After suffering his first defeat since three consecutive wins upon his official arrival in the UFC, Krzysztof Soszynski has found himself turning to a somewhat unlikely resource to help sharpen his skills for the thirty-two year old light heavyweight’s upcoming UFC 110 showdown with Stephan Bonnar.
The saying goes: If you can’t beat them, join them; and Soszynski has taken exactly that approach as the Polish born fighter has recently aligned himself with the last man to hold a victory over him in the UFC, Brandon Vera.
Alongside Vera and others, “The Polish Experiment” has also had the opportunity to rain alongside UFC newcomer Phil Davis for this Saturday evening’s match-up with Bonnar, and FiveOuncesofPain.com recently had the opportunity to catch up with Krzysztof to find out exactly what the recent change of scenery has meant to the veteran of nearly thirty fights, along with much more.
FiveOuncesofPain.com: I heard that you first started on your path in MMA while training with a former WWE wrestler by the name of Bad News Brown; What can you tell me about that?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I was a professional wrestler from the age of about twenty-two until about twenty-five. I had a chance to go to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to train with with Bad News Brown. Basically what would happen is he would make his students roll in the beginning of the workouts I wasn’t really that familiar with it at the time. I had watched some of it on TV. I had watched the first couple of UFC’s, but I didn’t really know what it was about. I learned a few moves – the kimura, the arm bar – and I was hooked immediately. After I finished with professional wrestling I came back to Winnipeg and up with Joe Doerksen and everything just went from there.
FiveOuncesofPain: Were you and Bad News Brown fairly close during your wrestling days?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Because I was in Winnipeg and he was in Calgary, he did come down for a few shows. He came down to work on a couple of the shows that we were part of, and through that I got to know Bad News Brown. We were never really good friends or anything like that, but I respected him tremendously, and while we were in Calgary he kind of took me under his wing.
FiveOuncesofPain: I don’t think a lot of people realize that we are talking about a man that was in 1977 Olympic bronze medal winner in Judo at heavyweight. He was also a two-time gold medal winner in the Pan American Games in Judo, along with being one of the original men to train with the legendary Antonio Inoki in Japan back in the days…
Krzysztof Soszynski: That’s right, and the shoot-fighting in Japan as well. He was a bad ass. A real bad ass.
FiveOuncesofPain: I remember him because I was a big WWF fan back in the days, and I remember him coming out with the biker gloves, the Kimbo beard, and punching everyone in the face. How do you think he would have done in MMA if he would have been born, say, 30 years later?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I talked to him about that actually. When I spoke to him about that he said that if MMA was as around and as big as it is now, that would have been the sport he focused on. He loved it. He loved teaching the students, he loved training, and if MMA would have been around back then, he definitely would have focused on that and done really well.
FiveOuncesofPain: Have you traveled to train at all for this fight outside of your usual stomping grounds at Team Quest?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Actually most of the training I’ve done for this has been with Alliance. With Brandon Vera, Phil Davis, Lew Polley and Joey Beltran. We all got together and we’ve been training for the last 10 to 12 weeks together. We have two Division I wrestlers, and of course Brandon Vera with his striking and ground game. It has just been phenomenal. This camp been one of my best camps. I’m very happy with the way things are going. I had a full twelve week camp, not like my last fight it was a three or a five-week camp. I’m really excited about this fight.
FiveOuncesofPain: So you’re training with Brandon Vera… Did you guys just hook up after you guys fought, or how did that happen?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Actually I have fought a lot of guys that I’ve trained in the past with, and Brandon Vera was one of them. When I first came out to California I had the chance to train with Eddie Bravo at his camp, and Brandon Vera was there so I decided to train with him for a few days. We got along great. We became friends. Every time we would see each other we would hang out and stuff. He always invited me to his camps and I always invited him to my camps. Eventually we just sat down and talked and I asked him if I could come out and train with him for this fight, and he said come on down. It was amazing. Brandon is a very talented fighter and he will be on top of the world here very soon.
FiveOuncesofPain: Have you had the chance to chance to train with Phil Davis at all down there?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Absolutely, the man is a phenom. He’s still getting more comfortable with the striking, but his wrestling, takedowns, clinch, ground control and entire ground game is just phenomenal. Once he improves his hands a little bit and is more comfortable with them, you’re going to see the whole package with Phil Davis. He’s going to go very far in this sport.
