Strongman icon Mariusz Pudzianowski looking for fifth-straight KO on KSW return

Mariusz Pudzianowski, who was crowned World's Strongest Man on a record five occasions between 2002 and 2008, is looking for a fifth-straight KO victory as his MMA career goes from strength to strength.

The Polish juggernaut headlines KSW 70 this weekend and faces his toughest test yet in former middleweight king Michal Materla, who has 31 professional MMA victories to his name.

Pudzianowski himself is on the best run of his career with four devastating wins over the past three years, the latest of which came in the form of a blistering 18-second demolition of 23-stone rival Serigne Ousmane Dia.

A megastar at home in Poland, Pudzianowski took time out of his busy schedule to speak to Daily Star Sport on fight week, explaining of his preparations: "I'm having a great time.

"I won't let myself feel any pressure until about two hours before the fight. That's how I'm at my best."

Now 45, Pudzianowski began his professional MMA career in 2009, and has put together his recent run of highlight-reel triumphs following 12 wins from his first 19 outings.

His next test, against agile 6ft former middleweight champion and light-heavyweight contender Materla, comes after Pudzianowski knocked out 6ft 5in Dia, known as the Bombardier, with a straight right that sent shockwaves around the arena.

He continued: "The only changes I've made to my training is sparring partners, I made no other adjustments when it comes to preparation – plenty of conditioning, strength work and skill training."

Materla, 38, climbs up two weight classes to heavyweight following a win over Brit Jason Radcliffe in January, having been middleweight champion as recently as 2020.

Pudzianowski says of his opponent: "That's the beauty of MMA. If you weigh around 200lbs you have plenty of options. But what is going to occur, we don't really know."

Pudzianowski's move into the MMA game may have initially come as a surprise, but he has shown his versatility in the past by taking part in the Polish version of Dancing with the Stars as well as playing Rugby Union.

His career surge as he hits his mid-40s is no fluke according to the man himself, with the transition to MMA from strongman events taking years to perfect.

He concludes: "The more MMA I do, the better I am. I needed the time to switch. When I was a powerlifter I had a massive muscle power over me.

"My bods composition was completely different and I needed to lose a lot of weight.

"While doing that I've been able to build up my skills and experience."

Mariusz Pudzianowski vs. Michal Materla takes place on Saturday, May 28, at the Atlas Arena in Lodz, Poland. And can be streamed on from the UK from 6pm.

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