BRAVE Combat Federation

How COVID-19 pandemic changed Northern Ireland’s Maciej Gierszewski as an MMA fighter

Maciej Gierszewski (©BRAVE CF)

Maciej Gierszewski (©BRAVE CF)

“I’m a different fighter now,” Maciej “Magic Man” Gierszewski, 33, told me. On July 25, 2020, I interviewed the Polish-Northern Irish mixed martial aritst via Zoom app.

Currently, Gierszewski is in Romania for “BRAVE CF 36,” which marks his third bout in the Bahrain-based MMA promotion BRAVE Combat Federation. Before this, like almost all MMA fighters in the world, he had to continue training while he was not sure when fights are going to resume amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Originally from Lebork, Poland, Gierszewski spent the quarantine time due to the pandemic in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he has been residing since 2007. He told me, “It was a very difficult time.”

“It was a hard time because the gyms were closed so we can’t train at the club but I didn’t lose any day,” Gierszewski continued. “I was working hard throughout the pandemic.”

 

Dealing with COVID-19 in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Having lived in Belfast for several years, Gierszewski thinks he is more Northern Irish than Polish now. When it comes to how the government of Northern Ireland handled the pandemic, he has some concerns.

Although Gierszewski understands why the government had to impose social distancing, he does not understand is why people are allowed to go to the shops while gyms are closed. He noted that athletes have a stronger immune system than normal people and he understands that the number of people going to the gym should be reduced and social distancing should be observed but for him, gyms should not be closed completely.

“We are athletes,” Gierszewski said. “We are healthy.”

Enough time to improve ground game

If there is one good thing that happened to Gierszewski during the pandemic, it was the extra time that he had. He was able to focus on the things he never had enough time for including his strength, mobility, grappling, wrestling and Brazilian jiujitsu.

The Belfast resident whose background is stand-up describes himself as a dangerous striker. While he does not think his ground game is bad, he believes it can still improve a lot.

Gierszewski is coming out of an armbar submission loss to John “Trouble” Brewin, 25, of Auckland, New Zealand at “BRAVE CF 28” on November 4, 2019. The Polish-Northern Irish MMA fighter told me, “Yes, that was a big lesson for me and I hope to have a rematch someday.”

With the ground game training Gierszewski had during his quarantine time, he believes his grappling is better now and he is ready to face Brewin again. But for now, the Belfast resident has to welcome Mihai Suru Bogdan, 24, of Bistrita, Romania at “BRAVE CF 36” at Berăria H in Bucharest, Romania on July 27, 2020.

 

Fighting Mihai Suru Bogdan at “BRAVE CF 36”

Bogdan and Gierszewski will fight at a catch weight of 72kg. The Romanian contender, who is making his BRAVE CF debut, replaced Sameer Siraj, 30, of Sweden, an undefeated MMA fighter who had to pull out from the “BRAVE CF 36” card.

Gierszewski told me he did not know much about Bogdan. I asked the former if he is the kind of fighter who studies his opponent’s fight videos.

“I leave that to my coaches,” Gierszewski told me. He said his coaches research about his opponents and he just focuses on himself and does what his coaches tell him.

Compared to Gierszewski, Bogdan is very new to professional MMA. Nevertheless, the fighter from Belfast said he will still fight at “BRAVE CF 36” as if it was the hardest fight of his career.

“You have to be ready for a really hard fight,” Gierszewski said when I asked him to give a message to Bogdan. “I don’t know if you have checked it or not but I am a very hard, heavy hitter so you can expect heavy landing on your head and I wish you a good sleep.”

Why BRAVE CF is the best

Competing professionally since 2017, Gierszewski joined BRAVE CF in 2019. He shared, “I’ve competed in a lot of promotions, big promotions, Cage Warriors, BAMMA, Bellator.”

“To be honest, BRAVE Combat Federation is the best organization I have worked with so I’m so glad to be here,” Gierszewski said. “And I just signed a contract with five more fights so I’m happy right now, you know.”

Gierszewski praised BRAVE CF for the excellent way it treats the fighters and the way it organizes things. He said amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion managed to put everything under control including the flights and the COVID-19 tests.

“There’s nothing to worry for me,” Gierszewski said. “I just need to focus on my job, which is to fight so that’s why BRAVE CF is the best promotion i have worked with.”

 

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