Sunderland MMA star Phil De Fries gearing up for Todd Duffee KSW fight

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Sunderland heavyweight champ Phil De Fries is gearing up for his first big fight of 2023.

One of Wearside’s most-successful fighters ever, Phil, 36, from Thornhill will defend his KSW heavyweight title when he takes on former UFC heavyweight Todd Duffee who is coming out of retirement.

Duffee has signed with Polish fight promoter KSW and is set to challenge for the promotion’s heavyweight title against Phil on February 25 at KSW 79 which takes place in the Czech Republic.

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“It’s the first time KSW has fought outside of Poland since Covid so it’s set to be a big one,” said dad-of-two Phil.

Phil De Fries at KSW 74. Photo by Sebastian RudnickiPhil De Fries at KSW 74. Photo by Sebastian Rudnicki
Phil De Fries at KSW 74. Photo by Sebastian Rudnicki

"Last time I took Todd Duffee on was in the UFC 10 years ago when he knocked me out, so there’s a score to settle. Back then, I wasn’t in the best place with my mental health, but he’ll be taking on the real me this time and I’m feeling great. I don’t feel any pressure though, all I care about when I go in there is the man in front of me.

"There’s a big squad of us going over to Czech Republic so it should be a great atmosphere. I always get fantastic support from home too.”

Phil was last in the cage last autumn when he successfully defended his title against former Chelsea goalkeeper Ricardo Prasel in a championship bout, winning by first-round submission via rear-naked choke.

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It saw the 6ft4 city fighter defend his World Heavyweight MMA title for the seventh time, winning it eight times, the only person in the world to do so for a major organisation.

Phil is gearing up to defend his World Heavyweight title. Photo by Sebastian RudnickiPhil is gearing up to defend his World Heavyweight title. Photo by Sebastian Rudnicki
Phil is gearing up to defend his World Heavyweight title. Photo by Sebastian Rudnicki

Phil, who fights out of TFT in Seaham, is undefeated since he signed to KSW, one of the world’s biggest fight promoters.

He’s one in a wave of successful fighters who hone their skills at the gym in Strangford Road, which is run by fellow Sunderland fighter and coach Andrew Fisher.

However, for this latest bout his fight camp is taking place in Manchester where he’s sparring against UFC fighter Tom Aspinall.

KSW 79 takes place at the Home Credit Arena in Liberec, Czech Republic.