Battle Arena has given the UK fight fans some of the most exciting and crowd pleasing moments in their violent history, and in just 8 days, the sound of violence will echo in Northampton once again.
Many phenomenal showdowns will take place at the Northampton County Cricket Ground but for one lady of MMA in particular, the night will bring a golden opportunity. Sorrel Watson takes on Lindsey Payne for the amateur Strawweight title, a chance of a lifetime for any amateur on the rise.
I took a trip down to Great Britain Top Team yesterday, to speak with one half of this absolute barn burner Sorrel Watson, to gain some insight leading up to next weekend.
Sorrel Watson is an English amateur Mixed Martial Artist currently competing in the Strawweight division, representing Great Britain Top Team. Sorrel has competed for Shock n’ Awe and makes her debut for Battle Arena on May 20th.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today Sorrel, and also to congratulate you on your upcoming Strawweight title opportunity at Battle Arena Northampton.
“Thank you, I can’t wait, this feels like a full circle moment. Because when I started I was just in the gym for fun in my town where nobody does anything, but there were 2 or 3 guys who went to the MMA gym nearby and they were always on Battle Arena. I was a teenager then so I was looking at them thinking oh my god, they look like legit athletes, the hardest people I’d ever seen, to be on a show like they were on would be so cool. That was like 6 years ago now, that’s why it feels like a full circle moment, I’ve come a long way.”
Definitely, that’s pure dedication in my eyes and I’m sure, many others.
This collision on the 20th wasn’t 1st set for the strap, no doubt you were full of jubilation when receiving the news?
“Yeah absolutely, I’ve sold loads of tickets so it makes sense to make it for the title. This will be my 9th fight now across many aspects of combat sports and my 2nd MMA fight but it makes sense to be going for straps now. Everybody in the gym is so busy at the moment, so we’re already at that level so it just makes sense.”
You started out in Muay-Thai I believe?
“Yeah I started in Muay-Thai and then saw all the boys throwing each other about on the floor and thought that looks sick, I want a bit of that.”
“I jumped on No-Gi soon after, so then it sort of melded into competing at both. For the 1st 4 years I was the only girl in the gym for quite a long time. The smallest, the lightest and the only girl. I moved house, changed jobs and changed everything so I could come here, as it got to the point even in Muay-Thai i was getting as far as I could go without having more realistic rounds. So with my coach’s blessing I started coming here, and moved everything to do it. You don’t get plan A if you’re still holding on to plan B, so everything changed to do this.”
Amazing dedication and also, what a gym to be able to chase your goals.
Your dedication to your preparations have been evident as you fast approach this golden opportunity, how has camp been for you?
“seamless, like the most perfect one ever. Physically training-wise, couldn’t have asked for better. Personally, there’s been so many times where I could have just quit, but never has it occurred to me just to give up. There’s been so many times I’ve been like, are you sure, are you definitely in the right place to do this, and the answer has always been yes, 100 percent. This is my time now, as typical as that sounds, you hear us all in the gym egging each other on saying, it’s your time bruv. But it’s one of those, where it feels right now.”
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The journey through the ranks and reaching an athlete’s goals is structured and manifested by the work put behind the scenes at the gym, and what a place to call the home of your training at GB Top Team.
Under the guidance of such dedicated and well rounded individuals here, you must be full of confidence that your goals in the brutal yet exhilarating world of Mixed Martial Arts are in great hands?
“Yeah exactly that, that’s it in a nutshell. I vibed with Cory pretty quick, when I 1st came her I was a bit homesick as it’s a huge change of environment. It took me a while to come out of my shell and I was quite shy for the 1st few months. I was in a Thai session and Cory noticed me then because I was kneeing someone to filth. That’s how we ended up talking, I work with him quite closely and he’s been instrumental on this camp, every second. Nothing is too much, he answers every voice-note and literally, I couldn’t ask for a better team, just absolute confidence. When everybody has that much confidence in you, you can’t not also have it as well, it’s like the extra mile ain’t it.”
I couldn’t agree more.
As you and your team prepare for your title aspirations in Nottingham, this opportunity is, like many amateurs, the goal that has been set out.
Are there any other goals you have set out to achieve on your 2023 MMA calendar?
