Westin Wilson: 1st UFC Win a ‘Fantastic Feeling’

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Westin Wilson (17-9 MMA, 1-2 UFC) picked up his first UFC win in a big way when he submitted Jeka Saragih in less than two minutes at the UFC event held Saturday at the Apex.

Wilson submitted Saragih with a triangle armbar, but it was a series of grappling moves that set up the tap-out. Wilson went for an arm-in guillotine and had a choice to make at that point.

“He was trying to roll out of it, and it wasn’t even very tight,” Wilson told MMASucka. “But he was trying to roll out of it and basically give me mount. So I could have rolled mount. I heard my coaches yelling, ‘Do this to roll to mount.’ Then he sunk his arm in deeper, and that gave me a really tight grip on the arm. He hunched over; I had his arm. With his free arm, he was trying to land heavy ground and pound. That gave me the triangle. Right before the slam, I knew that I had the triangle. I just had to break the slam and it would be locked in. After the slam, I realized I had the arm. At that point I knew, after he he slammed me, I knew I had it locked in, and he would tap.”

Wilson went into the Saragih fight with a grappling-heavy game plan.

“I don’t mean this in a negative way at all, but a lot of people from Southeast Asia, their wrestling is not very good,” he said. “They’re not known for having spectacular wrestling, and they’re known for having very good striking. Watching his fights and watching him get demolished by  [Anshul] Jubli on the ground, I look and I was like, ‘Man, I’m a very similar build to Jubli, but I think my ground [game] is better than his. So we just saw that as a huge opportunity to get a quick easy win.”

Wilson entered the fight with Saragih with his back against the wall: with losses to Jean Silva and Joanderson Brito, he was likely fighting for his UFC job. He made the promotion in 2023, 23 fights into his professional career. Wilson was able to avoid the mental pressure, however.

“I actually kind of removed myself from the result of the fight. I didn’t feel the pressure that I was fighting for my job,” he said. “I had come to terms that I was OK if I got cut. I was OK if I’d fight again [in the UFC]. I had plans for either scenario. I was OK with either path that was presented my way. But obviously, getting that win was so much better than going home with a loss. My main thing was that I wanted to perform because in the Jean Silva fight, I didn’t perform at all. That wasn’t me in the cage. Everybody had this idea of me being a terrible fighter. I just wanted to go in and prove people wrong. Me being able to do that and show I belong here and I can hang with some of the best, it was such a fantastic feeling. Being able to share that with my wife, my brother and my parents who were there in attendance, that was cool as well. I’m super happy the UFC has started letting family come in and watch at the Apex.”

The physical actually affected Wilson more than the mental heading into the fight.

“I started getting a chest cold and a sore throat Monday before the fight,” he said. “I was taking as much Vitamin C as I could possibly take. And finally, my body gave out after the fight. I’ve been sick dealing with that. Other than that, I’m great. I’m fantastic.”

In 2019, Wilson, a Mormon, previously told MMASucka that the Mormon Church, which extends worldwide, has come a long way toward accepting MMA as a sport. He said he originally fell in love with MMA due to the strategy and competition that fights and the preparation are based on. Educating his religion and community in those core values of MMA has become something of a personal mission of Wilson’s.

Mormons’ acceptance of MMA has come even further in those five years since, Wilson said. He speaks to youth groups, and his fellow churchgoers follow his career and show support. He also pointed to UFC shows in Salt Lake City, Utah, selling well.

“Salt Lake is one of the biggest fight cards the UFC does now, as well,” he said. “They have huge crowds show up to that arena. They sell that arena out every time. The UFC has embraced the area. The Mormons definitely embraced the sport, and just the fact that their Salt Lake event is always a massive event, and they do really well and do really good numbers there.”

Wilson said he wants his next fight to be in Salt Lake City this fall.

“I would really like to fight Herbert Burns,” he said. “Just because Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson fought Gilbert Burns, and I want to avenge that loss in a way. Herbert Burns is the guy I want to fight.”

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Michael is a big MMA fan who enjoys interviewing the sport's athletes, writing about the sport, and just discussing it. He earned his Master's in Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and his B.A. in Journalism at Stony Brook University. He also enjoys hockey, football and baseball. Feel free to hit him up if you want to discuss MMA, or any other sport!