Mariusz Pudzianowski - The World’s Strongest MMA Fighter
By Ivan Spasov Editor-in-Chief at FITE
There have been many powerful athletes in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Fighters that have strength far superior to that of their competition. From people like Mark Coleman and the late Kevin Randleman, through powerhouse Shane Carwin, former UFC champion Brock Lesnar and more recently fighters like Francis Ngannou.
However none of them come even close to the raw strength of the person that we'll talk about today. This will be a story about the 5 time World's Strongest Man, the "Dominator", the man that used to pull air planes for sport - Mariusz Pudzianowski.
Again, as I've done previously, I'm not going to bore the reader with things that can be found with a quick search on Google. Date of birth, statistics recycling, a short bio of what he used to do as a kid … all that's an unnecessary padding for an opinion piece. And that's exactly what this is - an opinion piece.
I've known (probably like most of you) about Mariusz long before his MMA career began. Back in the day I used to follow the Strongman competitions just as much as I followed combat sports. Up until 2010-2011, I would watch every competition with interest. It was a very attractive scene as people got to see things that most thought unthinkable. From lifting rafts with motorcycles, through the insane Atlas Stones discipline to pulling boats and planes. Tales fit for a Hercules-type hero - and of that era, the biggest one was without a doubt Mariusz Pudzianowski.
He did have outstanding and tough competition, don't get me wrong. It was always a close call when you had guys like Žydrūnas Savickas, Derek Poundstone and other such distinct gentlemen in competition. Savickas in particular was quite tough to beat, especially in Mariusz' later career.
However that did not stop Pudzianowski from going into the Guinness World Records as the man with most "World's Strongest Man" titles ever.
There are several things that always struck me about Mariusz. One of them (and I do realize I'm repeating myself but ...) was his ease when it came to air plane pulls. Just to grind this point in a little more, I've put in a link to his 2008 plane pull at the very bottom of the article. If you're not impressed by things like that, I'm not really sure what to tell you. From the grip on the rope, to the speed and which he executed the pull, this is one of the most insane feats I've seen performed by any human being.
Another thing that always struck me about Pudzianowski was his diet as a Strongman. Again, a link to that at the bottom of the article. From the link you can also see a part of a training routine he did at the time but that's really not what had me going here. In the specific piece, Mariusz states that he'll eat as much as 10 eggs and 2-3 pounds of bacon for breakfast; a double meal of Polish pork chop, sauerkraut and potatoes for lunch; then go for more meat plus sauerkraut and potatoes. To top this all off, his in-between meals are mostly candy - chocolate and sweets.
I've always been a fan of Pudzianowski. His run in the Strongman circuit from 2002 all the way to 2009 turned him into a real celebrity. He had world-wide fame and had easily become the definition of The World's Strongest Man.
By late 2009 things would get more interesting though. KSW 12 would be the battleground where Pudzianowski would make his debut in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. It was a big buzz at the time. A lot of famous athletes had tried to transition into the ever-growing sport of MMA. Some fount success, others not so much. Everyone were wondering on which side of the line was Mariusz going to stand?
There were those that said he was too old and too stiff from the heavy lifting and that fighting is all about technique - power and strength means nothing. Then there were others saying that with such power he'll become the UFC champion in about an year or two.
Truth be told, I was with neither side. Both ideas about Pudzianowski's debut were far too tilted in each direction. Sure, technique is the cornerstone of MMA but this is not just some random big guy from the gym next door. This is a top level professional athlete at the very height of human performance. And this is not just any big and powerful dude. This is the definitive World's Strongest Man. His strength is far beyond anything that most people can put into perspective.
However on the other hand, there is no proportion between raw strength and the amount of damage one's chin can sustain. A well placed punch and no real defense base could result in a brutal KO. Unanswered leg kicks could result in an even more brutal TKO. And anyone who knows how ground fighting works can tell you that your power is no good when your arm gets snapped by a BJJ black belt.
