After getting the short end of the stick from the judges against Mario Sousa on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) late last year, Winnipeg, Man.’s Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz (8-1) returns to the cage this weekend for a middleweight bout with Saint Paul, Minn.’s Joel Bauman (4-1) in enemy territory at CFX 49 in Willmar, Minnesota.
It was a high stakes fight for Ksiazkiewicz on DWCS and with it came a lot of pressure. Although Ksiazkiewicz feels he should have got the nod from the judges, he learned a lot from the experience at the UFC Apex and he’s looking to show it moving forward.
“The biggest thing that I took from that fight is that it’s a feeling I’ve never really felt before fighting on local shows,” Ksiazkiewicz said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“It was a big opportunity and a headlining fight, there was a lot of pressure and stress. After that experience, I know I’m not going to feel that same pressure anymore. I still feel I won, the judges gave it to him, and it is what it is, but I know I’m not going to experience that stress again after being able to headline what was essentially a UFC card.”
Ksiazkiewicz isn’t one to hang his head after a fight as the 31-year-old was right back to the grind after taking his first professional defeat.
A strong work ethic is something Ksiazkiewicz said he’s always been able to rely on and at this stage in his career it’s not just about training hard, but also training smart.
“I’m not one of those guys that like to take a break after a fight. Training is what I do because I love it so much and I love to compete,” Ksiazkiewicz said.
“The biggest thing that has changed for me is that I’m training smarter now. Back in the day we kind of trained like cavemen and now I’m doing a lot more drilling and a lot more safe training so I can prolong my career.”
The success Ksiazkiewicz has enjoyed throughout his career can be attributed to the coaching at the Winnipeg Academy of Martial Arts (WAMMA).
The homegrown athlete showed poise and constant improvement during the eight-fight win streak that led him to DWCS and he’s hoping Saturday night will be the start of another great run.
“Winnipeg is known for being a rough and tough city. Most of us like to fight,” Ksiazkiewicz said.
“I love representing my city and my club, WAMMA. We’re one of the only clubs to produce UFC fighters and elite level athletes. I’m a product of all my coaches and I’m very proud to represent them and my city at a high level.”
The ability to push the pace coupled with a strong grappling acumen is something Ksiazkiewicz takes a lot of pride in when he does battle.
The aggressive, in-your-face style he possesses has led to a stoppage in all but one of his seven professional wins so far.
“I just keep going forward. I work on my cardio a lot so that I can push the pace, and that’s just the type of fighter I am,” Ksiazkiewicz explained.
“I don’t want to go to a decision, I like exciting the fans. And I definitely feel that I have some of the best jiu-jitsu in my division, not just in Canada. I’ve travelled all over the world to train and my BJJ is top notch. It definitely sets me apart from all the 185ers.”
Ksiazkiewicz has a lot of respect for the hometown fighter Bauman heading into their matchup and he’s aware that opponents will be looking to make a name off of him after the exposure he got from the UFC.
Bauman is a two-time state champion and a former NCAA division one wrestler, but Ksiazkiewicz knows there’s a lot more to him than just that.
“He doesn’t shy away from a challenge. He’s not here to take the easy road and I respect that. He wants to fight the best and that’s what he does,” Ksiazkiewicz said.
“Pretty much all the fights he is taking springboard him a little bit higher. That’s what he’s looking for, and main events are always great for that, but for me it’s just another fight. As a fighter, he’s very athletic and well-rounded, definitely more of a wrestler, but he is well-rounded. I prepare for him like I’ve prepared for anyone else.”
Not only is this weekend an opportunity for Ksiazkiewicz to bounce back from his recent setback, but it’s also a chance to derail the hype train of a top local prospect.
Stylistically, it’s a great matchup of two different fighters and with the opposition game plan always evolving, Ksiazkiewicz only ever worries about what he can control heading into a fight.
“It’s hard to say, game plans change when you get hit really hard or surprised by something. They change all the time,” Ksiazkiewicz explained.
“I’m really not going to focus on what he might have planned. I know what I want to do; I’ve got plans A, B and C depending on what happens and I always focus on myself. Honestly, I barely even watch any footage on anybody. I just try to be the best possible fighter I can be on fight day.”
“All my coaches and training partners! All my sponsors.” Follow Ksiazkiewicz on social media: INSTAGRAM