Josh Kwiatkowski looking to prove he’s learned from his past mistakes in the Rumble in the Cage 63 main event

Josh Kwiatkowski
Josh Kwiatkowski in the cage at BTC 10. (Photo by Joel Griffith/MMA Empire)

Aldergrove, B.C.’s Josh Kwiatkowski (5-6) will challenge Rumble in the Cage featherweight champion Tim Tamaki for the title this Saturday night in Lethbridge, Alta. in the Rumble in the Cage 63 main event.

Facing Tamaki, a fifty-plus fight veteran, Kwiatkowski said he knows he’s up against exactly the kind of fighter he himself embodies.

“When I seen that it was his name I got offered, you wake up differently, you train differently,” said Kwiatkowski in an interview with MMA Empire.

“I’m giving Tim all the respect in the world in how I’ve prepared for this. You don’t get to fifty f**king fights named ‘The Chin’ without being durable and his experience speaks for itself. He’s beat really good guys, and he’s lost to guys maybe he shouldn’t have, but he’s the type of guy, like myself, who will go into fights when he shouldn’t. If he signs that dotted line, he will fight you. Maybe that isn’t the best for our records, but he’s a banger and so am I, and I feel like it’s a passing of the torch.”

After being sidelined during 2020 Kwiatkowski returned to action with a win over Blake Sigvaldason at Rise FC 6, but would drop his next four, two by finish and two by decision.

Regarding the latter, Kwiatkowski said he makes no excuses for losses as a rule, but feels those scorecards do not paint an accurate picture of the fights.

“I don’t believe in ring rust. As Dominick Cruz said, I feel like that’s just a built-in excuse. When you’re in a live situation you have to react to what’s in front of you,” Kwiatkowski said.

“At the same time, I’ve watched the Lucas Neufeld fight like fifteen times, with multiple coaches, and I still don’t even know how I lost that. After the fight, the kid was on the stretcher and when I talked to the commission he still got a longer medical suspension than me. And then in the Ryan Rohovich fight, I whooped his ass for fourteen minutes and thirty seconds, but I simply got complacent, which I’ve since learned not to do. I came out without a bruise or black eye, but I learned that a man is not dead until he’s dead. The fight is not over until the final bell rings, and I learned that lesson in a very hard way.”

Regarding his recent string of losses, Kwiatkowski said while he can argue against the two via decision, he ultimately views the sport through a Diaz-like lens wherein performances matter more than results and losses only truly count when the fight, rather than timer, stops.

“I have multiple spirit animals,” he said.

“People who are real fighters, you know? When you watch them fight, you don’t care if they get hit, they fight through adversity. Most of my favourite fighters don’t have a perfect record; they take risks, they take fights that they probably shouldn’t take, people who most people don’t think they can beat, and I’ve always wanted to have a career like that. Despite my record, everyone knows that I’m there to fight, and I entertain the crowds every single time I’m in there. Haven’t been in a boring fight and don’t plan on it.”

Kwiatkowski said he has loved fighting for longer than he’s even known it was a sport. Whether in the streets, or in every other sport he’s ever tried, fighting has always simply been a part of his competitive makeup.

When he did start to catch onto the existence of MMA and the UFC in the mid 2000s, it was someone a lot like himself, just with firetruck-red hair, that allowed him to see himself taking the path of an MMA fighter.

“Chris Leben—The Crippler. He was always my favourite. And I remember, he was about to fight Kalib Starnes, and I just remember watching that fight and thinking, ‘wow, my favourite fighter’s about to fight a guy from Surrey. Like, I’m from Surrey. Well there’s no way a guy from Surrey is going to beat my favourite fighter’. And then he did, and right then and there I was like well, if a guy from Surrey can beat one of the better fighters in the UFC at the time, what says I can’t do it?”

“I was about fifteen or sixteen at the time, and I joined my first gym, one called Badboy Outreach. I walked in there on the first day and I just absolutely adored it. A few months later, I had my first fight, and the rest is history. I’ve been training six, seven days a week for over ten years now.”

When the moment of Kwiatkowski’s debut finally arrived at the Frasierview Hall in Vancouver, B.C., in front of an audience which included many of his loved ones, he said the adrenaline rush was even greater than he anticipated.

To complicate his nerves further, Kwiatkowski was also still relatively underdeveloped in the jiu-jitsu side of his arsenal, and still self-identified as a street fighter.

“It was just a rush,” he said.

“And of all the ways to win I won by submission, an ugly RNC (rear-naked choke). I picked him up and slammed him on the ground, and I was in top position. It was a funny moment because I could see some blood on him and I was thinking, ‘nice, I cut him!’, but then I had the realization that it was actually my blood.”

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