To call Krzysztof Soszynski a rising prospect would be a bit of a stretch. Having entered the game at the not-so-tender age of 25, Soszynski wasn't afforded a lot of time to grow and improve as a mixed martial artist in an effort make the most of his career.
Turns out he didn't need it.
The former International Fight League (IFL) and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) standout made the most of every opportunity he had to properly announce himself to the MMA world.
Just seven short years after his first professional fight, "The Polish Experiment" finds himself on the main card of one of the UFC's biggest events of 2010, fighting a familiar foe with the chance to take yet another step toward his ultimate goal of being the best.
In anticipation of his UFC 116 rematch with Stephan Bonnar on July 3, Krzysztof was kind enough to talk with MMAmania.com about his career to date, how he's approaching the rematch with Bonnar, Keith Jardine, his fight with Brandon Vera and more.
Check it out:
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Let me first get your take on the UFC's decision to cut Keith Jardine. I know you've said in the past that you're a fan of his and that you think there are a lot of similarities in both of your careers. Were you surprised they let him go?
Krzysztof Soszynski: A little bit. He did lose four fights in a row, so I do understand the move, but he fought so many top guys. He fought Wanderlei Silva, "Rampage" Jackson and Brandon Vera. He beat Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell too. He's such a tough competitor. And I do see a bit of myself in him and vice-versa in working our way up from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), not winning but coming close, and then having success in the UFC. I'm a big fan of his and am definitely sad to see him go.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): You mentioned Brandon Vera there for a second. Before that fight at UFC 102, you were on a pretty good roll. Do you at all regret your decision to take such a big fight on short notice?
Krzysztof Soszynski: You'll never hear any regrets from me. It was my decision. I could have taken another fight later on an under card, but the fight with Vera was such a big opportunity so I couldn't pass it up. Not having a lot of time to prepare definitely played a role in the outcome. I didn't have enough gas towards the end of the fight to keep up with him. What happened was right before that fight I fought back to back at UFC 97 and UFC 98, so I thought I was going to get a nice long layoff and I started to eat a lot of bad food to just restore my body. I got a call in the middle of eating a large pizza from Pizza Hut offering me the fight in five weeks, and I took it right away. I just didn't have enough cardio to win that fight.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Let's move on to your first fight with Stephan. Talk about how you think the fight went. Did you think you were winning up until the fight was stopped due to Bonnar's cut?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I definitely thought I was winning the fight, my corner thought I was winning the fight. It was close; I'll give him that. It wasn't like I was dominating him. He was in the fight. He's in every fight really, but I did feel like I was ahead.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Was there any hesitation on your part to take the rematch considering how the first fight played out?
Krzysztof Soszynski: Not at all. I worked so hard for six years to get where I am today In the UFC and to be a good challenger and try to keep climbing the ranks. And this is the kind of stuff you have to do to keep growing. I've fought a lot of tough guys over my career and I'll always accept every challenge no matter what.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): How has your training changed from the last fight if at all?
Krzysztof Soszynski: To be honest with you this camp has been pretty different. It's more of a mental camp than physical. I had a great camp for our first fight and I know where I have to be in terms of shape and conditioning. I know what I have to do in the gym. Now it's more of a tactical and technical battle. You know, just playing out all scenarios of how the fight can go. Is he gonna try to exploit some of my weaknesses or is this fight just gonna be a stand up battle like the first fight? It's really just about mental preparation. I've started training more with Mark Munoz at his Reign Gym and less up at Team Quest just to train with a lot of good guys who are more my size and better strikers than I've worked with in the past.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Will you have a different strategy coming into the rematch?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I have a feeling its gonna be the same type of fight, but if he wants to mix things up, I'll be ready. We worked on a lot of different things for this second fight. I actually thought he would try to take me down more in the first fight and I think he was really surprised with my striking and it caught him off guard. I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to take me down and exploit my jiu-jitsu game, which is probably my weakest skill. We've worked really hard on takedown defense and just the overall wrestling part of the game. And of course, I've just continued to improve my striking as well.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Going off of how your think the rematch will play out, is there any way this fight isn't another stand-up war?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I hope it is another war. That's what I want. It was a lot of fun the first time. I've fought in over 30 professional fights in my career and I've never been in an all-out war like that. That was so much fun. And Stephan is the perfect opponent for that. I know he's willing to stand and bang with me. It was a great fight; the Australian crowd was really into it. The UFC loved it too. And because of that fight, we get the chance to fight on the main card of a huge event so I think we'll be even more geared up to let it all loose on July 3.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): I know you don't want to look past Bonnar, but where do you think a win puts you in the UFC's stacked light heavyweight division?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I don't think I'm ready for the top 10 yet, but I'm definitely climbing the ladder. There are a lot of tough guys out there. I never look past an opponent and I'm not gonna start now. I just like to take it one fight at a time, but like everyone else, I'm in it to eventually get a title shot. I know my time will come sooner or later. So I'm just trying to improve myself day-by-day, fight-by-fight. Regardless of whether I win or lose this fight, I'll take my next fight and approach it with all I have.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Before I let you go, I have to get your prediction on the Lesnar vs. Carwin fight. How do you see it playing out?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I've been a huge Brock Lesnar fan for years. I come from a wrestling background as well and I've followed his career from all the way back in the WWE days to now and his MMA career. I'm a huge fan of his regardless of what he says inside and outside of the cage. All the showboating and antics, that's just his style that he brought over from his WWE days. I love the way he fights, he's so aggressive. I think if he takes Shane down to the ground and stays on top, he'll dominate the fight. Shane is very strong and powerful, and is a good wrestler in his own right. He has so much power in his hands too. I think if Brock stays away from Shane's power and eliminates the striking aspect of the fight, it will be a long night for Carwin. But I could also see it going the other way where Shane lands that one big shot and gets to Brock. It could definitely go either way. It all depends on who lands that big shot first.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Alright, do you have any friendly predictions for your fight with Stephan?
Krzysztof Soszynski: I'm just hoping for another great fight where the fans will be talking about it that night and the next day, and the UFC will be showing it over and over again. I leave everything I have in the cage every time I step in there, and that's what I'm planning on doing at UFC 116. I know Stephan is as well. We actually talked for a bit at UFC 114 when we saw each other about going out there and putting on a great show for the fans and the UFC. He was all for just going out there and letting whatever happens happen. We're goon have a blast in there.
James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Thanks so much for your time. I want to let you go ahead and thank any sponsors you have and mention anything else you'd like to plug. Good luck on July 3.
Krzysztof Soszynski: Thank you so much for the interview. I first want thank all my training partners and coaches at Team Quest, Alliance, and Reign Training Center. My sponsor Skin, I love you guys. Jaco, Hayabusa, The Gun Store, and MusclePharm. And of curse, all the fans. Get ready for another exciting match between Stephan and me on July 3, it's gonna be great.