Mixed Martial Arts: Squaring up to middleweight champ Tom Watson in the ring

 

I'm not a particularly good lover, but I'm certainly not a fighter. Squaring up to all 186lb of former British mixed martial arts middleweight champ Tom Watson, my mind can't help but swim with the various stomach-turning cage fighting injuries I'd seen online earlier in the day.

There are the broken noses, the cracked heads, the blood sprayed like fizzy drink from a shaken can by Jackson Pollock across the canvas ring floor. And there's Anderson Silva's leg turning to jelly – available to view on Youtube – after misjudging a shin-kick to his competitor.

But, Watson reckons, it's a safer sport than boxing from which he made the transition in 2006. "To be honest, the broken leg caught everyone's attention because it's visual. It's probably less bad for his health than getting knocked out. In boxing, it's just repeated blows to the head."

OK then, sure. Let's go. MMA does what it says on the tin: mixes a range of martial arts disciplines. There are punches from boxing, kicks from Thai boxing, flips from judo and on-the-floor grappling and locks from taekwondo. Most people will recognise it from Ultimate Fighting Championship, the televised US league in which Watson fights.

Having fought 23 fights Stateside – losing only six – Watson is one of the leading British names in the sport. We start by throwing a few punches. Next, I'm up against the cage wire, being thrown sideways to the floor. There I'm treated to a range of locks, pins and grapples. Having my arm forced into my throat until I feel I might pass out is a personal favourite.

An all-round workout for sure and, on this occasion at least, not a drop of blood spilt.

Cheapskates version: Highly, highly unrecommended.

Tom Watson, former British Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion, is an ambassador for Lonsdale.

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