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October 27, 2023



 Bangor, Maine (October 18, 2023)

Maine has long been ahead of the curve in the category of embracing and elevating its most exceptional female athletes. Perhaps the greatest evidence is rooted within a short radius of Bangor, Maine.

For decades inside the venerable, v-roofed Bangor Auditorium and its bustling descendant, Cross Insurance Center, the legendary likes of Cindy Blodgett and Amy Vachon starred on the court and later have been lauded as hall of fame basketball players.

Their personalities and performances held such sway that spectators converged in droves to celebrate their every move, sometimes double or triple the number that would attend the men’s high school and college games in the same arenas.

Another gifted women’s athlete has arisen from that cradle of champions along the banks of the Penobscot River, and Glory Watson’s rabid fan base has honored her as a similar superstar in regional circles.

“The following that I have all over New England is huge, but Bangor is a little bit bigger because it’s very close to home,” Watson said, “I get a lot of people that walk out their front door and make it to the venue in five or 10 minutes.”

Winner of five consecutive bouts as a professional mixed martial artist, Watson has left an undeniable impression on the fans, promoters and media associated with New England Fights.

The 29-year-old is a star whose reach dwarfs her 5-foot-2, 115-pound frame. She will take on Shawna Ormsby (2-4) in the main event of“NEF 55: Glory Days.”

It’s scheduled for Saturday, November 11 inside the Grand Ballroom at Cross Insurance Center. Bell time is 7 p.m.

“Most of the time it still feels pretty surreal,” Watson said of the attention surrounding her skyrocketing career. “Considering myself a professional athlete doesn’t feel realistic. It’s where I am, but it doesn’t feel real.”

It will have been nine months to the day since Watson last entertained an NEF audience and graced the cage just a few stoplights from her native Brewer.

After a pair of decision wins to wrap up 2022, Watson graced the new year with a first-round stoppage of Hilarie Rose by rear naked choke on February 11 at ‘NEF 51: Banger in Bangor.”

“That fight for me was definitely huge,” Watson said. “It was definitely the biggest fight of my career in terms of the caliber of opponent and her experience and what it meant for my career, so it was a massive win.”

Watson previously lost to Rose in a 2021 kickboxing bout under the auspices of NEF. The Massachusetts fighter also had ample MMA chops, as evidenced by her appearance in UFC President Dana White’s Contender Series.

“She was a really tough chick with a lot of high accolades,” Watson said of Rose. “She was a very early-on female MMA fighter in New England. She was fighting when I first started, and I had a sense of admiration for her. Fighting her was a little bit surreal at first.”

While she never stopped frequenting the gym at Young’s MMA after the victory, Watson did take a break from competition that wasn’t entirely planned.

“Since then, I’ve been dealing with some weird medical stomach stuff. I’ve talked to a lot of fighters in the area, and they have similar stuff going on,” Watson said. “I think weight cutting doesn’t do great stuff for our bellies. We’ve made decent progress, which is good, because I feel like I’m back where I can do everything like I need to. I’ve been training constantly just like I always do.”

Ormsby is an interesting character with a significant social media footprint and a diverse history in combat sports. Born in Buffalo, New York, and based out of Orlando, Florida, Ormsby has lost her past four bouts, evenly split between the boxing ring and the MMA cage.

Two pro wins on Ormsby’s ledger took place before the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean Watson is looking past her toward greater glories.

“I never really know a lot about my opponents. I’m one of the people, it’s super cheesy, but I leave it all up to my coach (Chris Young). I put all my faith in him,” Watson said. “I know she has a pet squirrel, and I like that. She’s from Florida. She’s been doing more boxing of late than MMA. She has done grappling tournaments. She’s had her hand in just about every aspect of the competition side of martial arts that I’m interested in.”

When you look at the respective records, Watson fighting Ormsby could be construed as the equivalent of a college football team with national championship aspirations choosing to take on a non-conference team far outside the rankings. In other words, everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Watson reads between the lines and doesn’t see it that way.

“You could look at it as higher risk, but I think the better way to look at it is she’s fought some very tough girls. The girls she’s fought are in the UFC or have taken bigger steps up, so she doesn’t fight nobodies,” Watson said. “It’s not like she’s losing to girls that have losing records. She’s losing to really tough women. Her record I don’t think necessarily dictates her performance at times. I view it as her having more experience than me against higher caliber opponents, so that number doesn’t change anything for me.”

