Today we bring you an interview with the legendary referee and also a versatile man, whose work is coxswained by high standards. And you better believe it – he’s extremely good at what he does. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Grant Waterman!!
Hello Mr Waterman. For starters, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
People of Europe, brothers and sisters of combat sports, Vikings, Slovenian Warriors, I am Grant Waterman!
Which martial art did you train and what prompted your decision to do so?
I learnt some boxing when I was 9 as I was mesmerised by Ali, then I started Judo at 12 for a couple of years simply because a Freind was doing it and then when i went to college I started Karate. For 6 years I kept saying that it was not good to punch and kick nothing but thin air. It was so linear. I would win most Kumite simply by using lateral movements and countering. In my 20’s I started boxing and kickboxing. People then started falling over.
Have you always been into martial arts, or were you interested in other sports too?
I’ve always loved martial arts, however at school I was academically stupid and the only thing I wanted to do was sport. At one time I was captain of the football team, cricket team and basketball team. I played everything. I was competitive but always chose the guys who were not very good to be on my team so I could make them feel better.
How old were you when you first stepped in the ring?
I competed at European level in Karate at age 21, but it was not until I was 26 that I had my first boxing bout. Which I lost.
Nowadays, you are a world-known referee. Do you remember the first time you were refereeing?
Yes, not that clearly though. It was in 1998. I was at a kickboxing event that had two MMA (shoot fighting) contests. The referee didn’t turn up so I stepped in. No experience at all apart from being a military Physical Training Instructor. I nailed it though.
What made you to choose the career of a referee?
I didn’t really choose to be a ref, however I seemed to take to it naturally and then when MMA took off a cross Europe I felt duty bound to make sure the sport grew in the correct way. Being the first real MMA referee in Europe meant I had a huge responsibility.
How many fights have you handled so far?
Ha! I stopped counting a few years ago at 5000.
In which organization have you participated as a referee? Which one is your favourite?
The UFC, WFC, FFC, Angggr Management, Millenuum Brawl, Cage Rage, Wcmma, UCMMA, Abu Dhabi Warriors, Real Pain, FCFN, UK1 MMA, Fx3, Cage Warriors, and many many others. My favourite was Cage Rage. Ahead of its time and a magical few years.
You have seen a lot of fights in your career. Is there a particular fight that you remember?
Apart from the one between me and my ex Mrs. Cyborg vs Melvin Manhoef and Lee Murrey be Anderson Silva. Remember these were 12 years ago.
What is your relationship with fighters throughout the day before the fight? And what is it like after?
I have always managed to maintain a strong relationship with fighters and coaches. I feel that many referees are insecure and try to be the big man or act like a bully. Everyone knows that I am totally fair and totally neutral. Anyone can approach me and ask any question and i will help all fighters to perform at their best. After an event I will have a beer or two with everyone. My integrity is like a piece of granite though. Remember that!
You have also been part of the UFC on several occasions. Is there any difference between UFC and some other, maybe not so big and worldwide known organization?
Recently you also refereed for Croatian organization FFC. What is your take on the organization? Are we going to see you work with them in the future?
FFC is awesome. Croatians themselves are proud people and have a great deal of passion for fighting. For such a small country to produce a world class show like FFC is fantastic. Croatia itself is also beautiful. I hope to stay working with FFC for a long time.
What is your life motto?
Ride with me or collide with me! You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Unrivalled Integrity.
Many people think that Martial arts is not a sport at all, but violence. What is your message to those people?
These are the same people who think that Politicians speak the truth. But you can only learn about a subject if you want to learn.
You travel around the world a lot. Can you share some anecdotes from your travels?
Sorry, all XXX rated.
Describe yourself in three words?
Real old Skool
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Above where I am now in all aspects of life. I never stop trying. TGN$, The Grind Never $tops
What are the values that you respect with other people?
People who are real and have learned to stop listening to their ego. People who don’t bullshit and who maintain good morals and family values. But also know when and how to party like a maniac.
What kind of a man is Grant Waterman in private, when he’s not wearing a referee uniform?
I’m non stop. I’m always thinking and always trying to learn and myself and others. I try to be a good father and husband and try to look after my mother as best I can. I also struggle with a part of my personality that makes me so crazy stuff.
Does it bother you when people on the street recognize you and want to take a picture with you or ask you questions?
I like it, except when some fans swear in front of my mum or my wife. Of course I have to let all the female fans get a picture with me too.
You are active as a referee and a commentator. Which one is you favourite?
As long as I’m working on a big event I’m happy.
Reliable sources tell me that you are an extremely good cook. What is your favourite food to prepare and, obviously, eat?
I like simple, quick cooking. Try frying some mushrooms until well cooked, and some peppers, soy sauce and Worcester sauce and some diced chicken. Once it starts to brown add some sweet chilli sauce and serve on some rice. Very simple, very Awesome.
Are you vulnerable to critics or do you take them as part of the show ?
It is not the critic who counts; nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. For those who dare to try know that until you have faced death, life truly has a flavour others shall never taste.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years ?
In 10 years time, I will be fitter, stronger, closer to my family, wiser, and even less worried about what negative people say about me. I hope I can contribute in some way to society and help those less fortunate than myself. What are the values that you respect with other people? I respect people who can ignore their ego and strive to do what they want to do whilst ignoring those who have never tried to achieve greatness. I respect a man who puts his family first and I would like people to see the value of the family unit and fathers and mothers being role models for their children.
What kind of a man is Grant Waterman in private, when he’s not wearing a referee uniform?
I have several personalities and I struggle to control a few of them. I can appear arrogant and loud but also like nature and peace. I have been involved in violence, combat sports and military training for many years and trying to balance my life with correct behaviour along with my search for adrenalin and having a hyperactive brain that never shuts down can be difficult. But never boring. I love to entertain people no matter where I am.
What do you do in your free time?
What is Free Time? I like big bikes, snowboarding, good, Las Vegas, seeing my Mum, my son and spending time with my gorgeous wife. Plus all things crazy.
Obviously you are a busy man, but do you have any other hobbies?
I just enjoy life. There is so much to do and so much to see, as well as so many awesome people out there. Despite all its drudgery and doom and gloom, the world is still a beautiful place and my favourite hobbies are smiling and laughter.
Snowboarding, motorbikes, family, cars, psychology, business, music, holidays, and replying to interviews from good friends.
In your opinion, who is the best fighter at the moment?
Man! Impossible to answer. There are some great fighters emerging from the Balkans and Russia however I wonder about how well they are managed.
You spent a lot of time with Balkan fighters. Any particular fighter you’d like you point out?
As above, there are too many good fighters here, but they need matching and managing better to take them to the top .
Your message to fans and friends?
I just want to say thank you to everyone. I hope I have contributed to your enjoyment of MMA and K1 over the years. Anyone want to take me snowboarding, inbox me.
Mr Waterman thank you for your time and all the best in future !!
Žiga Knuplež,Milan Krušič