The final two episodes of Spike TV’s breakthrough reality show “The Ultimate Fighter” aired Wednesday night revealing the four finalists, who, in the December 13 finale will battle to determine who will be left standing in the pursuit of a coveted six-figure contract with the UFC. More importantly, the finals will determine who will garner the recognition previous winners like Forrest Griffin, Michael Bisping, and Rashad Evans currently enjoy since being crowned winners during their respective seasons.
Season eight resident prankster and Team Mir first pick, Krzysztof Soszynski, was 100% positive he would be the one left holding the trophy above his head when it was all over and once the coaches had picked their teams, the seasons consensus favorite wasn’t the only one who believed he’d be competing in the finals.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com asked this season’s most experienced and most intimidating contestant to discuss the experiences he’ll be taking away from living in the TUF house, his future with the UFC, and just what exactly happened that resulted in his disappointing loss to former Team Quest training partner and now TUF finalist, Vinny Magalhaes.
Gary Ibarra: Your game plan coming into your fight with Vinny was pretty obvious, keep the fight standing up and don’t go to the ground with him, it looked to be really effective until he managed to pull guard on you and take you down. Can you take us through what happened?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Well I thought I was controlling the fight pretty well, he knows that my strength is in my striking so I could see his game plan was to stay out of my range, that’s why you saw so many leg kicks, it was because I couldn’t reach him. I was trying to soften him up with the kicks and slow him down so I could get him into the range of my punches but I was completely surprised when he rushed in and pulled guard on me. I’ve trained with Vinny for a long time, both before and during the show and not once had he ever pulled guard on me, not once. I was shocked! But I guess that was why he did it, he knew I wasn’t expecting it since I hadn’t seen it from him in all the time we’d spent training together.
Gary Ibarra: You and Ryan Bader were the first picks for your teams and were the consensus favorites this season before the prelims had even begun, do you think that maybe caused you to look past Vinny a little?
Krzysztof Soszynski: A little bit, I never had any doubt that I could fight any of the guys in the house and win. I wouldn’t say I was looking past anyone, but I definitely had the confidence in my own ability. You cant argue with the outcome though, Vinny beat me straight up and I have to give him the respect for being able to do that and I’ll be pulling for him in the finals.
Gary Ibarra: One of the reasons experts had designated you the favorite was because of your extensive experience before the show, 24 professional fights, but your experience extends much further than that, is that fair to say?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Absolutely, I was a bodybuilder, I had tried to get into professional wrestling for a while before I became a member of the L.A. Anacondas in the IFL, my wife and I even owned and operated our own fight promotion in Canada for a while before moving to California.
Gary Ibarra: During the show, your friend and training partner at Team Quest, Dan Henderson, was on hand to help out with the training, how does having a guy like Dan to train with and to be in your corner help you as a fighter?
Krzysztof Soszynski: It definitely gave me a confidence boost, having a familiar face like Dan around during the training; it really made me more comfortable. I had only been training with Dan for less than a year at the time but we have become pretty good friends. I’ve helped corner him in his recent fights and I’ve really tried to take the things he teaches me and input them to better my wrestling. He had come to the training facility for Vinny’s fight and he ended up staying and training with us until I fought, which was great. He’s one of the best; it can’t hurt to have him in your corner.
Gary Ibarra: Your next bout is during the finale show and your slated to fight fellow cast member Shane Primm, you’ve seen him in action both in training and in his fight with Eliot Marshall. Some people say Primm is a different fighter when he trains then when he fights, is that something you noticed? And will that effect the way you approach the fight once you’re in the ring?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I think I’ve learned that you can’t really overlook anyone, whatever the issues a fighter has, he’s obviously fighting in the UFC for a reason, so no I won’t change the way I prepare for this fight. I will definitely try to raise my focus on my Jiu Jitsu training since that’s Shane’s background, but that’s what I do in all the time in every aspect of my game, I continually try and get better. The level of talent we have at Team Quest really helps elevate my game.
