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Westin Wilson poses on the scale at UFC APEX on January 12, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

A Balanced Westin Wilson

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Fighters generally don’t like to train over the holidays because, hey, who wants to diet while everyone else is eating like a fat kid? But when you’ve been in the business long enough, like Westin Wilson has, it’s part of the gig. And truth be told, said Wilson, “I, historically, have done very well when I fight in January.”

But then those plates pass him by on Thanksgiving and Christmas as he chews on a celery stick.

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“I tell myself, why the hell do I do this?” laughs Wilson, who saw another holiday season pass him by in 2023 as he prepared for his second walk to the Octagon this Saturday against Jean Silva.

I tell him that’s the most honest answer I’ve ever received in over 20 years in the MMA business.

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“I'm an open book, man,” said Wilson. “There's no reason to hide it. I joke with (friend and training partner Stephen) ‘Wonderboy’ (Thompson), but, literally, every time I get ready to fight, I'm like, I think this is my last fight. I don't want to do this anymore.”

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Considering that Wilson is about to embark on his 25th pro fight, those feelings don’t hold for too long, and as soon as the fight on hand is over, he starts mentally preparing for the next one.

“A hundred percent. If you win, you'll be like, yeah, I'll do another one. Then if you lose, you're like, I can't go out on a loss. I gotta do another one.”

Opponents Westin Wilson and Jean Silva of Brazil face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on January 12, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Opponents Westin Wilson and Jean Silva of Brazil face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on January 12, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Which brings him to Las Vegas and his meeting with Silva. It’s Wilson’s first bout since a loss in his short notice UFC debut in July against Joanderson Brito, so you knew he’d be back to at least try to return to the win column; but, more importantly, the 34-year-old out of Simpsonville, South Carolina wants to show what he can do on the sport’s biggest stage with a full training camp.

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“Heck yeah,” he laughs. “Ten days versus ten weeks. Maybe even more than 10 weeks. But you know what to expect. You've been through it. You can visualize the whole process. You can visualize what your fight week's going to be. You can visualize how the weight cut's going to be, you know what the rooms look like. For me, everything's the exact same. There's no more guessing and imagining.”

This time, all that matters is the fight, which sounds simple enough, but for Wilson, this second go-round comes with the same doubters that showed up for the Brito fight. It’s annoying, for sure, but Wilson is taking everything with class.

Westin Wilson kicks Joanderson Brito of Brazil in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Westin Wilson kicks Joanderson Brito of Brazil in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“I've been working towards this for several years,” he said of his first UFC bout. “From the moment I said I wanted to be a fighter to the moment I made my debut was almost 20 years. And so, making that walk, I remembered that, and was almost overcome with tears of joy. I finally made it. The thing that surprised me was the amount of haters there are.”

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He laughs.

“One of my favorite tweets I saw about my debut, it made me laugh so hard,” he recalled. “The guy said, ‘Weston Wilson sucked so bad, they had to play highlights of ‘Wonderboy.’”

Not surprisingly, while Thompson is the nicest guy in MMA, Wilson is closing in on that unofficial crown, not at all miffed about such an intro.

“Honestly, it was the best thing ever,” said Wilson. “I freaking loved it. I loved all of it. There was no way that it was going to upset me at all. And even the fight, nobody had me winning the fight. Nobody had me doing anything, as well. But I think I pushed him more than anybody has ever pushed Brito. Hell, he had to cheat just to get out of the heel hook and grab the fence. So it's a game of inches, a game of seconds. And we were literally an inch away from getting the finish.”

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Instead, it was Brito stopping Wilson at the 2:54 mark, and it was back to the drawing board, which was just fine for a father and husband who is always learning, always working and always trying to attack life, and not just wait for it to happen to him. He calls it balance. He’s right.  

UFC Fight Night: Ankalaev vs Walker 2 took placelive from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on January 13, 2024. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!