MMA

Popek vs Norman Parke – A Throwback Freak Fight

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The current Polish freak fight scene is fueled by internet celebrities, whose popularity gathers thousands of fans both in arenas and in front of their monitors. The potential matchups are booked based on two criteria – the popularity of both participants and the potential drama it may cause. However, at Fame 13 fans will witness a freak fight which is a throwback to days of KSW putting on similar bouts and was born out of an interest to see who will come out on the top with no drama attached.  

Popek and Norman Parke come from different places and even though they fought for the same promotions in the past, the paths of mega-popular rapper and former UFC fighter cross in a freak fight put on by Fame MMA. 

Norman storming through KSW

“Stormin” Norman Parke made his debut in Poland at KSW’s biggest event in history, KSW 39, which was held at National Stadium in Warsaw, challenging for Mateusz Gamrot’s Lightweight title. The fighter from Northern Ireland lost by unanimous decision, but thanks to his performance he was awarded an immediate rematch. 

At KSW 40: Dublin, Parke had a chance to grab the title once again. Unfortunately, he didn’t make weight, and bout itself was declared as No Contest after Gamrot incidentally poked Parke in the eye. After bouncing back and stacking up five-fight winning streaks, with four of them taking place inside the KSW’s circular cage and coming against former champions and title challengers, Parke won the KSW Interim Lightweight Championship at KSW 50: London to earn a trilogy fight against “Gamer” Gamrot. 

At KSW 53, he once again took on Gamrot in a unification bout, but history has repeated itself, and Parke once again did not make weight. As a result, he was stripped of the interim title, but it did not change anything as he lost to Gamrot via third-round doctor stoppage. 

Through his stint in KSW, Parke showed that he is more than capable and willing to involve himself in a trash-talking battle. He quickly became one of the most talked-about KSW fighters, whose arrogance has no limits. He did not pull any stops when it came to verbally assaulting his opponents or the promotion itself, and that is why when Fame MMA wanted to acquire his services, KSW was more than happy to let him go.  

Popek Set to Return

Popek‘s life story is so unique that there have been two documentaries already made and a third just premiered recently. A diamond, gold, and platinum recording artist, he creates music in various genres from rap through punk rock to guitar ballads. This may surprise many as he is best known as the leader of notorious Albanian Gang, a hip-hop group that took the Polish scene by storm thanks to their unique mix of vulgarity and dark humor. His appearance goes well with his personality as he is covered in tattoos – even his eyeballs – and had his face scarred by a specialist and has gold teeth implants.

But long before his drastic changes and erratic behavior, like being hanged on meathooks, he fell in love with MMA. While staying in England, where he went to avoid Polish law enforcement back in 2007, he started training and fought two times for Cage Rage. He was victorious in both fights, finishing both before the end of the second round. His third bout took place at FX3 and this time he himself was finished. Due to a riot caused by his fans present at the event, Popek was banned from British MMA competition. 

Thanks to his popularity in both Poland and the UK, mainly within the Polish minority residing on the islands, Popek was invited by KSW to help promote their KSW 32 event, which was held in at Wembley Arena. After his arrest warrant was canceled, he returned to Poland in 2016 and made his KSW debut against Mariusz Pudzianowski at KSW 37 and lost via TKO. His next fight took place at the aforementioned KSW 39, where he defeated famous bodybuilder Robert Burneika. This was the only win in his KSW tenure as it was followed by losses against actor Tomasz Oświęciński and another bodybuilder in Erko Jun. This losing streak led to Popek being released by KSW as he stated that he lost interest in MMA. This is why everyone was surprised when he announced that he signed with Fame MMA.

Fight Breakdown

Parke was brought to Fame because their biggest star Don Kasjo demanded a bigger challenge than fighting other internet celebrities. He wanted to fight professional fighters with UFC credentials and as a Polish amateur boxing champion, he wanted to do that in his base sport. Parke fought him at Fame 10 back in 2021, picking up a unanimous decision victory, and got himself a bar of gold and Kasjo’s championship title belt with the word ‘King’ placed on it. This victory led to a short boxing chapter in Parke’s career as he fought two more times in that sport, losing the second bout to Gamrot’s friend Borys Mańkowski – whom he defeated previously in KSW. 

Popek made his Fame debut in 2020 when he defeated Warsaw Shore TV series star Stiffler via armbar. It was a dominant performance, so it was just a matter of time to see him again inside Fame’s cage. At Fame 9, he was scheduled to take on a fellow rapper in Kizo. Unfortunately, he broke his hand, but sometimes something good can come out of the bad situation, which was the case with Popek’s injury.   

During his rehabilitation, the self-proclaimed king of Albania had much time to reflect on his life and priorities. Gone were days of wild parting, drugs, and booze – which led him to self-mutilation – as he decided to fully focus on his family. When he renewed his training, Fame presented him with four potential opponents, and Popek has decided to take on the one presenting the biggest challenge- Parke. 

They will finally meet this Saturday at Fame 13. For Parke, this will be a comeback to MMA after two years spent boxing other MMA fighters, and for Popek, this will be the biggest challenge of his career. Unlike other fight card participants, they do not dwell on animosity – either real or staged – and just want to see who will be a winner in their fight. Popek plans to utilize his strength and 30 kg weight advantage and will try to knock Parke out. Parke’s strategy is to use his experience and conditioning and take his opponent to the deep water, rendering him defenseless. Still, the unpredictability factor is so high that one can only wonder what really will happen inside the cage, and that is the sheer essence of entertainment-based bouts. This fight will be a throwback to days of David vs. Goliath matchups, and also it is based on the basics of the freak fight, where unique matchups were not an extension of internet-born drama.  

Fame 13 takes place Saturday, March 26, at 3:00pm ET / 12:00pm PT and will be broadcast live on the promotion’s website via PPV. 

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