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James Wilson Is Ready For The Next Chapter

Former Stanford Wrestling Captain James Wilson Is Excited To Keep Adding To His Resume At LFA 124.

Shane Griffith gave the world possibly the most historic run in NCAA history when, in the face of the Stanford wrestling program being shut down, he climbed the rankings against all odds and brought home the National Championship to a school that didn’t want him.

In the 2016-2017 season, long before the 4-0 MMA record and the LFA lights, James Wilson was the captain of the Stanford Wrestling team, an organization that was still years away from a COVID-19 pandemic that would nearly shut the lights out on the whole program.



Wilson is one of the proudest Stanford graduates under the sun, so he appreciated the position the Stanford administrators faced, but the wrestler in him had him almost overpowered the voice telling him to cut off a finger to save the hand.

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“To preface, nobody saw COVID coming and it put tremendous strain on athletic programs, it put tremendous strain on institutions and at the time there was really no visibility for when wrestling was going to be able to come back,” Wilson explained. “Obviously I wasn’t working as an administrator, I don’t see the all the financials and all the details that they do, I know they’re under a tremendous amount of pressure and stress. I think what they underestimated was how much support there was from alumni for the wrestling program.”



Stanford wrestlers, Stanford graduates, wrestlers across the country and mixed martial artists all echoed the same message and “SAVE STANFORD WRESTLING” were the three most common words in the back half of the 2021 wrestling season.

Stanford wrestlers, Stanford graduates, wrestlers across the country and mixed martial artists all echoed the same message and “SAVE STANFORD WRESTLING” were the three most common words in the back half of the 2021 wrestling season.



Stanford University sent seven wrestlers to the NCAA Championship. Seven wrestlers set out to prove that one of the most prestigious schools in the country was making a huge, short-sighted mistake. The positive and negative of it all was that all eyes would be on those seven wrestlers.



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“I don’t think they fully realized the power of the community,” Wilson said.



One by one, the wrestlers were dropping. It was looking like in the face of all the money and awareness raised, Stanford Wrestling was simply going to dissolve.



With only one man left, the world watched Stanford’s highest seed, Shane Griffith, take the mat over and over with a preface of “this could be the last wrestling match in Stanford history.”



Unexpectedly, however, Griffith kept winning…and winning. Before you know it, the little engine that could was in the National title match with his Stanford Wrestling singlet flipped inside out. The school had no support beyond this match, so Griffith was wrestling for himself, alums like James Wilson and everybody else shouting the three most common words in the back half of the 2021 wrestling season.



“Watching him was giving me goosebumps the entire tournament,” Wilson recalled with a smile. “It was unbelievable and for him to do it rated eighth; it wasn’t like he came in as the favorite. It was unbelievable. Sensational.”



Three seed vs eight seed. Legacy of a program vs impending doom. Jake Wentzel vs Shane Griffith.



The match ended with a coach’s challenge that had the tearing up crowd booing the officials before Griffith’s hands were finally raised in victory. He might not have done backflips in celebration, but he accomplished the impossible and sent a bigger message than any of the tweets, signs and fundraisers ever could.

If you didn’t live the accomplishment it’ll be hard to replicate the experience of the run, but Wilson believes whole-heartedly that Tinseltown will, rightfully, give it a shot.



“Honestly, what Shane did is so good I wouldn’t be surprised if Hollywood made a movie out of it,” Wilson said. “It’s legendary. I think with the right soundtrack, the right context, the right actors, especially with everything going on with COVID and everything that Shane was shouldering, it’s definitely movie potential. Absolutely. I would say it’s right up there in the top three greatest moments in NCAA history.”



Catch the return of former Stanford wrestling captain James Wilson to LFA at LFA 124 LIVE Friday, February 11, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!