KSW heavyweight champion Phil De Fries is not the same man who fell early to Todd Duffee in their 2012 meeting back in the UFC.
The British heavyweight will be the first to tell you that. The De Fries of 2012 was going through a dark time, not just in fighting but in life — his struggles with anxiety and alcoholism now well-documented.
On Saturday, atop KSW 79, the Polish promotion’s debut in nearby Czech Republic, De Fries had a rare opportunity — to avenge that loss to Duffee in a rematch a decade in the making.
De Fries, on a ten-fight win streak with seven title defenses, made the most of it, returning the favor and stopping Duffee inside of a round.
Duffee had been the center of attention ahead of the fight, turning up on The MMA Hour and elsewhere after a three-year absence. He promised to take care of a fighter he’d labelled “boring” despite admitting that the Phil De Fries of 2023 was a very different athlete.
It wasn’t long, however, before Duffee was on the ground. Soon enough, he’d given up his back, with De Fries mounted on top of him. Down came the ground n’ pound, as Duffee covered up, escape out of the question, and too much time on the clock to weather the storm.
The ref waved it off. De Fries had title defense #8 in the bag, and his eleventh straight win.
With Michal Kita defeating Daniel Omielańczuk earlier in the night, what comes next for De Fries will be interesting. The promotion recently announced a return to Poland’s national stadium, PGE Narodowy, in Warsaw this June. Having the heavyweight title on the line at KSW Colosseum 2 is a no-brainer — but with De Fries continuing to clean out the division (he’s already defeated Kita, and everyone else the promotion has thrown at him), the question is, who’s left?