity I was able to still perform in a way that impressed the important people there, the judges.”
Watson said she struggled with the similarities between her fighting style and that of Hill, whose record fell to 4-2.
“Five rounds was exhausting,” Watson added. “I actually completely forgot it was five rounds until about 30 seconds before walking out to the cage.”
Watson said she likely lost the first and third rounds on the three judges’ scorecards but thought she rebounded late in the match to earn the victory.
“I finished stronger than I started,” said Watson, who plans to return to the cage on Sept. 7 when New England Fights stages its first show at the Collins Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono.
“As it went on, I was able to shut some things out and understand why I was there and reconnect with the primitive part of me. It was just a battle of wills at that point.”
Watson was one of two Young’s MMA fighters to score victories at NEF 39. Jimmy Jackson improved to 3-3 by forcing the debuting Brandon Sewall to tap out via a rear-naked choke at 2:01 of the opening round of their amateur lightweight contest.
In the night’s main event, Dylan Lockard of Danville, New Hampshire, improved to 6-1 and won the NEF professional lightweight championship by defeating Lewiston-Auburn veteran Jesse Erickson (9-8). Lockard stung Erickson with a right hand and then a series of elbows to score a first-round technical knockout.
Among other bouts, Garry Carr (2-1) remained the oldest athlete ever to win a fight in the NEF cage when he defeated Clifford Redman by technical knockout with one second left in the first round. Carr turns 58 in July.