FightOpinion.com's Jonathan Shrager: recently sat with Jackson's MMA team member Tom ‘Kong’ Watson — “I stand by my training partner Nate Marquardt”
Jonathan Shrager: “What do you think of Ariel Helwani as an interviewer?”
Tom Watson: “Ariel is undoubtedly a weasel, but he’s great at his job. In his line of work, a stirrer attains results. It’s no coincidence that Ariel is the man who always manages to obtain the exclusive interviews with Dana White at UFC events.
“Simply put, he captures the interviews that people want to see, full of media sensationalism. He broaches the topics and poses the questions that other interviewers may choose not to through concern of offending the fighters. I saw his recent sit-down with Chael Sonnen in which Chael defamed PRIDE and lambasted Brazilian fighters. Whilst extremely close to the bone, people enjoy such spectacles, including myself admittedly. And the proof is always in the pudding; Ariel is now arguably the single most successful and well-recognised reporter within MMA. From relative obscurity to prominence within a short time frame is a testament to his skill.”
Jonathan Shrager: “So you’re evidently a fan of his?”
Tom Watson: “Yes, I quite like Ariel. He only asks the questions, and it remains the fighters’ prerogative whether to respond. What does frustrate me is the occasions on which a reporter will purposefully modify your words, or omit certain sentences, in order to achieve the desired effect for their article.
Jonathan Shrager: “It appears that the bitter war of words between BJ Penn and your teammate Nate Marquardt has recommenced following Nate’s assertion that BJ is a “Pothead”. Other fighters contributed with their input when the feud initially began. What did you make of fellow countryman Dan Hardy’s statement that Nate should work as a male stripper if banned indefinitely?”
Tom Watson: “Yes, Dan Hardy emerged with a characteristically humorous citation, but can Dan substantiate his comments about Nate’s medical background? At the end of the day, it’s all pure speculation. Referring to Nate’s past record with PEDs is futile since Nate has served his suspensions so that should be left in the past. And by Dan claiming that he doesn’t understand why 30 year-old men need TRT, well that’s an ignorant statement on behalf of Dan. Seemingly robust young athletes have suffered grave medical issues which nobody could anticipate so we shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover without knowing the hard facts. It’s a little bit silly for Dan to be involving himself in the debate, but then again I suppose he needs the publicity after his recent skid.”
Jonathan Shrager: “And Chael Sonnen claimed that Nate might be omitting certain details. What’s your opinion on that?”
Tom Watson: “I’ve trained with Nate sporadically over the last few years, and he’s a good friend. I don’t like to offer an opinion, since the UFC, Nate and his medical advisors are the only parties privy to the specifics. What I can confirm, echoing the sentiments of many personalities within the MMA world, is that Nate is a great guy, and an honest man. It’s not as if he fought and was subsequently caught, but rather Nate was open about his TRT, and there were legitimate reasons for the treatment, so it’s a difficult situation.
“With respect to Chael Sonnen’s assertion that Nate was omitting certain details during his expose on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour, Chael found himself in a position which compelled him to make such a statement, in order to make it appear as if there was some point of distinction from his case of TRT following the Anderson Silva fight. Chael will soon be fighting one of my close friends and main training partners Brian Stann, which I don’t think is a favourable fight for Sonnen. Sonnen will probably enter the fight as the bookies’ favourite, so when Brian bests him, it’ll automatically thrust “The All-American” into title contention. I’ve become particularly close with Brian since his drop to middleweight, and following my fight with Murilo “Ninja” Rua I flew straight out to Vegas for his fight with Santiago, and then stayed at his house for a week.”