He's 3-0 in UFC with a knockout and two Submission of the Night bonuses, and in a week at UFC 102, he's scheduled for a shot at Brandon Vera, one of the more prominent fighters in UFC's light-heavyweight division.
"I've changed over the course of some time in the last two years, where I'm just come into my own," Soszynski told me today. "Everything's working out perfectly."
I spoke to Soszysnki this afternoon about Vera, pro wrestling and his career in general. Excerpts from our conversation:
Q. You used to be a professional wrestler. What convinced you to switch to MMA?
It's a really weird story for me, how I got from wrestling to MMA.
Actually, to be honest with you, I was never a huge fan of mixed martial arts. I (watched) UFC 1 and 2, and I never really found anything really fascinating about them, was never really hooked on them or anything like that.
I met Bad News Brown, a former WWE wrestler from the '80s and the '90s, and he at one time was an Olympic bronze medalist in judo. He spent a lot of time in Japan working on his aikido and jiu-jitsu.
I had a chance to go to Calgary and train with him for two weeks. And the way he makes his young wrestlers train is, he makes them actually grapple. He showed me an armbar and a kimura, and I was extremely hooked.
I didn't believe that stuff worked when I first watched the show, (when) I watched UFCs. All of a sudden, I was able to put somebody in it and it worked, and somebody put me in it and it worked.
I just found it fascinating and I quickly quit wrestling and then took up jiu-jitsu class, and six months later I had my first fight.
So my road to mixed martial arts and to the UFC is a lot different than most.
Q. Other fighters who have done pro wrestling have told me that they believe it has helped them in MMA. What, if anything, carried over from pro wrestling for you?
You know, the one main thing I've found that really carries over is that I already have performed in front of a large group of people.
I find a lot of people, when they get into UFC or if they get into the bigger shows, they get shell-shocked at the amount of people that are in the audience; the amount of people that are in the back, with all the press and the media; the amount of people at the weigh-ins.
For me, it was a lot easier going into those kind of things, because I was able to perform in front of two, three, four, five thousand people, on a wrestling show before.
You use the people as a drive, whether you're a bad guy or a good guy in wrestling, you feed off the crowd, and that's something that has really helped me getting into mixed martial arts. I didn't feel the pressure from the fans; I didn't feel the pressure from the huge crowds. I was able to go out there and just be myself.
Q. Which would you say is harder to master, pro wrestling or fighting?
read full interview...
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