Ever wonder why every UFC and WEC event is always on time? I will tell you why, it’s because Dana White was smart enough to bring in the best fight coordinator in the game, Mr. Burt Watson. Burt is the man behind the scenes who the fans never notice, but appreciate when the first fight of the night is on time. The fighters, trainers, cutmen, referees, judges, commentators and even the ring girls are happy to have him on board, knowing that we will all be at the arena on time preparing for the event to start on time. Coming from a boxing background, Burt has also worked behind the scenes with all of the best promoters in the world, including Don King. A Philadelphia native, Burt has also played a major part in managing and promoting Hall of Famer and former heavyweight world champion “Smoking” Joe Frazier. A former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Burt handles his duties as fight coordinator with honor and pride. The marine motto, “First In, Last Out” is what Burt lives by.
We the cutmen have it simple compared to Burt Watson. I never have to worry about my flight schedule, Burt handles that. I never have to worry about being picked up at the airport, Burt handles that. I never have to worry about picking up my per diem or credentials when I arrive at the hotel. Burt handles that. I know when I have to be at the hotel lobby to either go to the arena or to the airport after the event is finally over…Burt handles that. I have a simple life thanks to my friend, Burt Watson. Burt has not only made my life and the other cutmen’s lives easier, he has made it easier for the 100 plus men and women who take part in making the greatest show on earth a reality. Not an easy task for anyone to handle.
Like any military commander, Burt has his crew of dedicated soldiers backing him up. The “Buffalo Soldiers” as we so fondly refer to them, are the drivers that make sure that everyone involved is on time. Many of us arrive to the event a day or two before the show begins. Burt and the “Buffalo Soldiers” are at the site before the fighters start arriving, usually a week before the event.
Upon arrival, Burt and his soldiers immediately pick up rental vans and coordinate pick up times for the fighters and their camps. Another benefit that the fighters have when they check into the hotel is a training room complete with floor mats, towels, water and a heavy bag. As always, one room for the blue corner and one room for the red corner. A scale is also available so that the fighters can check their weight. It is very important to make the fighters as comfortable and stress free as possible during the week before the fight and Burt Watson is the best at it. Taking fighters to have medical check ups is also the responsibility of the crew.
During the weigh-ins the fans will get a chance to see Burt Watson, not knowing that he is the man that makes sure the show is always on time. Once the fighters all arrive at the arena, he checks to see who wants their hands wrapped by the UFC cutmen. Burt makes sure that their medical check ups are completed by the doctors in attendance. Fighters are lined up behind the curtains according to the fight schedule, ready to get on the scales. Burt will then get on stage and hype up the crowd before the fighters get on the scale. By the time the fighters get on the scale Burt has the fans so pumped up that you can feel their energy level throughout the arena.
Though Burt and the crew often work 16 plus hours per day the week of the fight, it is nothing compared to the day of the fight. Through Burt’s coordinated efforts the crew starts transporting the first group of people to the arena. As soon as the fighters, trainers and cutmen arrive we are assigned dressing rooms. The fighters go to their dressing rooms and we go to ours. We immediately start preparing our gauze, tape, buckets and water. Burt gives us a roster of the fights and the fighters who want their hands wrapped by the cutmen. Then we go to work. The cutmen start wrapping hands beginning with the first fight until everyone is wrapped. To keep the war machine running smooth, we make sure that every preliminary fighter has his gloves on before the first fight takes place. During this time Burt Watson is racing throughout the dressing rooms making sure that everything is running smoothly.
When everyone backstage hears Burt’s marine voice yell “Lets Roll Baby!” the time has come. The fighters are ready, the fans are ready and it’s time for the show to begin. On cue and on time, the first fighters take the long walk to the octagon. Like a father protecting his sons, Burt guides them through the screaming fans to the steps of the Octagon. Cutmen apply Vaseline on their faces as their final preparation for battle, and both fighters enter the Octagon. As the first fight is going on, Burt is backstage preparing to send out fighters for the second bout, keeping an accurate time schedule. One fight after another, the show is on time and run smoothly, thanks to Burt Watson.
After a total of anywhere from 10 to 12 bouts for the night, the main event is finally over and the fans have had their share of a great time. The stands are emptying fast, the clean up crews are breaking down the seats while some are picking up the trash that the thousands of fans have left behind. The Octagon is also coming down and being packaged for its journey to our next event. Everyone is tired, hungry and ready to get back to the hotel. Burt and the “Buffalo Soldiers” still have hours of work to complete. The 100 plus participants all have to get back to the hotel. The fighters that have received some form of injury and are at the hospital have to be picked up by a driver. No sleep for Burt and the crew. From as early as 4:00 in the morning until 2 or 3:00 in the afternoon the crew has to shuttle people to the airport for their journey home. After every person has been taken to the airport and the vans returned to the rental agency, Burt can kick off his shoes, relax, and be proud of the work he has done week after week after week. This is why Burt Watson is “The Busiest Man in the UFC.”