As counterintuitive as it may seem, sometimes the best thing that can happen to a rising fighter is for them to take a loss.
Even though mixed martial arts doesn’t have the same craze for unbeaten records as you see in boxing, and many of the sport’s luminaries have suffered a setback or two, there’s still pressure that comes with the rise in rows with a zero in the loss column. The longer you go unblemished, the greater the pressure becomes, and carrying that burden can quickly become overwhelming.
“It took a lot of the pressure off, losing that 0,” Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz said when we spoke ahead of his middleweight clash with Eli Aronov this week at Unified 45. The Winnipeg-based fighter suffered the only loss of his career on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) not quite two years ago, dropping a unanimous decision from Brazilian Mario Sousa, and has since bounced back with back-to-back first-round wins, including a quick finish over Graham Park at Unified 42 to win the super middleweight title. “You lose and you realize it’s not the end of the world; you still have your health, you can still compete.
“It took a lot of the stress away because when you’re undefeated and you keep winning, other people expect you to keep that record spotless, and the stress just keeps piling up. Losing took everything away. stress.
“I experienced it, learned from it and have been in tears ever since.”
Ksiazkiewicz was unable to immediately get back into action after his loss to Sousa, in part because it occurred in the middle of the first year of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but also because he broke his hand and was forced to undergo surgery to put things back in place.
After the operation, the 32-year-old suffered severe nerve damage. Doctors warned him it could linger for up to 18 months, but luckily for the middleweight he was able to pick up the pace last summer.
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“It was so bad,” he said of the ongoing issues with his left hand. “I was hitting the bag and my hand was going dead. I couldn’t move my fingers—it felt like they were on fire—and I lost all function of my hand.
“It wasn’t until July that the nerve damage started to fade,” continued Ksiazkiewicz, who was 8-0 before his DWCS appearance and is 10-1 in his clash. with Aronov on Friday. “All the time we were working on strength and conditioning, cardio – we could do it all, but we had to be more careful because of the hand.