Sunderland MMA fighter Phil De Fries defends world title on global stage
A Sunderland fighter has successfully defended his world title on the global stage.
Phil De Fries has brought home the KSW heavyweight title once again after winning the international belt five times, successfully defending it four times over.
The fight, which was broadcast around the world from the octagon in Lodz, Poland, was the first time the professional fighter from Thornhill has been able to fight for 15 months due to the pandemic and he says it was great to be back.
Phil, 34, who took on Michał Kita, said: “It was great to get back to doing my job. There could be some improvements, it was quite a dominant win, but I felt proud to defend the title again.
"Everyone was watching back home and the reaction has been great, the promoter was happy with the result too.”
KSW, which stands for Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki, is one of the leading fight promoters in Europe.
A professional fighter for 12 years, this is Phil’s biggest title to date. The reigning champion usually travels to Florida ahead of fights to train with the American Top Team. Although restrictions made it difficult to train abroad, training sessions at his home gym, TFT MMA in Seaham, stood him in good stead for defending his top title.
Regarded as one of the best MMA gyms in the region, 18 professional fighters, including Cal Pacino and Ryan Scope, train out of the gym ahead of bouts for the world’s biggest promoters.
Andrew Fisher, a pro fighter and trainer, who runs the gym, said: “The pros have been able to get back to training and fighting. The big shows have testing in place and money behind it, so they’ve been able to continue.”
Phil said: “It’s the best place in the North East, with the best training partners. There’s no bad eggs there, if there was they wouldn’t last long, everyone supports each other.”
Speaking about why Sunderland is home to so many successful fighters, Phil, who is dad to Violet, four, and Willow, two, added: “I think in areas of poverty, fighting pulls a lot of people in.
"For me, I used to get picked on and it started from that.”