Long Beach, CA — Now a lightweight, New Zealand’s Jay-Jay Wilson took a tough Vladimir Tokov the distance at Bellator 286, picking up a split decision win for his first victory at 155lbs.
“I feel amazing. I went out there, I got the job done. Not the way I wanted to, but I still accomplished the mission,” Wilson (9-1) told Cageside Press and other media outlets at the Long Beach Arena on Saturday.
Round after round, Wilson had his opponent trapped in a triangle. He felt for sure that in the third, he had the finish. “I went to the mount, I was like ‘it’s finished, it’s finished!’ and then he got out again. I’m like ‘oh my God.’ So I got to mount, I was trying to pound him, got his back, tried to choke him, he slipped out and I was like ‘f*ck! this guy doesn’t want to give up.’ But I loved it out there, can’t wait to do it again.”
Wilson was admittedly somewhat surprised by the Russian’s approach to the fight. “I actually expected him to trade punches, just a little bit. I thought he was going to come out there and at least try to throw some strikes, but everything was just to the shot.”
After dropping his debut at lightweight, the win was key for Wilson. Especially after having moved from California to Florida to change fight camps.
“I just made that big move from California to Florida. A new camp, a new everything. It’s fresh,” noted Wilson. The win helps him “prove to myself that my hard work and my sacrifice” was worth it, he added, especially given that he’s moved “across the states, moving to American Top Team at one of the biggest gyms in the world, with some of the greatest coaches like [King] Mo, like Steve Mocco, like Mike Brown, there’s several coaches over there that I could mention that are top level. Not only just that, but training partners like Renato Moicano, Marlon Moraes, just so many training partners that I have at American Top Team that made me go out and fight the way I did tonight.”
Next up for Wilson will hopefully be a spot in Bellator’s lightweight grand prix, expected to kick off in 2023. It’s something that “The Maori Kid” had targeted ahead of the fight.
“I feel like that punched my ticket to the lightweight grand prix. I know there’s quite a lot of people and it’s a super-stacked division; I think I deserve that shot, and I think it will be an opportunity of a life time for me. If Bellator will grant that for me, that will be one of my dreams come true.”
Watch the full Bellator 286 post-fight press conference with Jay-Jay Wilson above.