Karol Bedorf - Will The King Return?
During this run he had victories over some pretty good competition - he won against veterans Peter Graham and James McSweeney as well as submission specialist Rolles Gracie.
Bedorf's reign as champion was very solid. After becoming KSW's champion in 2013, Karol racked up a total of three consecutive defenses before losing the belt to Fernando Rodrigues.
Ever since that loss, the belt has switched hands almost constantly. From Rodrigues, through Polish MMA and Kickboxing great Marcin Rozalski to current champion Phil De Fries.
Now Karol Bedorf is eyeing a return to his throne. But before he can do that he has one of the hardest tasks to fulfill. On the 6th of June 2018, at 1:00 PM Eastern time, right here on FITE, Bedorf will face off against the 5 time World's Strongest Man and current KSW top contender Mariusz Pudzianowski.
With this tough task ahead of him, I began to think … what are the keys to success for Karol here? What made him such a powerhouse of a champion, what was the thing in him that put him above everybody else in that division at the time? Let's look into it a bit closer.
Bedorf is a very strong and massive fighter. At 6'2", he's nearly 260 lbs and has the frame of a tank. Very powerful and enforcive in the clinch, he's very explosive when it's time to go from that position. If his opponent tries to bully him, Karol would wrap around and push for the cage/ring and make the opposing fighter carry him for a while. And just when the time is right, Bedof would explode with powerful shots and the fight would go from an exhausting clinch to a stand-up onslaught.
And it's that exact onslaught that I feel is Karol's scariest weapon. He pushes forward with each shot, going straight ahead with authority. Throwing shots with mean intentions, forcing his opponents to take steps back, to go on a retreat.
To add to that, Bedorf has some of the most thunderous, powerful and painful looking leg kicks out there. When he kicks the fighter in front of him, it's like Karol is chopping a tree with an axe.
Usually his opponents make the big mistake of thinking that going back and covering up keeps them safe from the forward-moving straights and explosive uppercuts. That's when Bedorf strikes the hardest - leg kick when they don't expect. The guard goes down, the onslaught continues. Or if their back is pressed against the cage - clinch, shots to the head … release into an uppercut.
When Karol fought Fernando Rodriguez Jr., he was not able to maintain that game plan. Fernando was the one moving forward. And he was more than happy to exchange shots with Bedorf, despite nearly getting knocked unconscious a couple of times. Rodriguez took a big bite into his mouthpiece and stood in front of Karol and although Bedorf's clinch game was still pretty on point, it was the fact that Fernando did not allow to be bullied in the exchanges.
When looking into the Pudzianowski fight we have to think of how that scenario might play out. Surely, all measures will be taken - Bedorf has lost before and has improved after each loss. This one will surely not be different. However we have to take several things into account when talking about this upcoming matchup. Mariusz' strength is a thing of legend and one thing he's shown consistently is that he's able to use it in MMA context. His clinch game is also pretty good and I think that if it were to come to this, Pudzianowski has all the tools to counter Bedorf in that department.
When it comes to the stand-up part of the game though, I feel Karol has a major advantage. We've seen Mariusz rattled and being pushed back by fighters that implement that tactic worse than Bedorf. Pudzianowski is not one to stand in the pocket and trade shots. Also checking leg kicks is not his forte. One thing that still remains a major threat though is Mariusz' power. Although Bedorf is used to throwing shots at people, does he really want to take the risk of being on the receiving end of a Pudzianowski overhand right?
And one last (but not least) thing that we shouldn't forget - the ground game. Mariusz' strength … again with that but I really do feel like it's something that can't be overlooked. He manages to do so much work with it when it comes to that aspect of MMA. Throwing people down with authority, holding them down and grinding them out. However Bedorf has shown he's more than capable of avoiding the ground if he wants to. He's proven to be able to execute his gameplan and avoid what he needs to avoid while doing what he needs to do.
I don't have a clear favorite in this match and it's one that I'm really looking forward to.
If Karol Bedorf wins this fight however, I feel it's just a matter of time before he makes a claim for his lost crown. I'd really love to see him face Phil De Fries. If not that, a rematch with Fernando Rodriguez would be nice as well.
In any case, before looking into the future, we need to concentrate on the present. Tune in on the 6th of June, at 1:00 PM Eastern here on FITE and see how this one unfolds.