Mariusz Pudzianowski, the 32 year-old five-time World's Strongest Man winner from Poland, makes his MMA debut on Friday night at KSW 12 in Warsaw, Poland.
"Pudzian" will headline the fight card in a heavyweight bout against professional boxer, Marcin "El Testosteron" Najman.
While he has made his name in Strongman competitions, Pudzian is no novice to combat sports: He is a kyokushin karate practitioner who holds a fourth-kyu green belt in the discipline, and had trained in boxing for seven years before launching his Strongman career.
His opponent and fellow MMA newcomer, "El Testosteron" Najman, has compiled a 13-4 record in professional boxing.
Unfazed by Najman's fight game pedigree, Pudzian issued a foreboding warning to his opponent via Fight Magazine:
"If Najman wants to exchange punches with me I wish him luck. I won’t be as slow as an ox and I won’t let him beat me up. My mother didn’t raise me to be a bum. These hands can hurt; believe me."
Aside from the Strongman fame, Pudzian sings in his eponymous musical group, Pudzian Band, that formed in 2005 and toured for the first time in 2006. He also starred in the 2008 Polish version of "Dancing with the Stars" and finished in the second place overall.
With his celebrity status, Mariusz Pudzianowski has the potential to succeed the former Olympic judo gold medalist and PRIDE veteran, Pawel Nastula, as Poland's MMA star.
He, along with Mamed Khalidov, the KSW middleweight champion who recently earned a high-profile upset victory over Jorge Santiago in Sengoku, may become the catalyst for Poland's burgeoning MMA scene.
Elsewhere on the fight card, TUF veteran, Dean "The Renegade" Amasinger (5-1) will face Polish national karate team member, Maciej "Highlander" Gorski (7-3) and UFC veteran and former Cage Rage Light Heavyweight champion, James Zikic will meet Daniel "Kociao" Dowda (5-2) in a middleweight contest. The event will also feature an eight-man heavyweight tournament.
Founded in 2004, Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW) or "Martial Arts Confrontation" in English, is Poland’s leading MMA organization. Modeled after Pride, KSW stages one-night four and eight-man tournaments, and counts Jason Guida, Antonio Mendes, Peter Sobota, Jordan Radev, and Mamed Khalidov among its past and present stable of fighters.
For those who are curious, here are some more interesting facts and trivia about Pudzianowski:
- Besides Pudzian, his nicknames include Dominator, Super Mariusz (Super Mario), Pyton (Python), and Duży Pyton (Big Python).
- Pudzian Band recorded a song called Zdobyć świat ("To Conquer the World") in 2006. A clip of him and his brother (member of the band) singing
- Some photos of his appearance in the Polish version of "Dancing with the Stars"
- Apparently, he spent 19 months in jail after his heroic deed backfired and fell victim to a collusion by a notorious Mafia boss.
In an interview with TV magazine, "Fakt TV," he states:
"A local (mafia) boss got me into jail. He's very influential, and a very brutal person. It was because of this brutality. I couldn't just stand and watch as he physically abused an eighteen year old boy. He hit the boy until he fell down, and then he kicked him and put a shoe in/stood on his face. It was that scene with the shoe that made me angry/made me lose it"
Here he is at today's weigh ins (courtesy of sporty-walki.org):