UFC 120's James Wilks respects UFC's win-or-go-home policy
by Steven Marrocco on Oct 04, 2010 at 3:35 pm ET
Recent news of "The Ultimate Fighter 8" winner Efrain Escudero's UFC pink slip came as a surprise to many fans who felt the 24-year-old fighter had room to grow with the promotion.
But "The Ultimate Fighter 9" winner James Wilks said winning the reality show doesn't guarantee job security, and he supports the promotion's decision to ax fighters who under-perform.
"I don't think just because you won 'The Ultimate Fighter' you deserve any breaks," Wilks told MMAjunkie.com Radio (MMAjunkie.com Radio | MMAjunkie.com
). "I think you should still perform just like anyone else has got to."
Wilks (7-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC), a native of Leicestershire, England, makes his fourth octagon appearance since "TUF" when he fights Claude Patrick (12-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) Oct. 16 at UFC 120 in London. It's the second time he's got home-turf advantage, though his first U.K. appearance ended in a loss when Matt Brown knocked him out at UFC 105 in Manchester, England.
The British welterweight's UFC record now stands at 2-1, a mark that puts him somewhere in the middle of a group of 170-pound fighters looking to break from the pack and make a mark on pay-per-view.
It's Wilks' first fight on the main card of a major UFC event, though UFC 120 is not a pay-per-view event and instead will be shown via delay on Spike TV.
Still, Wilks is aware of an ever-present pressure to perform, and he knows another setback could be devastating for his career.
Although he wasn't keen on details of Escudero's release, Wilks said it's a simple equation when it comes to job security in the octagon, and those who stray face a difficult road.
"If you're not winning your fights or the people don't want to watch you, then it's a business, and the UFC's got to make their decision," he said. "So I respect whatever decision they made."
In hopes he avoids a release of his own, Wilks said he's made several improvements in his game and can't wait to be done with training camp so he can fight Patrick.
"I've been really looking at my opponent's strengths, and working techniques against those," he said. "I'm watching all the footage (and) breaking it down in slow motion. Obviously, you don't get his whole arsenal of tools with his striking. You don't get to see everything he's got, but at least you get to see what he's done in past fights. We've been breaking it down, just working on those physical aspects and seeing what I need to do to counter those things."
Patrick made his UFC debut in June at UFC 115 with an impressive submission victory over Ricardo Funch. The IFL veteran has won his past 11 fights, including nine by submission.
Wilks, meanwhile, notched a decision victory over Peter Sobotta at UFC 115 to rebound from the loss to Brown. He earned the "TUF" crown with wins over Che Mills, Frank Lester (twice) and DaMarques Johnson.
When it comes to keeping his contract, though, Wilks has a clear mission.
"I've just got to keep a winning record so hopefully I can stay on board with them," he said