Thursday, 27 May 2010

Mariusz Pudzianowski: MMA’s Great Polish Hope!!!

There’s no shortage of athletes from all sorts of different sports training MMA these days, with some even preparing or pretending to prepare for actual fights. Jose Canseco competed in the DREAM Super Hulk tournament in Japan, James ‘Lights Out’ Toney has talked about fighting in the UFC and Strikeforce recently signed former NFL great Herschel Walker. One name that may have escaped the notice of US fans is making a big splash in Eastern Europe: Mariusz Pudzianowski.

Mariusz Pudzianowski is basically the Tiger Woods of the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ competition, winning the event five times–more than anyone else in history. If you’re over the age of 30, you no doubt remember when the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ was a staple of ESPN’s dark ages. Strong dudes from a variety of disciplines would carry refrigerators on their back, throw beer kegs over walls or drag railroad box cars around a parking lot. Pro wrestling geeks will remember that Ken Patera competed in the event a few times. It was a fairly impressive display of strength, of course, but didn’t really catch on among American sports fans. ESPN long ago quit covering the event, and considering the fact that they cover poker, spelling bees and eating contests that relegated the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ competition to the same level of prestige as a Tijuana donkey show.

While Americans quit caring about the event long ago, the Eastern Europeans have made it their own. 7 of the last 8 winners (even from online betting point of view) have been from Eastern Europe, and its apparently a big deal in Poland where Pudzianowski is a legit star. He’s competed on the Polish version of ‘Dancing With The Stars’, formed a rock band called the Pudzian Band known for their hit single “Zdobyć świat”. He also did a 19 month stint in the ‘grey bar motel’, which he suggests was a frame up at the behest of a local mob boss. Most recently, he’s decided to become a professional MMA fighter.

Pudzianowski, who has become known to US MMA fans as ‘Puddin’, won his fighting debut in impressive fashion defeating ‘pro boxer’ Marcin Najim by TKO via soccer kicks on a card in Poland. Najim was also making his MMA debut, but calling him a ‘pro boxer’ is a bit of a stretch. Our friends at the MMA website The Savage Science came up with this background on Najim:

Najman was a pro boxer with a record of 11-4 but I did a little research and those 11 wins came against opponents with a combined record of 41-207. He beat a guy with a 5-45 career record in his last bout, and before that fought guys with career records of 3-18 and 2-33.

So the guy that ‘Puddin’ Pudzianowski beat wasn’t exactly one of the Klitschko Brothers. Najman probably couldn’t beat a Klitschko sister. Shortly after Pudzianowski’s fight, talk turned to his next opponent. There was talk of a matchup against Aleksander Emelianenko, brother of the baddest man on the planet and a pretty tough dude himself if somewhat of an underachiever. Then again, his brother is Fedor making him MMA’s version of baseball’s Mike Maddux who was a fair to middling pitcher that had to live in the shadow of his brother, Greg, who happened to be one of the best right handers in history. Another challenger had no MMA experience but had been in plenty of fights–former NHL goon enforcer Krzysztof Oliwa. Oliwa goes 6′5″ 245 and was one of the most frightening enforcers in recent NHL history. He’s also borderline insane and legitimately likes to hurt people, including his girlfriend. Oliwa is currently awaiting trial for beating her with a hockey stick and faces his own stint in prison.

The guys at The Savage Science thought this was a pretty good matchup for Pudzianowski’s second fight and said as much in a blog post. Their thinking was that it was a matchup that would draw fans in Poland between two guys with limited MMA experience. Unfortunately, the Polish MMA fanbase reacted to their suggestion that Pudzianowski was at a level where he should be fighting retired hockey players as if the SavSci staff had collectively shat on the country’s flag. If you head over to the post we’ve linked you can read the comments for yourself but the basic take from “Puddin’s” fans is that he’s ready to be considered among the world’s top heavyweight MMA fighters and Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin and Fedor Emelianenko are all cowering in fear of their hero.

Pudzianowski is a powerful guy to be sure. And he’s got a great catch phrase: “Ta ręka niesie za sobą śmierć, a tej drugiej sam się boję” which translates to “This hand brings death, but the other one even I am afraid of.” Unfortunately, that won’t be enough for him to beat any legitimate MMA fighter in the world let alone a monster like Fedor or Lesnar who’d likely break his arm off and beat him with the bloody stump. As something of a MMA expert, my advice to Pudzianowski is this: enjoy being a big deal in Poland and keep beating up tomato can boxers and making bank. Don’t let your fans go writing checks for you that your body can’t cash. You’re better off not fighting legit heavyweights and you have no business in a ring or cage with Fedor or Brock Lesnar without a weapon. Even that might not help.


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