In recent years we have seen many kickboxers make a successful transition to MMA, specifically fighters who have represented Glory from the legend that is Alistair Overeem to the modern day superstar that is Israel Adesanya, and all those in between such as Gokhan Saki and more recently Alex Pereira. As of Sunday the 26th of July 2021 you can add a new name to the list: Jason Wilnis.
Jason Wilnis is a Dutch kickboxer with a record of (31-9-1) and is the last It’s Showtime 85MAX champion and a former Glory Middleweight Champion. Wilnis has been ranked in the middleweight top ten by Combat Press since September 2014 and at his peak was ranked number one between October 2016 and May 2017.
Some notable success include on 10th November 2012 when Wilnis challenged Alex Pereira for the It’s Showtime 85MAX championship in São Paulo Brazil at It’s Showtime 60 event, at this event Wilnis became the last It’s Showtime champion by 2nd-round TKO. Dropping Pereira three times in round 2 with low kicks.
Wilnis defeated Simon Marcus for the Glory Middleweight championship at Glory 33. Wilnis won the fight by TKO in the third round, managing to knock Marcus down three times in the third round.
For his first title defense, Wilnis defeated current UFC superstar Israel Adesanya at Glory 37. Wilnis won the fight by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47).
July 26th 2021, Wilnis made the move to mixed martial arts after signing a deal with Netherlands-based Levels Fight League (LFL) . He dispatched Erhan Okuroglu early on in devestating fashion by a first-round technical knockout following up a straight left with a huge right hand dropping his opponent before finishing him with several strikes on the floor leading to the referee stopping the fight.
After his successful MMA debut I was fortunate to catch up with Jason Wilnis to go over his debut and discuss some key points in his successful career.
Congratulations Jason on a successful MMA debut against Erhan Okuroglu, how did it feel to be back in there and how was it under mma rules?
Thank you! It feels great of course because I’m always working hard and it was a long waited moment to make my debut so very happy with it. It felt different: the gloves, the wrestling against the cage, the striking, but I liked it.
What have you found different in preparing for an MMA fight in comparison to kickboxing has there been any difficulties for you?
Yes, so like I had to do a lot more ground work and wrestling. A lot of things were different also that I switched of team and I work different now more then before.
You’re one of a select group of fighters to hold a victory over Israel Adesanya, as well as impressive victories over big names in kickboxing such as Alex Pereira and Joe Schilling where does your MMA debut rank as a important victory for you?
Of course my debut was an important one and long waited one, people think i do mma for a year of few months but like i said i’m working in this a long time and looking forward to take some names to with a Victory.. just like in kickboxing. Adesanya is the biggest name in this division but in my head i know i beat ‘m and i know that my quality is high so thats a motivation for me.
Prior to this recent fight you hadn’t competed since August 2020 was there ever any doubt of you getting back in there and doing what you do best?
Yes I come after a gym switch and 3 kickboxing losses.. I had to take my time and me and my coach we understand each other very well so first a had to set these things right and plan it out good for me and this is the good timing. MMA and looking forward from this. We have plans.
Over the years we have seen many big names come from Glory and dominate mma Alistair Overeem and Israel Adesanya most notably, why do you think it has been such a successful transition and can we look forward to seeing the same from you?
I think because we understand the striking game good. And we are used to striking, so if you train it good and become smart in it you can have a good fight, so for me also i think i can do things in the cage if i play it right.
You have spent some time training with Alistair Overeem in the past how did those sessions help you with transitioning into mma and how invaluable is it to learn from someone like Overeem?
We didnt trained that much we had a time back sparring, and now we have trained only once the last time mma training. But it was good alistair is a legend and he gave me some tips and tricks so its always the best to learn from such a big name. We supposed to train more but the corona shit came and i had these problems at my own gym i was leaving them and i didnt train with a team for a while only sometimes myself.
Are you solely focused on MMA now or can we look forward to seeing you back in a kickboxing ring?
I tryna do both, but for now its all mma. Better for my trainings also to become better i focus on mma fuly.
After such a successful kickboxing career what targets have you set yourself in mma?
We have some plans i am working with people wo help me with MMA like a manager and stuff soon more about that. But for now i am just fighting making my name with these kind of fights let the people know about me and grow/build and become even a bigger star then in kickboxing.
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