Daryl Wilson returns to action Thursday at XFN 357 on UFC Fight Pass

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After almost a year off, Daryl Wilson will be fighting at XFN 357 on Thursday April 4, 2019, at the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, OK. He will be joined by fellow Thunderkick fighter Igor Lyashchenko. It will be televised live worldwide on UFC Fight Pass. Get your tickets now at xfnfighting.com/.

Q: Tell us about your fight.

Daryl: April 4th at the River Spirit Casino and my first fight since last June. I'm fighting Tyler Ingram. I don't know where he's from. He's undefeated, 2 - 0, a Bellator vet, coming down from 170 to meet me at 165. So I'm just looking to get into it and let some knuckles loose.

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Q: So you're fighting at 165 then?

Daryl: 165.

Q: What was your fighting weight a year ago?

Daryl: 155.

Q: Are you moving up in weight?

Daryl: It's kind of like a catch weight. After this I'll be going back down. For this fight I'm kind of going up a little bit. But after this fight I'll be going back down.

Q: Just watching you train around the gym and stuff, you look like you're thicker, that you put on more muscle. Bigger, thicker, and sturdier.

Daryl: (Laughing) Right, well I'm definitely a little bit bigger a little thicker and we're gonna try to get back down, you know, a little thinner.

Q: Yeah more muscular.

Daryl: Right yeah I was doing a little strength training for a little bit, but I wasn't really losing the weight like I needed to. And I needed a little bit more cardio involved with it, so I took over that on my own. I had somebody doing it with me, and started putting these circuits together and now the weight has been dropping steadily. Plus eating better works too, not that I was eating crap before. But what I'm eating now are clean organic foods. Plus on top of that I'm just pushing my body to the limit. I have a heart rate monitor where I'm trying to keep track of my heart rate. I'm trying to keep it at a high pace, where I'm constantly at a high cardio state. Of course whenever you're sparring, you're already like that. Everything is tense and your heart rate is already going. My conditioning stuff is the thing I'm trying to really push. I can tell a difference - my weight is starting to drop in line now.

Q: Are you doing long distance type cardio or are you doing interval cardio?

Daryl: Interval. And I'll do a little bit of running too. But you know Oklahoma weather - you wake up one morning and it's 12 degrees and you wake up the next morning, it is raining and it's 70. So it's hit or miss. I went on a six mile run last Sunday. I have to take it when the weather's nice. Other than that, just working some long pad rounds. Wearing myslef out in like two rounds, and I've got 8 rounds of pad work and by the 8th round I'm already tired and really pushing it, that long long cardio.

Q: So a focus of this camp is dropping weight?

Daryl: I wouldn't say that's a focus of the camp. It's just a byproduct of the way I'm training to get ready for the fight. It's just a byproduct. The focus of the the camp is to try to push myself to new limits than I had before. I've had a little bit of a layoff, where I kind of had a refocus, even though I came off a win my last fight. It's just I've faught for so long, I took a little bit of a break to kind of regroup and let some stuff heal up. I'm starting to get back into it, and I have some new injuries but that comes with every camp. Just small little bumps and bruises and stuff. But yeah that's really been the main focus is just try to push myself to new limits and that's what I'm really trying to do here this next year, just try to take my career to the next level.

Q: When you talk about new limits are you talking mentally stronger, are you talking about skills...

Daryl: Everything, everything man. I'd definitely say a big part of my fight career is the mental aspect of it. Most of my pro fight career has been pretty good. I go in there with a good mentality, ready to have fun and just to let my technique go. And it's really done well for me. Most of my wins, most of my pro fights are finishes. I finished my opponents. And both of the losses I've had in my pro career really came from me taking the fight too serious. Not saying that I shouldn't be taking the fight serious, but it came from letting the pressure get to me. I'm like okay there's a lot of the right people watching, everybody's watching. I've got to do this and the UFC will call. I just kind of went in the fight with that in my head, focusing on winning and winning in a dominant fashion. I didn't go in there to have fun and to let everything go, and they just backfired on me both times. So the last fight I had I went in there with the mindset of just going in and just having fun, let everything work. Everything always works in my favor when I do that. So I'm trying to move forward with that mentality when I fight. Even when the UFC calls, I'm going to keep the same mentality: go in there and have fun, just let it all go.

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Q: A key part as a fighter is discovering yourself and the best way that you flow.

