Māori Jiu Jitsu and MMA fighter Hakaraia Wilson dreams of UFC

By D'Angelo Martin

Hakaraia Wilson is a Māori Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Māori fighter rapidly climbing the ladder in both sports. In the weekend he took out the Jiu-Jitsu Nationals and now he turns his focus to the 'Born to Fight 8' tournament this weekend.  

With a 5-1 record in amateur mixed martial arts,  Wilson continues to constantly work on his craft as he prepares for his next amateur MMA fight this weekend.

"My opponent for this weekend is Fergus Jenkins from Christchurch, and he makes me laugh. I've been seeing him highly active on Instagram calling me out and being a bit too cocky and arrogant. It doesn't bother me though, I just let my hands do the talking."

This Te Arawa and Tūhoe descendant was introduced to the art of fighting at a very young age. He is a versatile athlete, having a strong skillset in Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, karate, and kickboxing. "I started getting into fighting under the guidance of my dad. He was a fighter back in the day and, as I was growing up, I'd go to his training and watch him. From then I knew what I wanted to do and so, without my da,d I probably wouldn't have chosen to do this sport."

Hakaraia says that when it comes to this sport, fighters win some, lose some and that's the beauty of it.

Close to turning pro

"I lost my first MMA fight, I blame my own ego for that in thinking I had the ground stuff on lock but ended up losing that fight by submission. That's the beauty of the sport though, and there are heaps of lessons that I can take away from it. After that fight, I was back in the gym that following Monday tweaking my mistakes and learning from my errors."

He is on the verge of moving from the amateur level to go pro. Next year is the MMA amateur worlds competition, which will be held in Bahrain in the Middle East, it was originally scheduled to take place this month but, due to Covid-19, it was postponed until November next year. 

"If I do well at that comp, it'll be a matter of discussing with my coach Steve Oliver to see what options lie on the table. The ultimate goal is to get to Bellator and then eventually to the UFC. Scouts will attend the MMA amateur worlds next year, so that will be my window of opportunity to move myself from amateur to pro if I win."

However, he still hopes to be an inspiration for Māori youth "I want the Māori youth to know that this is one of many pathways to venture and to explore, Māori have so much talent. I just feel that the youth these days worry too much about parties and girlfriend,s which is fine, I guess, but in terms of a possible career for the future, this is it. You just have to put the mahi in and grind."

His fight this weekend will be for the Oceania title and, after that, he will turn his focus towards the amateur MMA worlds.