With a unique approach to creating story lines for every event and even individual fights, Norman Parke is enjoying not just being another number in Poland’s KSW.
The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes winner Norman Parke (26-6-1 (1NC)) returns to action this weekend at KSW 49. The 32-year old from Northern Ireland went 5-3-1 with the UFC from 2012 to 2016, but was released off a loss to Rustam Khabilob. Now, he’s on the best run since parting ways with Dana White’s promotion, and will look to make it 4-0 in Gdansk, Poland this weekend. There, he’s taking on Artur Sowiński (19-10).
Sowiński is a former featherweight champ in the promotion, and is the second ex-champ Parke has fought in the organization so far. The first was Borys Mańkowski, who Parke defeated last time out at KSW 47.
KSW has done a great job snapping up European talent, and Parke is another example of that, alongside names like Scott Askham and Phil de Fries, the promotion’s reigning heavyweight champion. We caught up with Parke ahead of KSW 49, about his recent success in the cage, his goals moving forward, and the UFC losing its grip outside North America.
1. You’re on your best streak since the UFC. What do you attribute the recent success to?
Parke: Yes, I’m on a three fight streak at the moment. I try not to think about it too much, things could be better but it’s working for me. I just live in the moment every day, I never think about tomorrow, just now so I guess you could say it’s about taking each fight as it comes.
2. This bout being at a catchweight, are you considering a permanent move up? Or will it depend on the opponent / situation?
Parke: In the KSW welterweight division there’s some big boys, very big. I would stay there if I knew I could never make lightweight, but I know with more work, with a proper nutritionist I can make lightweight healthy. It’s a lot of stress making weight now but KSW needs a new champion in this division, a foreign champion.
3. If you earn a win over another former champ in Sowinski (ex-featherweight champ), do you feel that makes a case for a title shot of your own down the line?
Parke: I believe now I could fight with Gamrot after a win against Sowinski. London has a show possibly at end of the year, I will look to fight on that after a good victory.
4. What are your thoughts on this match-up? What do you feel his strengths are?
Parke: A fight is a fight, every fighter has their strengths, totally different from the Boris fight, Sowinski is experienced and no walk over like people say. I take it serious when the bell goes, once I figure him out I have to dominate him every area. I’m the favorite but I don’t care about this.
5. Many see the UFC as the pinnacle of the sport but as promotions like ONE and KSW grow do you see that shifting?
Parke: UFC is the big name, the top 15 guys in each weight are the best fighters in the world, outside of UFC there is a lot of unrecognized talent, talent that could be top 10 in the world. UFC is a young fighter’s dream, it was mine to be there but now I have new aspirations and I’m happy with where I’m at. I want to be the champion and take on other champions from other promotions. You know like boxing 4-5 belts in each class, I like the way Bellator and Rizin are switching fighters to fight for their belts, I don’t believe the UFC would ever do this in case they lose credibility if their fighter loses.
6. Is the UFC already at risk of losing its dominance outside the US?
Parke: There is just more competition now from different promotions, KSW promote their shows probably the best, the way they coordinate their shows is something else, great production. Other promotions like Bellator who are in the European market and doing great things with a great UK TV deal, it’s great for home fighters to help get more sponsors and exposure. ONE FC are doing great things too in the Asian market but haven’t been to mainland Europe.
7. Short and long term, what are your goals moving forward?
Parke: As I said I don’t think too much about it but it would be to be the Lightweight Champion in KSW and challenge other champions from other promotions. Or a fight with Mamed Khalidov in a super fight at 82kgs.
8. One of KSW’s strong suits is the production, giving events the feel of a big show. Is that something you noticed in comparison to other organizations?
Parke: Yes without a doubt, I’m sure if you ask any of the other UK/Irish guys who have competed in KSW, [they] will say the production is out of this world. A lot of effort is done by Maciej, and other KSW owner who masterminds all this, and every show (PPV) has a theme or story line to each fight/show. I like this from the fighter perspective, the feeling of not being just a number.
9. There hasn’t been a season of TUF announced since 28. Has the show run its course in your opinion?
Parke: More than likely it has passed that stage now, the game is just advancing more, there is that Dana White’s Contenders Series, that seems to be the new trend.
10. Any prediction for your fight at KSW49?
Parke: I can’t predict anything as my last ten or so fights have been decisions, but if I was to pick anything it would be myself by unanimous decision.
KSW 49 takes place Saturday, May 18 live at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk/Sopot, Poland. The event can be ordered via KSW TV.