Daryl: Right! Exactly! And that's something I've had to tell myself in the past is to try to establish a rhythm, and everything will work off that rhythm. Be in that flow and let everything just kind of flow and come naturally. Whenever I do that in my fights is when I finish people! So it's just a matter of getting my mind there every time, whatever I'm fighting, and not let not any of the build up and everything around the flight take hold, and take control. Instead just sinking in there and do what I do in the gym.

Q: You mentioned taking things to the next level in your fighting career. What what does that mean for you?

Daryl: To make this a career. Try to get to the UFC, and try to make this a career. I'm 26, I still have quite a bit of time left. A lot of people still haven't hit their peak at 26, they don't really hit that until they're 30. I think I have a lot of room for improvement. I think I'm dangerous for a lot of people when it comes to my striking. My grappling, I think my jiu-jitsu is good. It's just a matter of putting everything together, and going out there and attacking people with everything. I want to try to ramble off some fights this year and see what happens.

Q: Which promotions do you want to fight for on the way up to the UFC?

Daryl: I'll flight for whoever. I'm looking to fight the best opponent I can, in the right promotion that'll get me there. I'm ready to fight and start collecting names until the UFC comes knocking.

Q: Are you looking for more local fights in the tri-state area, or are you looking for more nationwide fights?

Daryl: Nationwide. If people call from Texas or wherever, I'm willing to go travel and fight.

Q: How else are you trying to promote yourself into the UFC, to get that attention?

Daryl: Not really. I'm not really the kind to talk. I would if someone's running their mouth. I'm not scared to talk, but you know, it's really not me. I just really go in there and fight - let's do it. I think I have the technical abilities to stand out. That's really what I'm looking for. As long as I want to fight, as long as I do what I know I can do, and just let my hands fly, I think I'll stand out.

Q: You're genetically gifted. You're a long fighter. You've got strength. You have the natural intelligence to quickly pick up technique and apply it. You're technical and you see those openings right away. So you have that natural gifting to be able to get that UFC career...

Daryl: Yeah that's the plan. After this fight I would like to fight four or five times within a year's time. I'm not gonna say I'm gonna try to finish, I'm going in there to to do what I do, and that's fine. And if I do that I should finish people. By the end of that year with four or five fights I think the UFC should be calling.

Q: What is your support network helping you get to that point?

Daryl: Good teammates. Of course it starts with your team. I have good guys around me to push me. All the guys in the gym do a good job of pushing me, being there to hold pads and all that stuff. Then outside of the gym, my fiance Kaitlyn is supportive. She's understanding. Most of the time she doesn't bug me about going to the gym. She knows what I want to do, that I need to be here. My family, they support me. They love to come out and watch me fight. And when I'm not fighting, they're always asking me, "When are you gonna fight? You need to fight." So everybody is really supportive, I couldn't do it without everybody. Thomas, all the teammates, family, friends... just everybody together. They just make this journey so much easier.

Q: You and Thomas have had a long standing relationship, and he's helped groom you from from the beginning, right?

Daryl: Right when I came to Thomas, all I had was a wrestling background. When I came to Thomas, I mean I knew how to throw a punch. It wasn't wild haymakers, I knew how to throw a punch. It wasn't sharp by any means. But Thomas forged me to what I am. There's been a few outside influences, boxing coach Jerome Yazzie really helped with my hands. But my style, my game, I think really developed from Thomas. Watching Thomas's fights, Thomas was big about telling me, "Hey watch this guy. You can learn some stuff from this guy. Watch this other guy." So I would go watch those guys, and I watched Thomas's fights. I think I'm a product of all those fighters. And of course I learned what to look for. There's other guys that I found myself watching, I try to pick up some stuff, and bring some of their stuff they work into my game. I formed my style which works for my length and everything like that. Thomas is definitely the biggest. I'd say like I'm 85% a forged product of Thomas Longacre. My ground game, I had a wrestling background coming in, so it's easier to adapt to jiu-jitsu. But me and Thomas grew together on the ground. Of course Thomas knew more than me with his background as a MMA fighter before I even started fighting. You know, I started doing gi before Thomas did, but we've been really good at pushing each other to the next level back and forth with jiu-jitsu. Now he can't spar with me anymore - he has too many injuries, but I'm thankful I still get to roll with him.

Q: Do well in your next fight Daryl!

Ben Greenwood