Bangor-area mixed martial fighter Glory Watson is turning pro.
Watson, who trains at Young’s MMA in Bangor, will make her professional debut on April 18 on the New England Fights 43 card to be held at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono.
She will face Grace Nowak of Watertown, New York, in a strawweight (115-pound) bout.
“I am beyond ecstatic to announce my debut into the professional rankings of the women’s mixed martial arts world,” Watson said.
Watson is making the jump to the professional ranks after a busy rise through the region’s amateur division.
She fought seven times in just 17 months as an amateur, compiling a 6-1 record and winning the NEF women’s flyweight belt with a split-decision victory over Mississippi fighter Caree Hill last summer at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Watson won her first six amateur bouts before suffering her lone loss, a five-round unanimous decision on Nov. 9 in Portland to highly regarded Cara Greenwell of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Watson is believed to be the first woman from Maine to become a professional mixed martial arts competitor since Bangor native Emily Peters Kagan.
Kagan was 3-3 as a professional and rose to compete in the Invicta Fighting Championships in 2013 and fought twice with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2014 and 2015 before her retirement from the sport.
While there are no firm numbers of the number of women fighting professionally in regional or national promotions around the country, women fighters have become a staple of top-level UFC shows since Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche took part in the promotion’s first women’s MMA bout in 2013.
Nowak is a veteran of the MMA cage in the northeastern United States, having made her amateur debut in 2010 and fighting regularly since then in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.
She represents Behring Jiu-Jitsu based in Watertown, New York.
“Many thanks to [NEF co-owners] Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo with New England Fights for putting on a show that allows me to progress my career with a very game opponent,” Watson said. “I look forward to this big step in my journey and stepping into the cage once again.”