Sport Jason Wilnis buoyed by kickboxing win over Israel Adesanya ahead of MMA debut

19:41  24 july  2021
19:41  24 july  2021 Source:   mmajunkie.com

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Jason Wilnis is the latest kickboxer entering MMA who has history with UFC champion Israel Adesanya.

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Wilnis beat Adesanya in a somewhat controversial unanimous decision at GLORY 37 in January 2017, defending his 187-pound title in the process. It was Adesanya’s second-to-last kickboxing fight, and shortly thereafter he committed full time to MMA, rising the ranks to conquer the UFC’s middleweight division.

While that happened, Wilnis has been training MMA behind closed doors. His kickboxing record may have suffered as consequence – as he’s lost five of six since beating Adesanya – but it’s all built toward an MMA debut of his own.

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On Sunday it will happen when Wilnis clashes with Erhan Okuroglu in the main event of Levels Fight League 2, which takes place in Amsterdam and streams on the promotion’s website as well as FITEtv.

“My MMA debut is a long time coming,” Wilnis told MMA Junkie. “I tried to switch from kickboxing to MMA about four or five years ago and I was training a lot in wrestling and grappling but my coaches at the time didn’t feel it was the right time.

“I feel like kickboxing has become very limited for me and very one-dimensional. I want to use my elbows, I want to grapple, and I want to get the best out of me and my career and challenge myself.”

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The 30-year-old Dutch fighter seemingly has the tools and dedication to thrive in MMA. And that’s his full intention. He hopes for a smooth debut in his new sport, and after gaining some experience has his sights set on the bigger promotions. The fact he holds a win over Adesanya is sure to bring added attention, and he welcomes it.

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“My goal in MMA is to give everything in Levels Fight League and grow as an MMA fighter and then get to the UFC or Bellator,” Wilnis said. “I am coming into the sport with a win over the current UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya which is good to have for me no doubt. … I’m just excited to enter the sport and move onto the next stage of my career.”

It’s hard not to see the past connection between Wilnis and Adesanya and not wonder about a potential rematch in MMA. It’s a long way off at this point, but Wilnis’ goal is to find the type of success Adesanya has discovered in MMA after switching over.

He can’t deny it would be a great story if he could position himself to make the fight happen, but Wilnis said he’s not fixated on it and is focused on creating his own career.

“I’ve seen his rise through the UFC and I would be lying if I didn’t say that was somewhat of a motivation for me,” Wilnis said. “But my thoughts on MMA started before him. If I get to the UFC and our paths cross, I would fight him again for sure. However, I am on my own journey, and I would not say fighting him is a particular goal of mine.

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