Gary Ibarra: The show is known for playing up rivalries between fighters and the antics of some of the more interesting characters in the house mostly for ratings, but you managed to become a popular personality in the house with your pranks and not by displaying any dysfunction, how did that happen?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I have a great life, a great wife, and a great son, everyone has issues in their life, but my family has kept me on an even keel so I don’t really have that many and especially not the kind that would make me act like a nut on TV. My whole idea was to come into the house and just be myself and what you saw on the show, that’s me. I like to joke around; I think the pranks are still hilarious even now when I see them replayed, but you get some guys who need to be the center of attention and don’t care how they do it or how it makes them look. I can say that from this experience I see that it’s mostly just an act.
Gary Ibarra: So you spent six weeks in a house with no TV, no radio, no magazines, no books, no phone, they wouldn’t even let you have writing pen’s or markers to draw with! Why do you think the UFC and Spike keep you guys cut off from the world so much?
Krzysztof Soszynski: That’s easy, the ratings. If this show was just about the training and the fights, the only people who’d watch it would be your hardcore fans. You put 16 guys in a house, guys whose normal outlet is training to fight and tell them they can only train for 2 hours a day and the rest of the time they have to interact with each other in a house full of alcohol? There you go; you’ve got your ratings.
Gary Ibarra: What do you think about the finals, any predictions?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I like Phillipe, he’s a freak, and he’s one of the only people I’ve ever met that are genuinely nice except for when you get them in the cage. He must have a mental switch that he flips because he almost becomes a completely different person before he steps in the ring, it’s weird. That’s not to say Efrain isn’t a good competitor or a great fighter, I just think Phillipe is going to be too much for him.
Gary Ibarra: And the fight between Vinny and Bader?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Vinny is the best Jiu Jitsu guy I’ve ever seen, I am definitely going to be pulling for him in the finals because contrary to what people have heard, we are not at odd’s. Bader though, is a great wrestler, I mean the guy was a two-time All American. As much faith as I have in Vinny’s Jiu Jitsu I still have to give Bader the edge. I can say that if Vinny has done his part to better the aspects of his game that needed work, like his wrestling and his stand up, I would give him a better chance but I think Bader is going to come out on top.
Gary Ibarra: Are there any pranks that you’ll remember that maybe didn’t make it into the final cut of the show?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Oh yeah, a few. The Polakowski prank, the one where Dave Kaplan was taking the marsh mellows out of his Lucky Charms, what they didn’t show was that he had been taking them out for weeks. Kaplan had done it a few times before Polakowski finally got pissed. But my favorite will always be the night Bader and I after a few drinks tried to climb up this wall in the house to get to this ledge that was up the stair case, it wasn’t a place that was accessible from the floor and it barely had room for one person to sit in. While Bader was trying to climb up the wall to get to it he accidentally kicked a huge hole in the drywall! He got a piece of paper and taped it to the wall next to the hole and wrote “Please UFC don’t kick me off the show, it was an accident, I’ll pay for the damages just please don’t kick me off the show” It was funnier at the time, not just because what had happened, but because watching him try to write that letter while he was drunk made it even funnier.
Gary Ibarra: People just assumed you’d be fighting Bader in the finals, is that something you’d like to still see happen in the near future?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I’d love to fight Bader; I would love to fight anyone the UFC gives me the opportunity to fight. I just want the chance to prove myself to the fans and the UFC management. I like to fight, it’s what I do. I’ve come a long way from never even being punched in the face a few years ago to having an opportunity to fight for the premier fighting promotion in the world. This experience has opened a lot of doors for me and not just opportunities to fight, in January Sokoudjou and I are going to be in an episode of CSI, it’s crazy.
Gary Ibarra: You had a year long stretch where you lost three times in a row, had a draw, then were TKO’d by Ben Rothwell, a stretch like that would make most fighters question weather they were in the right field, what made you stick to it?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I wasn’t ready for those fights, some of them I took last minute, some I took to see where I was in my training, but regardless of the outcome, every one of those losses taught me something and have become more important to my career then the wins because they made me the fighter I am today, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.