Round 1 - Big ovation for Tom Watson's UFC debut. Leon Roberts is the ref. We'll have a touch of gloves, and we're off and running for a middleweight clash. High kick from Watson. Then a solid right sticks Tavares. Tavres jabs, then a nice right. Then he shoots for a double and has Watson briefly on the mat. But "Kong" is back up pretty easily, and they go back to trading. They exchange kicks, then punches, and the crowd cheers with each that lands for Watson and gasps when Tavares connects. But then Watson lands a knee that is too low just as Tavares is coming forward, and he knows it. He doesn't know it as well as Tavares knows it, though. The two hug it out on the restart, then go back to slugging. Watson is trying to get inside, but Tavares is holding his own in the standup game here, jabbing his way out of danger. Watson lands a nice inside right uppercut, and they tie up. Watson looks to clinch, and the crowd wants a knee. Then a massive chant for Watson goes up briefly. It's really anyone's round right now – and Tavares does himself a favor with another takedown. Watson will work to get back up, but Tavares plants him again. With 45 seconds left, Watson is back to his feet – and then Watson lands a kick that is too low. Tavares looks at him and asks, ya know, "Dude?!?" Roberts is giving Watson a warning. They'll touch gloves and start up again, and Tavares gets inside for a jumping knee. Watson tries to take him off his feet, but can't. It's a close round in the striking department, but Tavares' takedowns will give him a 10-9 first frame on the MMAjunkie.com scorecard.
Round 2 - Body kick from Tavares, then he tries to stick a few jabs. He blocks a couple of Watson kicks. They tie up and start to flurry just a little, then break apart. Good two-punch and kick combo lands for Tavares, and then he just misses a front kick. Watson looks for a leaping kick, but it's off the mark, and he then the two tie up on the cage. They stalemate there for a spell, then break out of it. Watson lands a nice knee, but Tavares answers with a couple hooks that have Watson telling him to bring it. Watson's nose is a little bloodied up, it seems. Watson lands a left hook, and Tavares just misses a counter uppercut. They both go to the body. They tie up again with 90 seconds left, and Tavares bullies Watson to the ground. He then takes his back and looks for a rear-naked choke. It's on top of the chin so far, but Watson isn't in a great position here. Tavares gives up on the hold for now, but still keeps the back. He wraps up a body triangle as the clock ticks down, and he'll keep looking for the choke. Watson survives the round, but it's another 10-9 round for Tavares.
Round 3 - Good body kick from Watson, and he'll need to probably get a little desperate here. Tavares gets another takedown, and Watson looks for an arm as he spins out of it. Tavares nearly lands a knee on the way back up. But just a minute in, Tavares gets a second takedown in the round. Watson gets back to his feet, and Roberts asks for time to get an errant piece of tape cut away from Watson's glove. They'll go back to slugging in the center, and Tavares lands another brutal body kick. Watson misses over the top with a left, and Tavares drops down to try and take advantage. Watson defends the takedown, though, and may have something working here about halfway through looking to do some damage. But Tavares stays safe and keeps himself grounded to avoid any knees to the head. Watson looks to tee off and nearly lands a knee as they get back to standing. Tavares is starting to tire, and as he tries to push Watson to the cage, Watson lands a nice knee to the chin. Tavares stays standing, though, and continues to control Watson along the wall. Watson nearly lands a few knees as things wrap up. MMAjunkie.com will give a closer third to Tavares 10-9 and scores the fight for him 30-27. Brad Tavares def. Tom Watson via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)