British heavyweight Phil De Fries has steadily built up an eight-fight win streak that has positioned him as one of the best big men outside the confines of the UFC.
On Saturday at KSW 67, the Polish promotion’s heavyweight champ will be looking to make his sixth consecutive title defense. This time out, it’s UFC veteran Darko Stosic that De Fries (20-6, 1NC) has been positioned against.
“I think it’s a great match-up,” the KSW heavyweight champ told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. Stosic is on a good run, De Fries added, “but I think I think I’m going to be too fast, too big for him. He is good, he is dangerous. Kita was beating him for four minutes, slept on him a second and got caught. So you’ve always got to be careful.”
Should he be successful in Saturday’s venture, De Fries will be in the sort of territory that fighters like Israel Adesanya and Ryan Bader before him have found themselves in: looking for a different, loftier goal. Only as a heavyweight who comes in near the upper limit, he’s not about to drop down to challenge for a second belt at 205lbs.
That leaves the option of trying his hand in another promotion, but the British fighter is loyal to the company he calls home. “KSW is paying me well, they treat me well, so as long as that’s going on, I’m going to stay here. I don’t know where the next challenge is going to come front, but I’m happy where I’m at. Whoever they put in front of me, I’ll beat.”
De Fries also recently signed a new deal with KSW, one that ensures the promotion must offer him three fights per year. But at the end of the day, he does believe he could find success in the UFC.
“I honestly think I could be the UFC world champion. I’m doing great at the moment, I’m sparring with world-class people,” said De Fries. That includes current UFC heavyweight Tom Aspinall, who De Fries had high praise for. “But, I don’t know, we’ve got a family and stuff, do you want to roll the dice when you’ve got the kiddies? But I’m happy with KSW.”
Of course, the UFC is not the only game in town, and other promotions have been open to cross-promotion. Kyoji Horiguchi doubled up as champion in both Bellator and RIZIN, and that’s the sort of situation that could attract Phil De Fries — a shot at Bellator gold, or a chance to serve as Fedor Emelianenko’s final opponent.
“Oh yeah, that would be amazing, if they could make that happen, that would be wonderful,” De Fries told us. “But I’ll tell you what though, I adore Japan. I had two fights in Japan, I adore the place. So RIZIN would be even better for me. Love the culture, I love anime. It’s such an amazing place. Even the nature and stuff, I love all that sort of stuff, so I would love RIZIN. If it’s possible, let’s do it.”
He’d even be open to a grand prix. “I’ll do anything, I’m a prize fighter. You put the prize there, I’ll fight for it. I’ll be happy with anything. Multiple fights in one night might be nice. It might be horrible, I don’t know.”
Outside of fighting, De Fries has been keeping active on social media, staying up to date with happenings around the world even as he prepares to defend his KSW heavyweight title for a six consecutive time. One subject he’s weighed in on is the “trucker convoy” protests in Canada — and the government’s response, implementing the Emergencies Act, which has allowed them to freeze bank accounts of non-violent protesters to the tune of millions of dollars, without due process.
“It’s getting no attention by the news, it’s just on Twitter. No attention at all, it’s getting ignored. I think it’s because we’re strategic allies [the U.K. and Canada], we don’t kind of call each other names; people know about it, but just from Twitter, no formal news coverage by major stations,” De Fries said of how the situation is being seen in the U.K.
As for the response, “It’s a very slippery slope, that Emergencies Act. And they’re extending it. I think it’s dangerous, I think the world should be condemning it,” he added.
“They can’t just freeze people’s bank accounts for donating to a protest. It’s madness. I’m really worried about it.”
In contrast, De Fries’ native United Kingdom has opened up, with essentially all COVID-19 restrictions dropped. “I was never a fan of restrictions,” he admitted. “Protect the vulnerable, support people, if you want to isolate you can— obviously if you get COVID, you should isolate and keep yourself away, but I was never a fan of lockdowns.”
De Fries has similar concerns about social media attacks on Joe Rogan of late. “He’s got a big audience, and he’s talking about stuff that they don’t want you talking about. I wouldn’t be surprised if he talks about the truckers, puts that to a wider audience. I think the media are of terrified of him, and they’ve organized this whole witch hunt to try to destroy him.”
“As long as you’re not being ridiculous or violent or inciting actual hatred, people should be able to say anything they want,” De Fries continuned. “Even if it is wrong, people should be able to make their own minds up and decide what they want to believe.”
Phil De Fries returns to action at KSW 67 this Saturday, February 26, 2022 in Warsaw, Poland. The event will air live via KSWTV.com.