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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)
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Westin Wilson Only Sees Opportunities

Seeking His First UFC Victory, Westin Wilson Feels As Confident As Ever Heading Into UFC Fight Night: Perez vs Taira

You might not have guessed Simpsonville, South Carolina to be a tough crowd full of MMA critics, but the land of Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and his teammate Westin Wilson apparently has a few folks with a strong opinion about the fight game.

Case in point, Wilson, who enters the Octagon for the third time this weekend against Indonesia’s Jeka Saragih, really wants to get his hand raised, even more than usual.

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“For my kids' sake, I've got to win a couple fights because the neighborhood kids are making fun of me, too,” laughed Wilson, who thought he had enough to deal with when it came to trolls on social media. Now it’s down the block.

Westin Wilson punches Jean Silva of Brazil in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Westin Wilson punches Jean Silva of Brazil in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“We have an eight-year-old kid in the neighborhood who was talking trash to my daughter, saying, ‘Yeah, your dad would be cool if he won fights, but he hasn't. So he sucks.’”

You can almost see Wilson smiling through the phone as he recounts the story. And it is one of the best ones I’ve heard in a while.

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“It made my daughter so mad,” he continues. “My four-year-old, she punched him and she's like, 
‘You don't talk about my dad.’ That started a whole fight with all the neighborhood kids. So it was funny. Kids these days and social media, everything, it's ruthless, man. So I told my kids, ‘Look, I'm going to win this one. We got the perfect game plan. We've done everything right, all negativity's been purged out of the house around fighting and everything else. It's bulletproof. We just got to show up and the rest will take care of itself.’”

Wilson’s earned some good karma after a tough start to his UFC career that includes a pair of stoppage losses to Joanderson Brito and Jean Silva, and though Saragih is no slouch, he’s also not Brazilian, so that’s got to be a positive sign for a change in the weather, right?

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“It’s still the same problems, getting messages from Indonesian fans telling me I suck and I'm going to die, but at least I don't understand what they're saying,” said Wilson, who, if we’re going strictly by personality, should be the undisputed featherweight champion of the world. But you gotta fight the fights, and more importantly, you’ve got to win them. Wilson, 16-9 as a pro, is well aware of that reality, but win, lose or draw, he’s a lifer in the sport – has been since he watched Tito Ortiz defeat Evan Tanner at UFC 30 in 2001.

“I was doing this before it was cool, and I was wanting to do this stuff before it was cool, but then I had parents who were middle class America and were like, you’ve got to do everything middle class Americans do. Go to school, get a job, have a family. So I was like, okay, I'll do all that. But yeah, I don't know. I've been addicted to it since I was a kid.”

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And while he’s fulfilled the wishes of his mom and dad, who will be in attendance for his fight this weekend, he eventually had to go back to what he loved for himself, and since turning pro nearly a decade ago, he hasn’t paused once to look in the rearview mirror. That focus (and ability to multitask) landed him in the UFC, and now getting the chance to compete in front of his family adds a little extra to fight night.

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)

“Everybody's excited and I'm super stoked,” said Wilson. “I used to look at the APEX and be like, ‘Oh man, I'd love to fight in front of a big crowd.’ But I think the third time's a charm. I'm used to it and I don't mind it anymore. I am not looking at it as a negative; it's an opportunity. I get to have fun and live my dream, and I think I'm past all the nerves and wondering what people think about me and things like that. I'm just going to go and do what I love to do.”

And if he needs backup, he’s got plenty, starting with his four-year-old daughter.

“My four-year-old is daddy's girl,” said Wilson. “She calls me her handsome boy, and she tells my wife, ‘I don't like you because you're married to dad.’ (Laughs) She's got charisma and she's so funny. She cracks me up that one. And then my middle, I don't think she cared as much (about the eight-year-old trash talker). And my oldest, she cared too because she was like, ‘Yeah, I was ready to go if things went south.’ So I was like, all right, it's nice to know that my girls got my back.”

UFC Fight Night: Perez vs Taira took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 15, 2024. See the final Prelim and Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass