That interview from a couple weeks ago went up today. I've edited my name out of it so that this log isn't easily attainable to future opponents.
Chilliwack Progress - Gentle Giant makes mark in MMA
J*** W******** swears he can do it.
The 22-year-old Chilliwack native swears he can go to Brazil, hang out near the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, and the women who frequent them, and still remain focused on his mixed martial arts training.
We wish him well.
If he can pull it off, and become a better mixed martial artist in the process, he will have taken one big step towards realizing his ultimate goal, a career in Ultimate Fighting.
In Brazil, W******** will train at Gordo Jiu-Jitsu, under the guidance of renowned instructor and third-degree black-belt Roberto ‘Gordo’ Correo.
“They have an international fighter program where they bring in fighters from all over the world,” W******* said. “It’s kind of an all-in moment for me. You can’t be serious about mixed martial arts and do it at anything less than 100 per cent. After two years, I love doing it and I want to throw myself into it while I’m still young. If I’m going to do it, now’s the time.”
W******* graduated from Sardis secondary school in 2006, winning the Sardis Strongman competition as a senior. After graduation, he spent some time travelling through Australia and southeast Asia.
In Thailand, he enrolled spur-of-the-moment in a Mui Thai kick-boxing camp.
“It was just a month and it was brutal, brutal training, but it was the most satisfying feeling when you made it through to the end of the day,” he said. “Those little Thai guys are small, but they’re intimidating and they’ve been training their entire life. When they tell you to do something, you do it. And if you don’t think you can do it, you do it anyways. They push you to levels you’d never get to on your own.”
Surviving the experience inspired W*******.
He already knew he loved mixed martial arts, but until Thailand he was hedging his bets about making it a careeer. He left Thailand with an unshakable feeling that he was now capable of hanging with the big boys.
“I’m so much more focused and I’m pushing myself so much farther than I did before Thailand,” he said. “I’ve been improving ever since I got back, and it’s addictive. As you reap the rewards, you just want more.”
Utilizing the expertise and contacts of Chilliwack’s Revolution Martial Arts and the Revolution Fight Team, W******* has trained hard and fought twice, winning both in convincing fashion.
“The first one (in Vernon) was pretty quick,” he said. “It took 44 seconds to beat the guy. We exchanged some punches, and then I dropped him with a couple knees to the body. I pounded on him until the referee pulled me off.”
That fight was last October, and it took until May 29 for the next one, when he travelled to Prince George for another one-sided bout.
“This one was a little bit longer, one minute and 44 seconds,” W****** recalled. “Once again, we exchanged some punches, and then I caught him with a head kick that stunned him. He took me to the ground, and I eventually caught him in an arm-bar to finish him.”
Finding fights has been challenging.
W******’s trainers try to match him up against fighters of similar weight and experience, but the supply is short in a sport that is still struggling to gain acceptance at the grass-roots level.
“It’s already mainstream on a national scale, especially in Canada where we’ve got the highest pay-per-view sales per capita for UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship),” he said. “The sport is here to stay, no matter what, but the trick at my level is being able to fight sanctioned fights in safe circumstances. We don’t want shady organizations that don’t take care of their fighters. If I can’t fight in B.C., I’ll go to the United States or Alberta or whatever. It’s going to happen anyways, so might as well give people what they want.”
It took one-and-a-half years of training and sparring for W******’s trainers to green-light him for live action, a testament to the cautious approach legitimate organizations take. By the time he finally stepped into the ring, W***** couldn’t have been more prepared.
“In heavy sparring they dress you up in shin pads, heavy gloves and head gear and you really go,” W******* said. “But even there, when you stun a guy you back off instead of trying to hurt him, and that’s the difference. In a real fight, you see them hurt and you need that killer instinct to jump on them right away. It’s totally different mentally between fighting a teammate and fighting some guy who’s legitimately trying to hurt you.”
With that in mind, W******* admitted to being nervous before his debut bout. But he wasn’t about to let some butterflies get in the way.
“It’s normal to be nervous, but you can’t let it get in your head,” he explained. “A lot of people let it get in their heads, and they end up super intense. They lose focus on what they’ve trained to do, and they get exhausted real fast. It’s better if you can push the nerves aside and relax before a fight.”
W******* brings a more measured and cerebral approach to the sport than many of his competitors.
He struggles to harness that mean streak that many fighters consider so integral to their success, and his calm demeanor has led his coach at Revolution, Kajan Johnson, to dub him the ‘Gentle Giant.’
“I’m not a violent person in real life and I like the mental challenge of mixed martial arts more than hurting someone,” W******* said. “But if a guy hits you, it’s instinctive behaviour to be aggressive back to him. I can turn it on when I need to, but only at the appropriate time.”
W******* has taken inspiration from some of the top competitors in UFC, guys who are stone-cold calm no matter what the situation.
“There are guys who are extremely emotional, but generally you see them being reckless, wasting energy and getting caught in a mistake,” W******* said. “You can get far as an aggressive, mean tough guy. But if you want to get the furthest, just be a blank slate. That’s what I try to do.”
Tall and lanky at six-foot-three, W******** is at his best using his reach to rain down punches and kicks from a distance. He’s at his worst when an opponent gets inside and he has to engage in wrestling.
How successful he is at maximizing his strengths and minimizing his weaknesses will determine how far he goes.
“My trainers want me to win five fights at the amateur level,” W****** said. “I’ve got two, and if I keep winning in the first round, or come back from Brazil looking a lot better, maybe they’ll accelerate things a bit. From there, it’s on to pro and it’s all about who you beat. In this sport, it’s really about who you know and who sees you. It could be a long haul or it could be quick. A lot can happen.”
Get more information on the Revolution Fight Team online at Revolution Martial Arts | MMA | Brazilian Jiu Jitsu | Muay Thai Kickboxing | Boxing | Judo