FiveOuncesofPain: What are your general thoughts on Stephan Bonnar and what he’s going to bring to the table for this match up?
Krzysztof Soszynski: He is on a two fight losing streak so he’s going to have to come out banging and swinging, and doing whatever he has to do to win this fight. I know that he is going to be prepared – 100%. He’s very tough, very versatile, and a very durable fighter. He has ten fights in the UFC and he has five losses, but all of his losses were by decision. I know that he is going to be coming at me no matter where the fight ends up and I have to be ready for that.
FiveOuncesofPain: You both seem to be really well-rounded fighters. I don’t see any glaring weaknesses on either of your resumes. What do you see as some of your major advantages over Bonnar in this one?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I think I’m a little stronger than he is. I think I hit a little harder. I might not be as accurate, but I do think I hit a little harder. I feel like my wrestling will definitely be a strength in the bout for me. Over the last year and a half I have been training with Dan Henderson, Lew Polley – who was a Division I wrestler – , Heath Sims, and now Phil Davis, and my wrestling has really improved because of that. Just in the last couple months I’ve gotten so much better in the clinch and against the fence, and that’s where I think this fight is going to be won. If I get control of the clinch, I’m going to win this fight for sure.
FiveOuncesofPain: On the other side of that coin, what are some of the things you’re going to have to watch out for from Stephan?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Well, he’s really aggressive. I can’t just stand in front of him taking punches. I’m going to have to move a lot. I’m going to have to find my angles. I won’t be able to just sit there in front of him and take punches because he’s going to throw punches in bunches. He can be very awkward with his weird kicks, with some of the spinning stuff that he throws; so I’m going to have to be very careful. I’m going to have to stay light on my feet and not just standing in front of him and taking punches and kicks.
FiveOuncesofPain: Now you started out your career with the UFC with a couple of nice submission of the night bonuses – that had to feel good – are you hoping to get back on the money train in this fight with a submission, knockout, or fight of the night bonus in Australia?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Well, it’s always in the back of your mind. It would be really nice, but first and foremost you want to put on a good performance. I get a chance to fight someone that’s a very aggressive with a similar style to me. We are going to be in front of each other banging away. We’re not going to be running away from each other at all. We are going to be standing there going to toe to toe, and I think that alone is going to make for an exciting fight. I’m not going to focus on getting a bonus; I’m just going to go out there in front of the 23,000 fans that will be there and the millions at home, and focus on putting on a great show. Whatever happens, happens with the bonus.
FiveOuncesofPain: Yeah, it should be awesome man. It’s going to be a really packed house for that one.
Krzysztof Soszynski: I’m hoping it’s going to be like the Montreal experience. I thought there during UFC 97 against Brian Stann, and that was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I hear the Australian fans are you crazy, so if it’s anywhere near that, it’s going to be out of this world.
FiveOuncesofPain: I want to ask you about someone you’re extremely familiar with; If a fight between Dan Henderson and Jake Shields took place in a month or two, how does that bout go down?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Dan Henderson knocks out Jake Shields (laughs).
FiveOuncesofPain: Why does Dan Henderson knock out Jake Shields? Why can’t Jake Shields beat Dan Henderson, in your opinion?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Oh, I’m not saying that he can’t. It just depends on who executes their game plan correctly. We know that Dan Henderson is very aggressive, but I know that he’s going to be smart in this fight. He is not going to do what Mayhem Miller did, where he rushed Jake Shields all the time, attacking with punches in bunches. Jake Shields just got underneath him and kept taking him down over and over again. That’s not going to be Dan’s style. I think Dan’s going to be little more patient with his hands, pick his spots, and attack in the right way. If he does that, Dan’s going to destroy Jake Shields on the feet.
FiveOuncesofPain: I appreciate you taking the time with me Krzysztof. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Krzysztof Soszynski: The most important thing is to just thank my training partners, my coaches, and my teammates. I want to thank my main training partner, Lew Polley. All of the guys at Alliance; Brandon Vera, Phil Davis, Travis Brown, Joey Beltran. My main striking coach, Ed Buckley, and of course, Dan Henderson and everyone at Team Quest. Also, my wife and my son, and I can’t wait for the fight.