Most MMA fighters like to take a few months off in between fights, but Krzysztof Soszynski is not like most MMA fighters.
Soszynski, who beat Brian Stann at UFC 97 on April 18, is getting ready to return to the Octagon to fight Andre Gusmao at UFC 98 on May 23. In an interview with FanHouse, Soszynski said he'll be ready to fight -- and that he's just happy to get to fight in the UFC. The full interview is below.
Michael David Smith: How much do you know about Andre Gusmao?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Andre and I both fought in the IFL, we were on the same card a couple times, so I've seen him fight in person. I think he's very well-rounded. He can use a lot of kicks effectively and he's a jiu jitsu black belt, so it's going to be tough for me. If the fight goes to the ground, I'll work my magic there, and if the fight's standing, I'll work my magic there.
Is five weeks off enough?
To be honest, I would love to have a few more weeks off between fights. I took two weeks off after my last fight with Brian Stann, and in those two weeks I did nothing but have fun, enjoy life, spend time with my family, and basically pig out and eat, so that gave me time to rest my mind and recuperate my body. I was in very good shape because I had a 15-week training camp going into the fight with Brian Stann, so two weeks off put me in a position where my head was really good, and now I feel fresh and ready to go again.
You mentioned pigging out. Will you have any trouble making the 205-pound weight limit?
No, not at all. I usually walk around at 245 pounds but I only got up to 233 during the two weeks off and now I'm already down to 222, so I only have about 15 pounds left.
If you walk around at 245, might we see you at heavyweight?
I fought at heavyweight for most of my career, 22 fights at heavyweight, but those guys are too big for me. I fought guys like Ben Rothwell, Mike Whitehead, Chris Tuchscherer, Dan "The Sandman" Christison -- I fought a lot of big guys and they were too big. They'd take me down, hold me on the ground and I couldn't get up. It was a good experience for me, but the best thing I did was work really hard to get down and fight at 205.
When Houston Alexander got hurt and had to pull out of UFC 98, how did the UFC approach you to ask you to take his place against Gusmao?
They called Dan Henderson, who is one of my coaches and training partners. He's got a great relationship with Joe Silva and everyone else at the UFC. I've heard that they tried to bring in a few other fighters first, but they couldn't take it because of injuries or other things. Eventually they called Dan Henderson, and he texted me and said, "There's an opportunity for you to fight in the next UFC, are you interested?" And without hesitation, I said, "Absolutely." Any opportunity for me to fight in the UFC I'm not going to turn down, because this has been a dream come true for me, fighting in the UFC for the last year. Now I'm looking forward to another opportunity.
You had quite a few MMA fights under your belt before you got your chance in the UFC with The Ultimate Fighter. What was being on that show like?
The experience was tough. Being in a house with 16 people, with nothing to do, gets really monotonous and really boring. But the goal of the whole show was to get into the UFC, and I achieved that goal. I'm very happy that I did it and I would definitely do it again.
I know that you used to be a professional wrestler, and I've read that it was the pro wrestler Bad News Brown (whose real name was Allen Coage and who was an Olympic gold medalist in judo) who made you decide to move away from wrestling entertainment and toward being a real fighter in Brazilian jiu jitsu and MMA. Is that true?
That's correct. I was a professional wrestler in Canada and I moved to Calgary to train with Bad News Brown, and before you could start training with him he made his students grapple with him. I didn't know what to do, I had no idea what it was -- I had barely even watched any mixed martial arts. He got me in an arm bar, a kimura and an americana and I was hooked immediately. I quit wrestling the very next day, took up jiu jitsu and everything from that is history.
What are your goals in MMA?
I think every fighter has two goals. The first is to fight for the best organization in the world, and I have accomplished that, so I'm very happy with that. And the other is to win a title, and that's something that I'm going to keep working hard toward.
Who do you think are the best fighters in the world right now?
I'd say Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva. Those guys are just phenomenal.
Who's the toughest opponent you've ever fought?
Probably Ben Rothwell. He's just a monster, big and strong. He's fought some of the best fighters in the world, and he's the person who knocked me out of the heavyweight division and down to 205 pounds, so I'd say he's the best I've fought.
He beat you twice?
Yeah, the first time he beat me it was by TKO with one second left in the first round, and the second time he hit me in just the right spot and dropped me right at the beginning of the first round. (Laughs) So I owe it all to him.
I often hear fighters say a loss can be good because it forces them to change. Was that the case with you in your losses to Rothwell?
Definitely. Absolutely. It would be great to be undefeated, but to be honest with you, the losses I've had were great learning experiences for me. I got into the sport when I was 25 years old, and I've only been doing it for six years, and the way for me to learn was through fighting. The way I learned was to book as many MMA matches as possible, and when I lost some of them, that was a great experience for me that I wouldn't take back.
Has a lot changed for you now that you've gone from fighting for smaller promotions to fighting in the UFC? Are you recognized more? Is the money better?
I'm a lot more recognized now. I'll be out with my wife at a restaurant and someone will come up and ask for a picture. The money's not the best because I'm low on the totem pole in the UFC still, but I'm climbing that ladder and at least I'm making a living. It's working out so far.
You've won the submission of the night bonus for both of your UFC fights. I assume that makes a difference.
Yes, that's good for the bank account, good for paying off bills and paying off credit cards that I've had from before. Some of the hard work that I've put into the sport is paying off now, for me and my wife and my son.
What do you think will be next for you after you fight Andre Gusmao at UFC 98?
Well, I want to focus on this fight first. I hope to get a little bit of a break after this fight, because I think I'll be physically and mentally tired from having fought twice in five weeks and having gone through 20 weeks of training. But whenever the UFC puts me back in there, I'll be there and I'll be glad to do it.