“So, I’ve made the England squad and been training with them. There’s that issue with the IMMAF’s going on at the moment, hopefully that gets resolved quickly, and I’m hoping to be included in the four Nations. I’m missing the England squad this weekend as its too close to fight night, everyone is gunning for that place, so it’s not worth getting injured at this stage. So definitely Four Nations and to defend the strap, because I hate champions that win it once and don’t defend it, that proves that you’re the champion. There’s also a few girls in Ireland that have called me out, so hopefully, fight one of them for a European strap. I also wanna stick with Battle Arena, it feels like the right place for me. I’ve also got some Thai fights lined up as well, I’ll still be doing the English champs and probably an IBJJF if the bank balance allows it.
You’re a very busy lady.
“You have to man, there’s so many amateurs that wanna pick and choose but you can’t do that, particularly in our way in the girls divisions. Sure there’ll be some fights that don’t make sense at this point in your career, but you can’t turn down every single one, you gotta just go for it. When you look at people like Shanelle Dyer, she didn’t give no fucks about who she was, she barely fought in her own weight division but got busy with the amateurs. You can get emotionally invested because nobody wants to lose, nobody wants to not be their best, but you’re not gonna be there if you’re not staying active. So even if you’ve got to give away weight, give away a bit of experience you got to get on it, it’s a do you want it or not kind of thing.”
Shanelle definitely became queen of the amateurs, nobody wanted to go near her.
“Nobody wants it now to be fair, even at pro.”
Looking forward, you are just days away from taking the walk for one of the UK’s fiercest promotions taking on Lindsey Payne.
What do you make of Lindsey as you prepare to collide at the Northampton County Cricket Ground?
“I don’t know that much about Lindsey, but she seems pretty keen. I know she’s fought on Battle Arena before but to be honest with you, opponents ain’t my business, training is my business. Opponents are for the coaches, I just don’t really get involved on that side. If you’re like that, A you’re gonna get in your own head and B you shouldn’t be having those sorts of thoughts until you are UFC level where you’re calling out for business matches. My job is training and doing my stuff, their stuff is the coaching.”
A great mindset to have, just stay focused on you and your skill-set.
As previously stated, Battle Arena has cemented themselves as one of the UK’s fiercest promotions, playing host to some of the most explosive fighters from the UK and beyond and May 20th will be no exception.
Other than your inclusion on the night, are there any confirmed fighter’s or confirmed bouts in particular that you’re looking forward to witnessing?
“Yeah, my teammate Roscoe, I believe he’s challenging for the European title at Welterweight, he’s a big boy. We did a couple of rounds the other day, he’s looking sharp and ready. I’m looking forward to Hayley Valentine from BST’s fight with Indy Box, I trained with Hayley not so long ago. She’s a really nice girl.”
It’s great to see more of the ladies of MMA on the regional scene in the UK, it’s very few and far between at the moment.
“If I had my way that would change, my thing is to get more girls in the gym. Whether they wanna fight or not I’m not really bothered, it’s not for everyone. But when you come to the kids’ classes and it’s like 10 boys to 1 girl and the 1 girl isn’t really feeling it, it is intimidating. But If I have my way with how I see my career going, there will be a lot more girls in gyms.”
There’s such a great female squad here, with some of the fiercest ladies of MMA, it’s great to see.
“Yeah, it was a shock to the system let me tell you that, but so good. I think the 1st 8 to 12 weeks of being here I was like, I am the nail now but I’ll be the hammer soon, and to be honest, there are still sessions like that. There are absolute levels in this gym.”
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No doubt about it.
It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today Sorrel, I wish you all the best for your final preparations and I look forward to catching you out there.
“Thank you, are you gonna be there on the night?”
I’m gonna try my absolute best to be, 100 percent.
Last but not least, do you have a message for the fans that will be in attendance and anybody you’d like to give a shout-out to?
“My message to the fans is have a good time, it’s gonna be a good night and don’t blink. Shout-out to everybody, Scott Corah especially, he’s been my day 1 and is still behind the scenes my secret weapon. Cory Tait as well who’s gone above and beyond. Shout-out to my teammates who even in between rounds when you’re stressing, who make the effort to get you back up and at it. It’s literally so good, everybody in this gym is with you and on your back at the same time, it’s the best.”
Catch Sorrel and a huge host of explosive warriors take centre stage in Nottingham on May 20th, grab your tickets for this one guys, I can guarantee fireworks.
Tickets are available from the fighters and the Battle Arena team.