Tyshawn Williams

Tyshawn Williams making the leap from wrestling to MMA

Check out the full podcast with Tyshawn Williams!

Southern Illinois Edwardsville wrestler, Tyshawn Williams, just signed to SuckerPunch Entertainment has announced he is making the leap to mixed martial arts. Williams finished his senior season with a 74-58 record and looks to take his talents to a new sport.

Tyshawn Williams the wrestler

His senior year was unfortunately cut short as COVID-19 ended the wrestling season. But Williams looks to the future as a fighter. His martial arts career did begin with wrestling, however.

“I started wrestling when I was about eight years old. My cousin introduced me to the sport. We played multiple sports when we were young. Football, wrestling, boxing and track things like that, even baseball at times. I started to stick with wrestling throughout college because I felt like it made me stronger. Football I was fun but I just didn’t have the size at the time back in high school. So that’s kind of where my heart started out. My cousin introduced me to it and I just stuck with it ever since.”

Tyshawn Williams was going into the NCAA tournament ranked 19th. Having his final season of the sport he’s done since eight years old was a tough time for Williams.

“It was really tough. Honestly, it was really heartbreaking. I was on a roll. I wanted to finish out the tournament end up on a podium and things like that.” He continues, “It was real hard to take it first, it was it was crushing. You know, I really wanted to go out there and finish on that good note.”

The thought to transfer from wrestling to mixed martial arts was already long in place for Tyshawn Williams.

“It was already a decision we made a little early in my wrestling career when I came to college; that I was planning on fighting. My coach introduced me to Tyron Woodley at first. That was the first break of anything I did or seen MMA-wise. He introduced me to him. I was originally supposed to go out to England and fight with Darren Till, Mike Grundy and those guys. That was the plan. But that changed due to the virus. I’m going to stay home and we’re going to get it done here. We went to Liverpool last summer for Mike Grundy’s camp. They took to me and liked what I did. It was kind of sealed that I was going to fight.”

Williams the MMA fighter

Grappling is Williams’ strength. The hands is what he’s been working on. He’s taken the opportunity to train with some of the best boxers in the world to maximize his effectiveness on his feet.

“I’m in the gym with Coach Calvin. I’m with Gervonta Davis and other boxers. I’m in the gym with those guys making sure my hands are staying sharp. I practiced a little jiu jitsu here and there. Honestly, with my wrestling and growing up, I’ve been brawling all my life, if I’m being honest with you. I’m boxing now too.”

Tyshawn Williams hasn’t ignored submission grappling either. He’s started Jiu Jitsu and it’s caught him off guard early on.

“The first day I didn’t like how they kept grabbing my legs and stuff. I didn’t like it at first. Once they sat me down and told me, ‘Just wrestle.’ Then I was like, ‘Okay, this is kind of easy,'” said Williams with a laugh. “I realized it was kind of easy after that part.”

Now he knows where his game lies and has a good laugh about the advantage on the feet.

“They don’t try to wrestle me on their feet. The jiu jitsu guys never try to go at my feet. They’d rather start on their back. A few times when the guys started on their feet, I just took them down real quick.”

As for the transition to MMA itself, Williams is feeling good about what he’s been learning. He feels his style of wrestling will translate over well to MMA and looks forward to when the quarantine is fully lifted so he can put it all together.

“I think my transition is really good. The type of style of wrestling is explosive. I’m really quick, I’m strong, things are really good. My striking is doing well too. When I strike right now in the ring, I’m just sparring boxing. I’m not sparring everything. I’ve got to train at different places now that I’m home. The main thing is I know when I am striking and transitioning to my wrestling, I feel like it’s really smooth.”


Williams’ influence comes from everywhere. He likes to take a little of what he sees in as many people’s game as he can and incorporate in to how he fights.

“I look at everybody. Same thing I did with wrestling, I try to take a little bit from everybody and put it into my own game and try to make it work for me.”

Williams wrestled at 149 in college. He doesn’t think he will cut as much weight in the amateur ranks. He likes fighting at lightweight for now but is open to a change in the future.

“I’m going to go 55 first for amateur. I don’t want to cut too much weight. Then I’ll go down if I need to.”

As for his debut, it will he soon. “It’s definately going to be before the year ends. We’re still wrapping things up with training. I’m thinking that I might fight out of Milwaukee. We’re still putting a few things together. But the main thing is that I’m getting all the training I’m needing to get while this virus is calming down.”

As for his time as an amateur, it won’t be long. “We’re probably going to be in there between three and seven fights.” This coincides with his career goal.

“The goal is definately to get into the UFC as soon as possible. As soon as possible. With my wrestling ability and the style I have, I can use my hands pretty well. I’m definately trying to get there as soon as I can. That’s the goal.”

Having watched Curtis Blaydes, who is a notorious wrestler at heavyweight, Williams could do nothing but admire the clinic Blaydes put on in UFC Vegas 3.

“[Curtis Blaydes] is a monster. It was good, but he was just so explosive and he’s long. He knows how to use his length. It was crazy watching that.”

Other fighters liked by Tyshawn Williams are some of the best wrestlers you can possibly think of today.

“Khabib is definately a person I watch. I see how he manipulates his wrestling into the cage. I like Jon Jones a lot. He’s a good fighter. He’s one of the guys I like. Wrestling-wise, my man, Mike Grundy out of England, he’s on the come up.”

Be sure to follow Tyshawn Williams on Instagram to follow his journey from amateur debutant to the UFC. Thanks for reading!

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