For those who watch KSW regularly, there’s no need to introduce Szymon Kołecki, who’s one of the promotion’s top stars. At least he was until last Tuesday when he announced his departure from the Polish leading MMA organization in an interview with one of the biggest news websites in the country. Polish Olympic gold and silver Medalist in weightlifting with 9 – 1 record in Mixed Martial Arts became synonymous with KSW, where he’s undefeated, and earned respect and admiration of Polish fans. So his decision to part ways with the promotion came as a big surprise.
We will look at what exactly led to Kołecki’s decision, and what future may hold for him?
The Root of All Evil
In the mentioned interview, Szymon admitted that he received a proposition of title fight against KSW Light Heavyweight champion – Tomasz Narkun. In his words, the bosses of promotion broke their promise that he will get one more fight before this year’s end, and later they will negotiate title fight details, pay rise included. Also, having only eight weeks to prepare after two-month hiatus (Kołecki won against Akop Szostak on July 17th at KSW 62) wasn’t enough time for him.
So money played a big role in the whole situation, and it’s a major factor in the decision-making process for Kołecki. Szymon often mentioned that MMA for him is an adventure that allows him to ensure his kids’ future.
Absolute Championship Akhmat
Believe it or not, the Chechen organization has a strong fanbase in Poland. ACA held 10 events in the country, each time highlighting local talents. The problem is, that their biggest Polish star – UFC veteran and former ACA Heavyweight champion, Daniel Omielańczuk – announced that his next fight will be the last in his career. This may be a strong blow to their popularity in Poland. In that case, a household name like Szymon Kołecki would be a perfect solution. ACA’s representative Baysangur Edelbiev was asked about the possibility of requiring Kołecki’s services and stated, that if the ex-Olympian is looking for a challenge, then the Chechen promotion is the obvious choice. However, it could mean a salary reduction in comparison to his KSW days, as he presents name value in his home country only.
ACA indeed has a deep talent pool, especially in its’ Light Heavyweight division, so there wouldn’t be a shortage of challenging matchups. Szymon is an ambitious fighter that always, with exception of the title fight against Borys Mańskowski, accepted proposed adversaries. Polish fans would welcome his presence in Absolute Championship Akhmat with open arms, especially those who reject the entertainment-based product presented by KSW.
Salary issues aside, the main obstacle is ACA itself. The Chechen promotion has ties to Ramzan Kadyrov’s regime, which may cause issues when it comes to holding an event in Poland. Kołecki has never fought abroad, and maybe wouldn’t be eager to do that, limiting his options to events held in his home country.
Offcourse Konfrontacja Sztuk Walk isn’t the only MMA organization in Poland. There are also Fight Exclusive Night (FEN for short), or Babilon MMA, in which Kołecki began his Mixed Martial Arts journey. Both have deals with the same tv station, Polsat, and both would happily sign another one, with Szymon to be exact. But it’s highly doubtful that either of them could meet his financial expectations. Not to mention that to fans both represent a stepdown in Kołecki’s career.
Enter the Coach Mirek
If you’ve watched Michał Oleksiejczuk post-fight interview at UFC 267, then you must remember some random guy shouting “Woaaaaa” to the microphone. That’s not some random guy from Oleksiejczuk corner, that’s his coach, Mirosław Okniński, Mirek for short. He also trains Szymon, and with every occasion praises him for his work ethic and gameplan execution.
Coach Mirek is a colorful and polarizing figure, who always says what he thinks, and uses a variety of crazy, over-the-top ideas to promote his fighters, will it be pro wrestling like promo from some basement or hype video presented as a field trip to a farm.
When the polish MMA community was wondering what’s next for Kołecki, Okniński made headlines with just one phone call.
Welcome to Fame MMA, hope you survive the experience
Let’s sidetrack for a moment. You may wonder what’s this Fame MMA is and what’s so famous about it? It’s a promotion based on bouts between YouTubers, and other Internet celebrities. That’s right, your eyes don’t deceive you. Imagine yourself Paul brothers fight card based on Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok personalities only. The more popular, the better. Their press conferences are full of foul language and vulgar behaviour. But truth be told, Fame MMA took the Polish market by storm, and in just three years became a force to reckon with.
With growth came understanding, that celebrities will take you so far and to expand a fanbase beyond teenagers that follow their Internet idols, there must be something for regular MMA fans also. That’s why Fame MMA decided to sign contracts with fighters like Norman Parke or Borys Mańskowski, who both are KSW veterans. And it worked because there was even more interest in Fame MMA events, and promotion could drop the label of being an abomination of MMA.
Szymon Kołecki, Fame MMA, National Stadium in Warsaw
So as mentioned, Coach Mirek made one phone call. It took place during Fame MMA Cage program, which was broadcast via YouTube. During this call, Okniński has confirmed that Kołecki is a free agent, and he doesn’t exclude the possibility of signing with the promotion… on satisfying terms, of course. He also dropped Michal Materla name, a former KSW Middleweight champion who is also a free agent, as a potential opponent.
In another interview, Okniński presented an idea of Kołecki fighting one of Fame’s biggest stars, Kasjusz “Don Kasjo” Życiński in a boxing match. In his opinion, this bout could sell out National Stadium in Warsaw, which has a capacity of over 70,000 and hosted KSW 39.
Are those are rumblings of a madman, or maybe there’s something to it? Both Fame MMA and KSW indeed participate in the arms race for a top position in Poland. Szymon Kołecki would present a significant boost to respected rosters, and draw the attention of fans. What’s more, Fame MMA has shown capability and more willingness to offer lucrative contracts and bring attractive names if it means adding value to promotions’ name value. For Kołecki it could mean a bigger salary without compromising his sports ambition. If only he will decide to put up with all the shenanigans that are synonymous with Fame MMA.
Return to KSW?
One of the KSW owners, Maciej Kawulski posted on Twitter, that promotion is ready to sit down and talk with Szymon about contract renewal.
What future holds for Szymon Kołecki? We assume he will try to involve both KSW and Fame MMA in the bidding war and choose the most profitable option available. As a family man, he wants to make a good living for his wife and children and ensure their future. So money plays a huge role in the selection of a future employer. Either of them can provide worthy opponents, so there’s no risk that a former Olympian would degrade to a freak fighter.
As far as other promotions go, they’re out of the question due to a lack of financial backing, or interest in Kołecki himself.
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