Jason Wilnis set to continue winning streak at KSW 70

Jason Wilnis talks MMA and his recent experiences
Published on May 25, 2022, 6:28:23 PM

Dutch mixed martial artist Jason Wilnis hopes to continue his unbeaten status in the discipline this Saturday at the KSW 70 event. He will try to do that against the Pole Radoslaw Paczuski who is defending a similar track record.

Both fighters only recently made the switch over from kickboxing, where Wilnis in particular had built up a strong resume over the past years. His win over Nigerian born, New Zealand native Israel Adesanya, who currently holds the world middleweight title, is perhaps the most impressive and has left Wilnis in awe.

Days before his upcoming fight, Warrior Code had the opportunity to speak to the man himself about what awaits him this weekend and his experience in the sport so far and the recent switch. It is clear it hasn’t left unmoved.

Wilnis: “Normally the 8-9 weeks I set aside for camp would be more than enough, but I felt like I had to get to grips with a completely new sport.”

Still, Wilnis is positive about the point where he has been able to get and sees this last week mainly as the moment in which the dots are put on the i's and the t’s are crossed. A final run through all the techniques and trying to sweat a lot to get to the ideal weight. Wilnis' mantra: “Less is more, I always think in this last week, no more doing crazy things.”

It did take a while before Wilnis found his place in the sport. For example, he tells us about how he initially had to convince his trainer and coach to take the step with him because they felt that he might miss out on a glorious second part of his kickboxing career. In order to be able to participate seriously in MMA on a sporting level, Wilnis had to considerably expand his team of supervisors.

Wilnis does not only take the physical side of the sport extremely seriously, it is also clear that building up mental resilience plays an equally important role for him. Wilnis: “Outside the gym I try to read a lot of books and spend a lot of time meditating to minimise the number of distractions. I noticed that at one point I almost had chronic sleep deprivation and I felt that enormously during the training sessions. It hindered my progress.”

He goes on to say: “Not that I am a bear that is constantly hibernating when not in training but I came to the conclusion that if I want to perform at my peak, I have to be very well rested and, therefore, I have to sleep a lot. I also try to go out into nature a lot to find distraction.”

Wilnis against Jacob Rodriguez

In addition to his faith (Wilnis is a practicing muslim), from which he learns a lot about how to approach life, Wilnis also tries to read many biographies of other top athletes in the hopes of learning valuable lessons about how to approach your sport.

Wilnis: “Everyone always talks about the physical, how we look and how we look in the photo, but mental health is always completely ignored. I was dealing with stress some time ago and I found that I had to pay serious attention to it to prevent it from getting worse. The team I worked with at the time was not at all preoccupied as to whether this aspect actually existed.”

Jason Wilnis

What is remarkable and at the same time admirable about Wilnis is his level-headedness: “To come back to those unwanted distractions, I very much try to minimise the number of distractions and to stay with myself. In the end, I'm also the one who has to make it in the ring in a minute. Unfortunately, no one else can do that for me.

It's obvious Wilnis is take the aspect of mental health incredibly serious but, of course, it isn't something that is necessarily widely spoken about yet. How does Wilnis see his own role in that conversation?

“What I find interesting is that martial artists like me have so many weapons in their arsenal to win a fight, but when we talk about that we only think about the physical context. It completely ignores how you can strengthen yourself as a fighter on a mental level and how that can become a very important weapon in itself. There is a kind of discrepancy between all the work you do in the gym, the literal muscles you see appearing on your body, and the resilience of your mind that is left behind.”

“Of course we should not downplay the impact of the sport. You're really fighting for your life in a way, to keep going, and that thought alone puts so much pressure on you. In addition, I will soon be standing in an arena where I will also be facing 11,000 Poles who are all chanting my opponent's name and jeering at me, and that while I also have to win the fight myself, you can imagine what pressure that exerts.”

Wilnis will perform in the Atlas arena next Saturday in Lodz, Poland. The event starts at 7pm and can be followed live via KSW Live PPV.

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