Inside Look Into Local MMA: Jeff Watts Details the Dedication Needed to Thrive in the Competitve World of Amateur MMA
For casual fans of mixed martial arts the glamorous lives of high profile champions like Jon Jones or Georges St Pierre may seem the norm. But even megastars like "Bones" or "Rush" have to start somewhere. Enter the world of local MMA.
Grueling practices, marginal pay, and constant uncertainty are common occurrences for aspiring athletes hoping to one day make it to the top of the sport. But so too is teammate camaraderie, a physically taxing yet enjoyable workout regimen, and the chance to follow one's ultimate dream.
Over the next few months follow along as amateur competitor Jeff Watts – better known as 'Karmaatemycat' to some – brings readers deep into the world of local mixed martial arts and all of the positive and negative incidents that accompany following your dream.
I have always been about pushing the limits. It's almost as if it's built into my genetics. I can't really explain my love for a fight or the fact that I can't back down from a fight, no matter how tough the other guy is.
That's why, when I was offered a fight with the Northeast's number two, I had to accept. I'm a fighter that's my job, right?
Taking a hard fight has never been something new for me. I've always had to fight for what I wanted: food, clothes, a place to sleep. That's why, when I found out I had injured my eye in my last fight, I was all torn up inside.
I let it beat me up for a couple months. I couldn't train the way I wanted to. I am a hands-on learner. Being a kinetic based learner, which means I learn best hands-on, sparring and rolling made training insanely difficult for me both physically and mentally.
I remember the first time I entered the doctor's office. He was a bit taken back from the condition my face was in. After the examination the doctor suggested I should never fight again, but smiled at me and said, "I don't expect that's an option for someone like you is it?"
Dealing with a jacked up retina is a terrible situation. You see floaters and flashers, which are essentially little black specs in your vision and occasionally you'll see a flash of light out of the corner of your eye. That was the hardest thing I had to get used to because it lasted for sixty days or so. The floaters are more annoying than anything else.
You know, we all have our highs and lows in life. We all know when it's good it's great, and when it's not it's just terrible. I'm one of those people who are always thinking while he's doing everything else. I always evaluate situations and I generally think about things before I say them, regardless of what some people might think.
Fighting is my life, so when I could do nothing but strength and conditioning it got to me pretty bad. When the hardest thing in life for you is walking away from a fight, then not being able to fight at all is torture. My head became my own personal prison long before the fight in May, which is likely the biggest revelation I came to. I hadn't been training correctly at all and I didn't really have a gym to call home.
As a fighter without a home I was lost. I had no direction and it was slowly eating me up from the inside out. May 5th is just the day it all came to fruition. Being on the sidelines for months gives you a lot of time to think about what you could have done or what you should have done. All the people who care about you pat you on the back and tell you that there's always the next fight, and to keep your chin up.
Regardless of how hard you try you will never forget, and that's a good thing believe it or not. Situations like the one I was going through needed to happen to remind me that things just had to change. The endless loop I was in had to end and it wasn't going to without some sort of awakening, no matter how traumatic.
As a fighter it's our job to learn, evolve, and grow into a better version of ourselves. Something I forgot about is that I'm not just a fighter, I am a martial artist. With this whole experience almost behind me, I've learned a lot about myself as a person.
I have no roadblocks in my way, and the sky is the limit for me. I move forward knowing I'm not unbeatable; that I am an average Joe living his dream to show all the other Joes that they can chase their dreams. The only person who can stop them is themselves.