Michal Pasternak would have been well within his rights to quit in his most recent bout. He suffered serious knee damage at the start of the third round, but despite being denied the use of his left leg, he somehow found a way to finish the fight.
Had he decided to quit, no-one would have held it against him. Pasternak would probably have been given a second chance by ONE Championship, but the 32-year-old definitely wouldn’t have found himself fighting for the inaugural light heavyweight title in his very next contest.
Through sheer guts and determination has earned a ONE Championship title shot. His reward for the win over Rafael Silva on his promotional debut is a title tilt against Roger Gracie. Pasternak outlined exactly what he had to do to earn it.
“I thought that I damaged my leg very badly but I only had torn ligaments and damaged meniscus. When I got injured the first (thought) was anger because something went wrong in such an important fight, but then when I got a few punches and I just knew I needed to fight till the end and win it.”
The injury occurred in December of 2014, and Pasternak is quick to assure fans that he is fully rehabilitated and ready to perform to his full potential at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday night.
“I don’t have any problems with my knee now. If I did I wouldn’t fight for a belt.”
Pasternak’s ONE: Ascent to Power match-up with Gracie was initially set to be a non-title affair, but a reshuffle to the card saw the organization’s inaugural light heavyweight belt put on the line. The Polish fighter knows he has an opportunity to write his name into the record books.
“I’m not only determined to win the belt, but also want to be the first who won it. I’m feeling great about this fight, I feel honored that ONE FC gave me that opportunity.”
His opponent has fought for both UFC and Strikeforce and taken on some of the biggest names in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. Gracie’s BJJ accomplishments are well known, but Pasternak is confident about the prospect of facing him inside the cage.
Pasternak has a perfect professional record with 11 wins to his name. He’s submitted opponents and stopped them with strikes and thinks he is more well rounded than his upcoming opponent.
“MMA is on such a high level now that you can’t train BJJ only, but a bit of everything. It’s not like years ago when people used to train only one martial art.”
However, Gracie did finish a seasoned kickboxer with strikes in his last fight and the Brazilian has been outspoken about how confident he is in his stand-up. Pasternak is hoping that his opponent will put his money where his mouth is on Friday and engage in a stand-up war.
“If he says he is better striker then me, I hope he will prove that.”
Pasternak has been competing in professional MMA for four years and has also placed on the podium at several grappling tournaments. He brings plenty of experience into this title match, but believes his greatest asset is his mental strength.
“I don’t think about failure. My biggest strength is my mindset, as I always focus on winning only.”
Having fought for almost an entire round with a potentially career threatening knee injury, Pasternak is entitled to talk about his mental strength. He is likely to be severely tested again in Singapore, but is confident he has the tools to overcome Gracie and become the inaugural ONE light heavyweight champion.
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