Before even beginning his MMA journey, Josh Kwiatkowski knew he was a fighter.
Growing up in Aldergrove, B.C., Kwiatkowski, 25, was heavily involved in rugby, football and lacrosse right up till his high school years. And while he possessed the skill and athleticism to compete in each of those sports at a high level, he said there was one common area in all three sports he excelled at most.
“The one constant in all those sports I was really good at was when I got in fights,” said Kwiatkowski.
“I always kind of shined there and enjoyed it the most.”
It was after one of those fights, at 16 years old, Kwiatkowski’s mother told him the fighting needed to stop or she wouldn’t be attending anymore of his games.
Shortly after that, Kwiatkowski made the the decision to start training MMA. And once that decision was made, he started training six days a week and hasn’t looked back.
And although his mother didn’t approve of him fighting in other sports, Kwiatkowski said she and the rest of his family have been incredibly supportive and motivating throughout his MMA journey.
“My family has always been such a big part of why I fight and I always want to make them proud. Fighting for my family and my own name is something very important and I take a lot of pride in it,” explained Kwiatkowski.
“I know this journey is a crazy one and people can say whatever they want about me, I don’t care, but what my family thinks of me, my character, and my fighting career is very important to me and I always listen to them when they have their opinions.”
Tough to Watch, Easy to Cheer
Kwiatkowski’s mother, Karen Weeks, has only missed one her son’s fights in his entire career, which was his professional debut in Brazil.
Weeks said although she will continue to attend her son’s fights and support him all the way, it doesn’t make it any easier to watch.
“I hate it; I absolutely hate it,” said Weeks.
“I watch most of his fights with my ears plugged and my eyes closed, but I 100 per cent support him.”
Once Kwiatkowski made the decision to start training MMA, he was locked in. There was no turning back. And Weeks said there was never a point where she tried to sway his decision.
She said the only thing she asked of her son once he began his MMA venture was to always remain respectful, win or lose.
“All I ever asked was he always remains a humble fighter. If he was ever going to be one of those disrespectful fighters, I would never come and see him, and to this day he has never disappointed me,” said Weeks.
“He’s always been humble and he’s always been a good sport. Nine times out of ten he’s having a drink with whoever he fights with. That’s the kind of fighter I wanted my son to be, and he’s never let me down.”
Training six days a week and possessing an endless amount of motivation, there’s no question Kwiatkowski is in this sport for more than just fun.
With his drive, determination and perseverance, Weeks believes the sky is the limit for her son in this sport.
“He’ll go all the way. I have no doubt in my mind he’ll go all the way,” said Weeks.
“He’ll go as far as he wants to go. You could give him a million bucks and he wouldn’t stop tomorrow.”
As is the case with most up-and-coming MMA fighters, the end-goal and the dream is to reach the UFC. And Kwiatkowski is no different.
And while the UFC is his long-term desire, Kwiatkowski, now residing in New Westminster, also has more short-term goals in mind to help pave the way to the end destination.
“I want to fight as much as humanly possible in these next few years. I just want to travel the world, fight as much as I can, and fight the best people I can,” explained Kwiatkowski.
“In two years, I would like to be in a major organization, with my preference being Bellator. I just want to work my way up until I’m so comfortable as a mixed martial artist that I know I can go into the UFC with a bang.”
But first, Kwiatkowski must finish writing the next chapter in his career, which takes place July 27 in Victoria, B.C. at Rise FC 4 where he will take on American Grant Gorsegner in a lightweight tilt.
Coming off back-to-back losses and a canceled bout at Modern FC 3 back in June, Kwiatkowski is hungrier than ever to step into the cage and continue his climb to the top.
“It’s a fresh me; when I’m fighting at 155 pounds, the weight cut is so much easier. That’s one thing I don’t even have to stress about.
“I see some holes in his game and I think I’m going to be able to exploit them. I’m excited and I think I’m going to put this guy out.”