by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
Semi-finalist on the eighth season of the Ultimate Fighter, Frank Mir’s number one pick Krzysztof Soszynski is coming into his own.
The Winnipeg native has now rattled off two impressive wins inside the Octagon, his last being a first round submission victory over former WEC light heavyweight champion Brian Stann, a former teammate and friend, on his home turf at UFC 97 in Montreal, Canada.
Stepping up on short notice, a little over a month out from his last appearance, Soszynksi will meet fellow IFL veteran Andre Gusmao at UFC 98 in Las Vegas, this Saturday on the preliminary portion of the card.
“The Polish Experiment” has garnered two-straight submission victories by way of Kimura since entering the UFC this past December and will bring a wealth of experience, with nearly 30 fights to his credit against Andre’s six.
Still riding the “high” from his last victory in April, Soszynski’s experience of fighting in front of his fellow Canadians is one that he will carry with him forever and a first round victory on the televised portion of the card doesn’t hurt either. He displayed his ground prowess, which can be accredited to his friends and teammates over at Team Quest. Though most fighters are critical of performances, win or lose, the married father of one couldn’t have been happier.
“That was–I guess you can say the perfect fight for me. It was a fantastic fight, a perfect weekend and yeah, everything worked out perfectly,” commented Soszynski while a guest on the MMAWeekly Radio show.
The ‘perfect fight’ was complemented with the ‘perfect surroundings,’ as it was Soszynski’s first time back fighting on Canadian soil in a little over a year. Like any hometown fighter, he felt compelled to deliver in front of the sold-out crowd at the Bell Centre arena and with that carried a sense of honor and pride that is insurmountable in light of the fact that it was for the biggest promotion of them all.
“I was extremely proud and honored to be on the card. Nerves to be honest, yeah a bit of nerves, everybody gets nervous before a fight, but for me this was six years of hard work put into this one little moment – one big moment and it was just an amazing experience. I can see me walking out with a big huge smile on my face. I wanted to show everybody ‘hey, I’m here and this is an unbelievable experience.’”
Though the win was something Soszynski wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, it came at a price in the form of the aforementioned friend and teammate Brian Stann, a decorated marine who has served the United States proudly was a former WEC Champion and one of few whom were transitioned into the UFC after the dissolution of the heavier weight classes. Having trained together at Team Quest in preparation for several of Stann’s bouts within the WEC, Stann and Soszynski had built a relationship that culminated at UFC 97, where Stann found himself on the losing end.
“We talked after the fight, to make sure he was okay. We just talked a little bit about what he’s training now, what’s going on. We didn’t exchange too many words, but he was a training partner of mine for about six weeks a few years ago and it just happened that it worked out that I got the win.”
With his last two bouts ending by way of Kimura, is it safe to say that “The Polish Experiment” has a signature move?
“I think every fighter has they’re own thing, whether it’s a wrestler has his favorite takedown, whether a jiu-jitsu guy has his favorite submission, or a standup striker has his favorite combination – it’s just a submission that works really well for me and for my body. I feel that if I get in a position where I can grab onto the arm, nobody can take that away from me and nobody can stop it, so it’s just working for me right now.”
With just three weeks notice, one would think a fighter with that amount of time would harbor some second thoughts on entering any fight, regardless of opponent. However, with the level of athlete being spawned everyday, true professionals remaining training year-round, ready to be on call for any opportunity that may present itself; a professional like Soszynski who is out to prove all the naysayers wrong, once again.
“I got a call about two weeks ago, on Saturday from Dan Henderson and he tells me that there’s an opportunity for me to fight and I immediately said yes. I did take two weeks off after the Brian Stann fight. I relaxed, had a lot of pizza and a lot of ice cream and just enjoyed life with the family but as soon as he called me I was game. There’s so many people in my life that’s told me this couldn’t be done, it’s not possible, ‘you’ll never make it’ or ‘you’ll never make it to the UFC,’ this tells me that I belong. I wanna be there and this is just my way of showing them.”
With motivation now in every fight to prove he belongs, Soszynski will look to go 3-0 inside the UFC and place himself a step closer to contender status when he faces Renzo Gracie trained Andre Gusmao, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who will be looking for his first win inside the Octagon after dropping a unanimous decision to light heavyweight prospect Jon Jones. A fight that could have happened in the days of the now defunct IFL, Soszynski looks forward to the challenge ahead and another UFC bonus wouldn’t hurt either. He has gone three-for-three in his three UFC appearances.
Though winning is his main objective, Soszynski would be pleased if he just puts on a good performance in front of the UFC brass and make an exciting fight; a crowd pleaser for the fans which he hopes will cement his status and longevity in the UFC.
“To be honest with you, I don’t really think about what he has to do, I think about me and what I have to do. As long as I keep winning, as long as I keep putting on good performances I will be in the UFC for a long time to come and that’s been the game plan all along. I want to show the UFC that I’m not just a one or two-fight win guy, I wanna stay here. Keith Jardine – I kind of look up to Keith Jardine because we were in the same situation when we got off The Ultimate Fighter and now I’m following in his footsteps.”