Damian Grabowski is making his promotional debut at KSW 49 with a huge opportunity ahead of him, but he refuses to look past opponent Karol Bedorf.
Former UFC heavyweight Damian Grabowski (21-5) returns to action at KSW 49 this Saturday. Coming off a win in his native Poland in October on the regional circuit, Grabowski is looking to build some momentum after going winless (0-3) during his tenure with the UFC.
It’s a big fight. Grabowski has been paired up with Karol Bedorf, a former KSW heavyweight champion fresh off a title challenge against Phil De Fries.
Cageside Press caught up with Damian Grabowski ahead of this weekend’s big show in Gdansk, Poland, and he was kind enough to answer some questions (via translator) about his KSW 49 fight, his plans for the future and more.
You fought just once a year the past two years – are you hoping to compete more frequently in 2019?
Grabowski: Of course that I want to fight more. I wasn’t fighting too much, because after my last Fight in the UFC my leg was injured. When the doctor told me that I can return to training 100%, negotiations started with some organizations. Finally I was fighting in Poland and that was absolutely amazing, to hear Polish fans! I want the same here in KSW, to give fans fights that they will remember for years.
Karol Bedorf is a former champion in KSW, what are your thoughts on the match-up?
Grabowski: Karol Bedorf is a really good fighter, he was a KSW champion for a long long time. As I said at our first meeting at KSW47, to be a King, you need to beat one. That’s my goal, that and chance to show everyone that old Pitbull is still a really dangerous fighter.
Do you feel a win over Bedorf might fast-track you to a fight for the title?
Grabowski: I’m not thinking about that, really. First I need to win that fight on Saturday, and what’s next? We will see. The KSW belt will be something amazing for my career, but now I’m thinking only about Karol.
Having fought for Bellator, M-1, and UFC, how has working with KSW been like in comparison?
I was fighting in the biggest organizations in the world, and [in comparison] I can’t say anything bad about KSW. Martin and Maciej have created the biggest organization in Europe in my country. They are doing great things for Polish MMA, and I’m really thankful for them. Can’t wait for my debut here.
Do you expect KSW to be a long-term home? How many fights are you currently signed for?
Grabowski: Of course! KSW respects me and I respect them. I signed a four fight deal and want to fight as much as I can. I’m 39 years old, but I’ve never had any surgery, I’m feeling well. On Saturday I’m fighting in Ergo Arena, one of the biggest arenas in Poland. What more do I need? Only wins! (Laugh)
When you see the rise of promotions like KSW, ONE Championship, etc., do you feel they pose a risk to the UFC’s dominance, at least in certain regions?
Grabowski: In my opinion UFC is on a really high level. Others organizations need to match the best and show some new ideas. Like KSW. Two years ago, KSW 39 was watched by 60,000 people on Stadion Narodowy. KSW in my opinion is the best organization in the world in putting on a show. About sporting level? Look at Jan Blachowicz who was a champion here in Poland, and where is he now in the UFC. That’s the answer.
This will be your second straight fight in Poland, after competing internationally for several years – do you prefer fighting at home?
Grabowski: Yeah, I love to hear people cheering for me. That’s a great feeling. I want to fight here in Poland, to show polish fans that Pitbull is back and is ready to fight. That’s my goal for the first fight. I really cant wait to hear Sabaton 40-1 before my Fight. That gives me a motivational kick.
Having been in the sport for over a decade, what is your goal at this point in your career?
Grabowski: To show polish fans that I was fighting around the world for my country for years. Now I want to show them my skills, the best of what I’ve got.
Do you have any prediction for your fight with Bedorf?
Grabowski: I don’t have any. Maybe I have, but I won’t tell you my game plan (laugh). Karol is a great fighter, but I need to show that I’m better. That’s all. I can’t wait to step back into the cage this Saturday. See you there!
KSW 49 takes place Saturday, May 18 live at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk/Sopot, Poland. The event can be ordered via KSW TV.