To me, Mariusz Pudzianowski's debut was not so much a question about what he'll do and what he's capable of but rather what his opponent will do and who he is. And not to take anything away from Marcin Najman but if Mariusz' debut was not against him but say a Jeff Monson, I'm pretty sure we would not have seen a win in his initial outing.
Still, Pudzianowski had an impressive debut. And one thing was clearly visible - his strength was a great advantage. His next couple of matches would be a mixed bag of doing some things very well and others not so much. In the process, Mariusz would gain experience from fighting MMA veterans such as James Thompson (on two occasions), Butterbean, Bob Sapp, Tim Sylvia and more. Some of these matches he won, some he didn't but one thing was clear as day - he wanted to improve and he learned from his mistakes. Every time he got in there to fight, he was better, more confident, with more skills to show. As time progressed, his game plan execution became good.
Fast forward to October 2017 and you'll see the evolution of a true athlete. By this point, Pudzianowski had faced decent competition and had racked up some really good wins under his belt. It was at this point that he would face Jay Silva at KSW 40 in Dublin.
In this fight, Mariusz put on display the lethal combination of good takedowns and a clinch game with absolutely unparalleled strength. Pudzianowski had defeated the former UFC fighter by points and laid down his claim for KSW's heavyweight crown.
And that brings us to KSW 44 - an event that you can watch right here on FITE on June 9th at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.
Coming off of a loss, Bedorf is looking forward go get his Heavyweight title back and to show everybody what he's made of. He would be a very tough fight for anyone.
Having had very similar careers in a lot of ways, both Mariusz and Karol have spent the majority of their careers in KSW. Both have faced hardened veterans and both know what it's like to taste defeat. However both know the hunger to be at the top of the food chain as well.
If we were to look into records, Pudzianowski maybe has had better opposition early on in his career but Bedorf has certainly faced more active and dangerous fighters in recent years. To add to that, Mariusz has lost to some of his tougher opponents while Bedorf holds wins over Rolles Gracie, Peter Graham, James McSweeney and others.
Bedorf also displays better overall ability of the two. However the margin between them is not so huge. Yes, Bedorf is more versatile and has a better base but they both still play the power game. And that's where Pudzianowski has a huge advantage.
If Mariusz manages to implement a similar game to what he did against Silva in his last fight, he might just hold the key to success in this fight. Another thing to note is that not many people would want to trade shots with the World's Strongest Man. Pudzianowski has shown that his power can put people away just as easily as a hammer to the head. Bedorf's game plan would most likely not be to "stand and bang".
I see this as a pretty competitive fight where Bedorf has a lot more to lose compared to Pudzianowski. Mariusz improves with each fight and is riding on a massive fan base. He's proven his metal in the MMA ring. A loss to Pudzianowski on the other hand would push Bedorf down the ranking and push him hard. If someone has overhanging pressure - it's him and not so much Mariusz.
To cap things off, I want to do a quick rant on why I like KSW and why it's the perfect place for Pudzianowski.
KSW is the true definition of spectacle. To me it's the organization that does the best production in terms of showmanship, putting on interesting matches regardless of rankings, showing really intense matches that have you on the edge of your seat and most of all … to me KSW is the model of what a combat sports show should look like. Tough fighters facing each other. Wins, losses, doesn't matter. All that has any meaning is the fight and the show. That's where someone like Mariusz Pudzianowski has a chance to shine the brightest.
A place where you'll always find good opposition and where fans will always appreciate you because you put on a great performance.
As a Mariusz Pudzianowski fan from back in his Strongman days to now in his MMA career, I truly wish all the best to this tough athlete and I hope to see him in a competitive and jaw-dropping fight on the 9th of June, right here on FITE.
Links and Sources:
- Mariusz Pudzianowski's 2008 plane pull - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zm5lEzqWSM
- Mariusz Pudzianowski's Routine and Diet during a period of his Strongman career as reviewed by Nick Horton - http://www.theironsamurai.com/mariusz-pudzianowskis-diet-and-workout-schedule/