This may very well be the best fight in Canada of 2021.
Winnipeg, Man.’s Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz (8-1) will look to win the first title of his professional career when he meets Graham Park (8-2) in the main event of Unified MMA 42 with the Unified MMA 195-pound title on the line in Edmonton, Alta on Friday night.
Ksiazkiewicz, 32, said he expects Park to be hunting for the finish early and often, with the first round being his most dangerous.
“Graham’s more of a physical fighter. He uses a lot of athleticism versus technique,” said Ksiazkiewicz in an interview with MMA Empire.
“On top of that, he’s very rushed. You can tell he doesn’t like fighting. You can tell he likes winning more than anything. He goes in there and tries to finish the fights as fast as possible. You can tell because every fight’s the same. He’s going to be in for a rude awakening when he finds out he can’t finish me in the first round.”
Although doing his best work on the mat so far in his career, Ksiazkiewicz has proven to be as well-rounded as they come. In addition to his skillset, he has also faced no shortage of tough competition in just nine professional fights.
Ksiazkiewicz said he believes he has Park covered in all facets of MMA and expects to show that on fight night.
“I know my wrestling’s better than his and I have the better experience. I’m not just fighting local guys on a regional show; his last opponent was 42 years old,” said Ksiazkiewicz.
“I feel I have an advantage everywhere, from experience to fighting in the later rounds and the higher skillset everywhere. I have that advantage. He’s the one taking a giant step up in competition.”
Ksiazkiewicz is coming off his first career loss, a unanimous decision to Mario Sousa on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020.
Although he suffered the defeat and failed to secure a UFC contract, Ksiazkiewicz said gaining the experience performing under that big of a spotlight will help him moving forward.
“I feel like after headlining Contender Series, which is essentially a UFC card, I’m not going to feel that kind of stress on a regional show anymore,” said Ksiazkiewicz.
“The pressure I had headlining that show is not going to compare to the pressure I have headlining Unified. It’s just two different levels there when it comes to preparing mentally. A lot of it is just maintaining that stress level, being more comfortable. I feel like after fighting on Contender Series I’m going to be a lot more comfortable fighting on these other shows before I get back in there.”
After a quiet 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MMA scene in Canada picked back up in 2021 with several promotions starting up again.
And while there’s been plenty of big, well-matched fights in 2021, Ksiazkiewicz said he believes this fight with Park is the biggest of the year.
“Graham’s a top dog at 205, that’s a fact. I’m a top dog at 185. We’re both in our prime; it’s not like one of us is old as f**k. We’re both ready to fight on the big show,” said Ksiazkiewicz.
“This is probably the biggest fight of the year, let’s be honest. It’s Christmas came early for the Unified fans who are going to be there in attendance.”
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