Sunderland MMA fighter Phil De Fries prepares to defend world title
One of Sunderland’s most successful fighters is preparing to defend his title for the fifth time.
Phil De Fries from Thornhill is the current KSW Heavyweight MMA champion, a title he’s held for three years, and he’s confident he’ll be returning home with the belt once again after he takes on Tomasz Narkun in Lodz, Poland, on April 24.
It’s two years since the pair last faced each other in the octagon, with Phil emerging victorious.
The UFC veteran has been splitting his training between his home gym, TFT MMA in Seaham, as well as with UFC fighters, Paul Craig in Scotland and Tom Aspinall in Liverpool.
Speaking at a pad work session with pro fighter and trainer Andrew Fisher at TFT, Phil said: “I dominated the last fight and I’m confident I will this time. I’ll also get the finish this time.
"I’m feeling really good, better than I did at the last fight, and I’ve had a fantastic training camp.”
Phil first got into martial arts when he was 14 and began doing BJJ before moving on to MMA when he was 20. He fought for the biggest fight promoter in the world, UFC, in his 20s.
But it was joining TFT gym and signing to KSW, a Polish promoter, when he was 30 that’s led to his greatest success in the sport.
The 34-year-old, who is dad to Violet, four, and Willow, two, said: “I never had a coach before, I was doing it all myself, so coming here has made a huge difference. I have most of my training sessions here and it’s a really great squad.”
Phil’s fight will be broadcast nationally in Poland, and will be available on pay per view back home.
MMA is a huge sport in Poland and Phil is a well-known face in the European country.
"It’s like being a celebrity over there,” he said. “You get spotted as soon as you get to the airport. It’s great to have that support and the fans are really encouraging, but it’s nice to come home and not be recognised too. I’m not sure I could handle it all the time.”
*De Fries vs Narkun headlines KSW 60 on April 24 and the card streams live on KSWTV.com.