Canadian middleweight Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz will attempt to finally work his way into a UFC contract when he takes on Mario Souza at Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday night.
The undefeated Ksiazkiewicz (8-0) has shown his ability on the regional Canadian MMA circuit, but has found it difficult to line up quality opponents, fighting just eight times since going pro in 2011.
‘Iron Pol’ Predicts Victory Over Sousa
Seven of those eight fights ended in finishes, including five submissions by rear-naked choke.
Fighting out of the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts, Ksiazkiewicz says he’s primed to become just the second Canadian to earn a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series.
“I feel I match up really well,” Ksiazkiewicz said, via Cageside Press. “I’ve probably been training twice as long as he has. I think the most awkward thing with Sousa is going to be his height. He’s like six-foot-six, like, that’s probably going to be the most awkward thing.”
The 31-year-old, who goes by the nickname “The Iron Pol,” expressed confidence that he’ll be able to continue his habit of finishing opponents on Tuesday.
“Maybe there will be a little bit of a feel-out process at first just to get used to his range,” Ksiazkiewicz said. “But I feel that I’m going to figure it out really quick and, you know, first, second-round finish is what I see right now.”
Sousa won’t simply lie down for Ksiazkiewicz. The 24-year-old Brazilian has compiled an 11-1 record in his native country. While he hasn’t fought much high-level competition, he is riding a four-fight winning streak, with each of those victories coming by stoppage. His only loss came by decision in 2018; otherwise, he’s stopped every opponent he’s faced in his career.
Levy Steps Up on Late Notice to Fight Santana
While Ksiazkiewicz is coming in with confidence, sportsbooks actually see Sousa as a slight favorite in the matchup. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Sousa at -134, with Ksiazkiewicz fetching +110 odds for the fight.
Ksiazkiewicz isn’t the only undefeated fighter competing on the Contender Series this week. Lightweight Shaheen Santana (6-0) will face off against featherweight Natan Levy (5-0) in a catchweight bout at 160 pounds.
|Dana White’s Contender Series Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Mario Sousa: -134||Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz: +110|
|Joe Lowry: +194||Nikolas Motta: -245|
|Natan Levy: -162||Shaheen Santana: +132|
|Luana Pinheiro: -430||Stephanie Frausto: +320|
|Danny Sabatello: -650||Taylor Moore: +440|
Levy comes in as a last-minute replacement for Landon Quinones, who tested positive for COVID-19. The Contender Series tapped Levy, who trains in Las Vegas at Syndicate MMA, to jump into the bout. Coach John Wood holds a high opinion of Levy, making him a dangerous late switch for Santana to face.
Perhaps based on that reputation, Levy comes into the fight at a -162 favorite over Santana (+132). Even if he wins, however, Levy might have to change things up to impress Dana White and earn a UFC contract. In each of his last three bouts, Levy has won by decision, and history has shown that finishes are a much more reliable path from the Contender Series to the big time.