Like many fighters who gradually gravitate to the arena, Watson had no intentions of fighting prior to her six-fight amateur winning streak in 2018 and 2019. It was simply a way to stoke the dormant competitive fires of her high school athletic days and perhaps get closer to that peak physical condition.

Now it has become a healthy obsession and something she wouldn’t trade for the world.

“It's a wild ride. For me it is definitely a lifestyle. I train twice a day almost every day. It’s irregular for me to not train twice a day,” Watson said. “Even when I am out of camp, we usually try to get two sessions. The intensity changes a little when we’re outside of camp, but still getting a lot of skill work, technical work, strength work, cardio, everything.”

That’s the reason not much changed even during Watson’s unscheduled hiatus from the cage.

“My life when I’m in camp isn’t much different than when I’m out of it, just because of the training side of things,” she said. “And I love the training, so it’s not inconvenient or difficult for me to go in and train, because I love doing it. It’s my job whether I’m in camp or not, and I love everything about this sport. It’s my favorite thing that I’ve ever done.”

Watson rarely engages in a conversation about her progression in the sport without the obvious question.

When will she get the call from UFC or another upper-level national or international promotion?

“That is difficult, just because what I see is way different than what anyone else sees, which is different than what other people see,” Watson said. “It all depends on when you catch the right eye, when you make the right moves and are exciting, get finishes and things like that.

“Right now, I think I’m in a good position, I wouldn’t say I’m about to jump over the edge, but I wouldn’t say I’m far behind. I think I’m in a really good position to just grow my career and let my career be what gets me to the next level without having to force anything and just enjoying what I’m doing.”

Though fully committed to the sport as a professional, Watson also enjoys her current work/life balance. To wit, she was in the middle of household chores when contacted for a recent interview.

“I don’t want to have to be pushing so hard to get to the next level that all I do is train, and I can’t enjoy my life. And then when it comes to getting to that level I don’t have a life to enjoy, and I’m there, and I lose,” Watson said. “The mental side of things, and that’s something I made sure to work on that during my break, was that mentally I’m in a good position, and I feel like that now. Being in a good mental position is what I feel like will help me elevate to the next level. We’ll see what happens. Whether I’m close or not is kind of a mystery. I would like to say yes, but you really never know.”

Mystery is an element Watson loves about this life choice.

“Because it’s mixed martial arts, there are so many different aspects that are pulled,” she explained. “You can get somebody that’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu but doesn’t like striking. You can get someone that is a kickboxing world champion but doesn’t like to grapple. You can get someone that likes all of it. It’s piecing it all together, and that’s what makes it such an amazing sport is you never know what you’re gonna get, and no one knows what they’re gonna get from you either.”

Being able to showcase that skill set in front of the people who love her the most is something Watson will never take for granted.

Her fight with Ormsby is the fifth time she has battled in the Bangor area. Watson also has scrapped in Lewiston and Portland as well as New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida, but naturally there’s no place like home.

Watson also takes pride in the class exhibited by fans in her corner of the world.

“I love the crowd. That’s something that’s huge for me,” Watson said. “I haven’t gone anywhere yet that I’ve been booed, but I’m sure it will happen. Anyone we’ve ever fought, the crowd has never booed my opponent, and that’s something I’m really grateful for. Bangor is very supportive of me and my opponent either way.”

True to form, you’ll get more positivity than posturing and predictions of grandeur from Watson, particularly at this stage of the pre-fight lead-up.

She does believe her improved health in all aspects will be reflected inside those locked doors.

“I think I’m gonna come out different than I have before because of where I am mentally. I’m in a much better position. Honestly, I’m just excited to see what happens as well,” Watson said. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do. It’s always a mystery. It’s early in camp, too, so who knows what the game plan is right now? Coach hasn’t told me, and most of the time he doesn’t. He hints around. The technique we work helps me work on the game plan without me having to know what it is.”

“NEF 55: Glory Days” is set for a bell time of 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 11 inside the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. Tickets are on sale now at, or at the Maine Credit Union box office inside Cross Insurance Center.