Heavyweight MMA fighter Liron Wilson was a collegiate track and football standout. At six-foot-four-inches and 235-pounds, Liron is a tall athletic heavyweight. He turned professional in 2007 and is a vetaran of the Gladiator Challenge and War Gods promotions. Coming off a loss last November and then being sidelined with a leg injury, Liron got the call a little over a week ago for his next fight.
All healed up and ready to go, Liron Wilson will be fighting this Saturday May 23rd in Cortez, Colorado at “King of the Cage: El Lobo” at the Ute Mountain Casino. PRO MMA (promma.info) had the privilege of speaking to the up-and-coming heavyweight about getting back in the cage after the layoff and making the cut for The Ultimate Fighter season 10 tryouts.
Liron also shares some challenges as well as advice for young fighters who are thinking of choosing professional MMA as a career path. He talks about the importance of having a good manager or agent and what is necessary for that relationship to flourish.
PRO MMA: Hello Liron. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at PRO MMA (promma.info). How are you doing?
LIRON: I’m doing good man, thanks.
PRO MMA: Where are you from Liron?
LIRON: Originally, from Fresno, California.
PRO MMA: Your manager tells me you played football and track in college and was a Collegiate National track champion. Where did you go to school?
LIRON: University of La Verne (in La Verne, California). I was national champ in track, 2 x All-American, and All-Conference in football.
PRO MMA: How long have you been into mixed martial arts and how did you get started?
LIRON: I’ve been in mixed martial arts since around 2004. After I got done playing football I started taking some kickboxing classes. One thing led to another, I entered an amateur tournament and won it, and here I am now.
PRO MMA: Where do you currently train MMA?
LIRON: I train my mixed martial arts at Millennia MMA in Rancho Cucamonga, California. I train with guys like Javier Vazquez, Manny Tapia, William Sriyapai, Wes Combs. There’s a gang of decent level guys there.
PRO MMA: Who has been helping you mainly for this fight coming up?
LIRON: Will Richey. He fights for MFC and King of the Cage. We don’t have too many big guys over there. A guy named Saul Maldonado trains with me a lot. He always corners me.
PRO MMA: I understand you have a fight this Saturday in Cortez, Colorado for King of the Cage. Who is your opponent?
LIRON: I was told I will be fighting a guy named Jason Keith. He’s a two time state Greco-Roman wrestling champion. I was told he was a decent grappler and pretty good stand up, so I’m gonna go in there and slang and bang and see what happens.
PRO MMA: From what I hear, you took this fight on just a couple of weeks notice. How are you feeling going into this fight; do you feel ready to go?
LIRON: Yeah about ten days notice. I feel good man. I’m not a hundred percent but I’m at least 85 [percent], and that’s better than most guys. You know, everybody fights hurt, everybody fights banged up so…I’m pretty good.
PRO MMA: From what I could tell this looks like it is your first fight in 2009, is that right? If so, is there a reason you’ve waited this long?
LIRON: Yes that’s right. I tore my quad earlier this year, so I was letting that heal up completely before I jump back in. So, due to injuries.
PRO MMA: How many more times would you like to fight this year and at this stage of your career how many fights per year is ideal?
LIRON: Including this fight, about five times.Yeah, about five a year would be good right now.
PRO MMA: Are you able to fight full time now or do you have another job as well?
LIRON: I work at a gym. I work at L.A. Fitness, I’m a personal trainer and I also work at the college where I teach people MMA and kickboxing. So my job also intertwines with training.
PRO MMA: Do you want to get to the point where you can fight full time and not have to worry about a regular job?
LIRON: Yeah, that’s where we all want to be. Every fighter wants to get to that point. So yeah, that would be a great place to get to. But you know, I like teaching so I’ll always probably do that a little bit but I could definitely cut back on that and fight more.
PRO MMA: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to choose professional fighting as a career choice? What challenges might they face that they wouldn’t necessarily expect?
LIRON: The time you need to put into it. Most guys think, “Well I have a wrestling background, I wrestled in high school, so I can just come in here and take everybody down and that’ll be it.” But no, it doesn’t work like that. I tell everybody that wants to fight, you need to get a solid boxing and solid wrestling background probably before anything else because everything can be built off that. And you definitely got to put in at least four hours a day, five days a week if you want to be a fighter…at the least.
PRO MMA: I heard we may be seeing you on The Ultimate Fighter season 10. Tell me about that.
LIRON: Yeah, I went to the tryouts. I made it to the final cut, took the interview, now I’m just waiting on a phone call to see if I made it or not. Hopefully I do.
PRO MMA: Did they give you a time frame when you might hear from them.
LIRON: Yeah, but I’ve talked to other guys and no one has gotten the call and they aren’t even supposed to start filming until the end of summer I think, so…I’ll just hold on and wait and see.
PRO MMA: What do you think of this season of The Ultimate Fighter?
LIRON: Pretty good. I know a guy on there. One of my friends is on there, James Wilks, so it’s been pretty interesting watching that guy. He fought and won his first fight on there.
PRO MMA: How would you compare this season to past seasons?
LIRON: Country vs. country is a little different. It’s a little more competitive. I think the guys fight harder when it’s country against country instead of just red vs. blue or whatever. They seem to be taking it more seriously too.
PRO MMA: From what I could tell it looks like you weight about 240 lbs. is that close? Do you plan to cut down to light heavyweight in the future?
LIRON: Nah, I walk around about 230 lbs. and usually fight about 225 lbs. If the money is right, sure. I don’t like cutting weight though to be honest. For the right amount of money and the right amount of time, give me 6-8 weeks I could definitely cut to 205 lbs., but off of two weeks notice, no way.
PRO MMA: Have you fought at light heavyweight before?
LIRON: Nah. I mean, my body weight is already at like nine percent [body fat] so cutting weight is really going to suck for me, cutting that far down. Light heavyweight is a tougher weight class than heavyweight, I don’t care what anyone says. I’ve sparred with guys at the upper level in both weight classes and light heavyweight guys are faster, just as strong, and they got more in their tank, so it’s tougher fighting 205 lbs. then it is fighting heavyweight.
PRO MMA: How long have you been with MMA Agents and have you noticed a difference since being with them?
LIRON: Just a couple of months now. Yeah, stuff just keeps popping up. The TUF tryouts popped up, this fight popped up, another fight might pop up in a couple of weeks. I mean stuff just starts coming in more and more, faster. So a big thanks to those guys.
PRO MMA: How important is it for a professional fighter to have a manager?
LIRON: If you have the right manager, it’s a great opportunity. If he has the same goals you have, it’s great. If he has other goals than you, there might be problems. I’ve seen it happen in the gym a lot. You have to sit down and talk and make sure you are on the same page when you pick a manager or agent and everything should be great, cause you’ve gotta have the same goals and set the same standards and that’s what you both want. But when you both have different ways of thinking about things, there will be problems between you and the manager.
PRO MMA: I wish you the best of luck in your fight Saturday night. Do you have any final words you want to share or do you want to thank anyone?
LIRON: Yeah, I would like to thank Phil from Cold Forged for sponsoring me, also Mike from Booyaa for getting me this fight and for sponsoring me. I’d like to think Jason, Nate, and all the guys at MMA Agents, all the guys at Millennia MMA who help me train, Matt Durant at the University of La Verne who is my strength and conditioning coach, and anybody else who has helped me out over the years…Logan, everybody.
Check out these videos of Liron Wilson:
Liron Wilson vs. Doug Ridinger at “COF X: November Pain”
Liron Wilson grappling & MMA highlights
By: Jack Bratcher