With a chance to fight in his hometown and in the main event, former Minnesota Gophers wrestler Joel Bauman is right where he wants to be.
The Jackson Wink product Bauman (4-1) is coming off a dominant win at Gamebred FC’s inaugural event (Jorge Masvidal’s bare knuckle MMA promotion) and he’ll be looking to make a statement when he takes on Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz (8-1) in middleweight action at CFX 49 in Willmar, Minn., a short two hour drive from his hometown of Saint Paul.
Bauman, 30, said the relentless pace he is able to set is usually what separates him from his opponent and he’s expecting that trend to continue on Saturday night.
“Especially once I started wrestling at the University of Minnesota, I realized the art of breaking,” Bauman said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“That was our goal and our mindset on that team, always push forward and when you go forward and fight hard you’re going to break them and the moment they let up is the moment you attack. It’s the same mentality when I fight; I know if I push the pace nobody is going to be able to keep up. It comes down to who wants it more. It’s not fun to get broken, but it sure is fun to break and I want to have some fun.”
Bauman is aware of the top pressure and grappling acumen the Ksiazkiewicz brings to the table. However, Bauman doesn’t feel Ksiazkiewicz can match him in the wrestling department.
He’s seen what the Canadian has done to his past opponents on the mat and doesn’t plan on being easy prey.
“He likes to be on the ground, he likes to get on top of people and bully them and what not,” Bauman said.
“I am completely confident everywhere. I respect his ground game, however, I don’t know if it’s going to get there. I don’t think he can take me down, I’ve seen his wrestling. Canada doesn’t have wrestling like this, I’m a world class wrestler. He is respectable everywhere and he hits hard. I just know what I am and I’m not going to disrespect him by saying anything else. I just know what I’m capable of and I’m very confident. I respect him, but I have no worries for this upcoming fight.”
After a slow 2020, Bauman returned to the cage back in April with a unanimous decision win at LFA 104 over Canadian prospect Julian Leblanc.
Bauman said he was satisfied with his performance, but is still looking to build heading into this next matchup.
“I wanted to fight all last year, but the pandemic stopped me,” Bauman said.
“I wanted to be active, but I couldn’t be, so when I finally got the opportunity with LFA I had to make it happen. And in that fight my goal was to just be a mixed martial artist, I wanted to do everything. There were a lot of things we were working on at Jackson Wink in terms of game plans and I just wanted to win every position and I feel like that’s what I did. I’m not done though, I’m getting better everyday.”
The move across the country to Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M. has been a challenging one, but it’s made all the difference so far for Bauman.
Not only is Bauman adding the skills needed to dominate in the cage, but he’s also gaining confidence that comes with training at such a high level.
“Before I was always questioning if I was as good as I was; am I really the future like I believe I am?” Bauman said.
“Now I’m really living it. Training here at Jackson Wink around all the killers that I am and having all the coaches constantly reassuring me and believing in me, I can’t deny myself. I moved away from everything to come here and accomplish destiny and further the regime, so that’s what will be done.”
This camp has been a nice change of pace for Bauman who, throughout his career, has had a lot of short notice fights.
With the right amount of time to prepare and a high-level opponent standing across the cage from him, Bauman believes everything is lining up to springboard him to the next level.
“It’s cool because I got a month and a half to prepare this time. Usually it’s a lot more short notice,” Bauman said.
“It feels good and I’m actually motivated for this one. I’m excited about the opponent I have. He has a good record and he has some eyes on him from his last fight on the Contender Series. It’s all a good storm to propel me forward.”
“Coach Wink, Coach Jackson, Joey Villasenor and all my training partners. My family and my children.”