Don’t compare me to Gooty. It burns and holds no pressure

Krzysztof Smajek: What did you learn about yourself after losing the fight with Marek Samociuk?

Izu Ugonoh: I found out that I had a health problem that I needed to take a closer look at. At the end of the first lap I suffocated, I had no more oxygen. When I had problems with efficiency and fitness in the past, I trained harder, but it didn’t work. The problem ran deeper than that. After the fight I went to the doctor and learned more about myself.

What was the problem?

I don’t want to talk about it because it’s my personal matter. Most importantly, we’ve found the root of the problem.

After the KSW 60 gala, the fans wondered what happened to you. In the first round you dominated your opponent and it seemed like you were one blow from the end of the fight.

It was the first time I grounded my opponent and I had no experience. In this plane, the body is arranged differently and blows differently. From the corner I heard prompts to keep hitting him. I kept punching and thought the referee would stop the fight, but he didn’t, and I got to the point where there was no turning back.

What happened in your corner after the first round?

I consciously tried to regulate my breathing, but I couldn’t. Before the second round I was no longer fit to fight. When you can’t breathe anymore, it’s no longer a matter of character or skill or whatever. Only the survival instinct worked. “Then why didn’t you stay in the corner?” my friend asked me. I didn’t stay because I never gave up like this. I didn’t want to take a win like that away from Marek.

Would you make that decision today?

Even if I went to the second round execution, I would have done the same.

Someone in the corner wanted you to throw up?

Absolutely not, because this situation surprised everyone. It was a bad photo and I don’t want to show it to people anymore. I couldn’t leave the cage alone. After the fight I was connected to oxygen, but that didn’t help. Only after an hour I could breathe normally. I then realized there was something wrong with my health. That’s why I went to the doctor, because if you’re sick, go to the doctor, not a psychologist, because he won’t help you if you have a problem with your body.

Many people suggested that you lost because you had head failure and you couldn’t handle the pressure. Andrzej Gołota, for example, struggled with such problems.

Don’t compare me to Gołota, because he had completely different problems than mine. He burned down for the fight and didn’t hold the pressure. I have no problem with that. People around me can confirm this. After the loss of Samociuk, it was the perfect time to collect bullets from everyone. Even from those who are unfamiliar with martial arts, or who have never had a good mouthing. Opinions prevailed that I have no condition and no psyche. People will always talk, I don’t care. I was sorry for another reason. I worked hard in training and in battle I couldn’t show what I had trained. I lost something that was inside of me. I’ve probably let a lot of people down, but none more than myself.

It will be a year since your last fight. Why did you take such a long break?

I wanted to come back as soon as possible, unpack myself and forget about the loss of Samociuk. I was ready to fight at least six months ago. But it seems to me that the heads of KSW didn’t know who to match me with. Maybe they were disappointed that I lost this way, because they had great expectations of me. I can understand them, but time is running out and I don’t want to wait. Matchmaker KSW does not have an easy task as my rival cannot be an MMA virtuoso but it should be an interesting fight for a fan. This is how this company works. It doesn’t take away from the fact that I want to fight as often as possible. Hope to get into the cage soon.

Want a rematch with Samociuk?

Marek is a very nice guy and a good player, I have nothing against him, but I think a rematch would be the best solution. Attachments have already been made for this. I think I need to have one fight, win it, and then we can come back to this topic.

In terms of your health, are you ready to fight?

I believe things are getting better, but only in a situation of great stress and challenge will it be possible to see if the problem is solved.

After your defeat with Samociuk, you disappeared from the media. Why did you step aside?

I was urged to do so, but now I don’t think it was necessarily a good decision. I would have acted differently today, not just on this point.

Artur Ostaszewski claims you can be the KSW champion in two or three years. Would you sign under your manager’s words?

Artur sees me working and has reasons to think so. This year will be a breakthrough for me. If my health is in order and I am able to fight three rounds of five minutes, I will be able to win with many fighters. But there’s no point in talking about it now, because it’s a dream. I am also considering a scenario where I will have to pack my toys and do something else.

Would you be able to end your career overnight and quit martial arts? Many players struggle with that.

Many things prevent players from ending their careers. The longer I stay in this business, the more I can understand players who have fought longer than I should have. Sometimes it is a passion, sometimes it is an addiction, but there are also people who cannot find another way in life. Change is hard, it takes courage. I don’t want to delve too much into philosophy, even though it’s an important part of life. But it’s worth asking yourself: why and why are you doing something? I have won a lot, I have sports achievements that I am proud of, but I still dream of another victory. I’d like to get into a fight that I’ll be happy about. I don’t even mean the result, although it is known that I would like to win. This is my inner goal, I don’t mean people applauding me.

In the meantime, have you had any offers to get back into boxing?

Yes and no. There are many martial arts organizations on the market, but I have a contract with KSW. If the situation changes and there is no such contract, I will certainly not be bored.

There are more and more federations in Poland that organize freak galas. Do you follow their development?

I never said anything about that, but I like freak events because people have a good time there. At the highest level of sports, there are players who fight to the death because martial arts replace them with wars. Some fighters would rather die in combat than lose. That’s why I like freak galas, because it’s a looser version of martial arts. I saw a High League gala recently and was impressed, the stands were packed and the fighting was interesting. Freak fighty attracted crowds of fans who were not previously interested in martial arts. In addition, people who are not involved in sports on a daily basis have to prepare for battle and that certainly has a positive impact on their lives.

Professionals also fight at freak galas. Do you see a place for yourself there?

I haven’t thought about it because I now have different ambitions and goals.

And your return to boxing is definitely out of the question?

I would help Michał Cieślak spar for his fight with Lawrence Okolie. And on this occasion the most important thing came up, the fight itself still turns me on, I spar regularly in the WCA, but I am not attracted to boxing sparring. Many people wonder why I stopped boxing, some say I did it too early. Boxing has crashed and destroyed many people. If someone likes to do this, let him fight as long as he wants. He will face the consequences later. I gave boxing for nine years of my life, but I got to the point where I realized I didn’t have the heart anymore. Although sometimes I have such thoughts that I would like to go back to boxing. Before the rematch with Łukasz Różański, who had one of those moments when I wasn’t in the ring and he drove for me. Sometimes I think I wish Łukasz would meet Izu in the ring who wants to fight. It will never come to that, of course, because I’m definitely done with boxing. But I am an athlete and sometimes these thoughts come to my mind.

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