Glory Watson didn’t learn she would become the first woman to headline a Maine mixed martial arts card in grandiose fashion.
But the opportunity to battle Cara Greenwell for the New England Fights women’s strawweight (115-pound) title at Aura in Portland on Saturday night as the main attraction of NEF 41 is just the latest step in a fast-moving amateur career for the undefeated fighter from Young’s MMA in Bangor.
“After my last fight we had spoken with the promoter about me possibly being the main event,” the 25-year-old Watson said. “It was never really confirmed until the fight card was released and I noticed I was the main event. I got a message from one of my managers and she said, ‘Hey, you’re the main event.’ That’s how I found out.
“It’s nice to be kind of a pioneer in women’s MMA in the state and in New England, really.”
The decision to put Watson in the featured match of NEF’s 41st mixed martial arts show since it debuted in February 2012 came easily, particularly since Watson — already the NEF amateur flyweight (125-pound) champion — will attempt to become the first fighter to hold two of the promotion’s title belts at the same time.
“Since her debut, Glory has been out here taking on all comers, staying healthy, fighting consistently and smashing NEF records across the board,” NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson said. “She has defined herself as one of the one of the top fighting prospects in the country. The clock is ticking to see Glory locally because before long she will be fighting on the world stage.”
Watson (6-0) has indicated that her upcoming fight could be her last as an amateur, but no firm decision has been made.
“It’s just up to coach [Chris Young] and how I feel and how everything goes,” she said. “We haven’t confirmed whether it’s going to happen or not. It’s kind of up in the air, but sooner or later we’re hopefully going to make the jump to pro.”
The 21-year-old Greenwell looms as Watson’s most experienced opponent to date.
The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, product is 9-4 after a loss by unanimous decision to Maria Jose Favela in Las Vegas on June 29 that ended her four-fight winning streak.
But Greenwell already has a professional contract waiting from Invicta Fighting Championships that she earned with a third-round submission victory over Kayla Hracho in a World Class Fight League tournament bout in Tampa, Florida, in October 2018.
Watson last fought Sept. 7 at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono, scoring a first-round TKO over Canadian Lin MacMillan.
The followed a June 22 bout in Lewiston when she outlasted Caree Hill of Oregon by five-round split decision to capture the NEF amateur flyweight title.
Watson’s upcoming bout is one of four amateur title contests at the top of the 14-fight Portland card.
Current NEF bantamweight champion Kam Arnold (5-1) will defend his title against Walt Shea (3-1), Zac Richard (4-2-1) will face Mike Murray (3-1) for the vacant lightweight crown and Steve Desjardins (5-3) will battle Nate Boucher (5-3) for the men’s flyweight belt.
“Right now we’re seeing one of the greatest fields of amateur competitors since NEF started,” Peterson said. “As a fan, I’m really curious to see how many of these dynamic athletes decide to stay committed and take their talents as far as they can. It’s an exciting time.”