Crossover Appeal: Heavyweight boxer Izuagbe Ugonoh makes MMA debut at KSW 54

Izuagbe Ugonoh (right) throws a heavy right hand. Credit: SportEuro

The towering Izuagbe “Izu” Ugonoh (0-0) will make his mixed martial arts debut at KSW 54: Gamrot vs. Musaev on August 29, and it’s sure to be an absolute barnburner.

Ugonoh, 33, is a former professional boxer and kickboxer hailing from Szczecin, Poland.

The 6’5″ heavyweight made his boxing debut in 2010 following a brief yet successful career in kickboxing. One of the few Poles of African heritage during his childhood, Ugonoh in 2018 told that the “ignorance” of those around him led him to pursue martial arts training as a youth.

“‘It was something that made me always visualize fighting – I was always preparing myself for, ‘What am I going to do when all hell breaks loose?‘ So it kind of became my hobby,'” Ugonoh said.

Ugonoh fought largely as an amateur light heavyweight in kickboxing, but his sizable frame and punching prowess led local promoters to lure the then-mid-20s Ugonoh to professional boxing.

In 2014, Ugonoh relocated to the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada, to train under the tutelage of 1984 Olympic silver medalist and trainer Kevin Barry.

Izuagbe Ugonoh (left) poses next to trainer Kevin Barry (right). Credit: Photosport

Under Barry’s guidance, Ugonoh bulked up to heavyweight and continued to refine his craft.

Today, Ugonoh’s boxing record stands at an impressive 18-2 (15 KOs). “Izu” also captured an array of regional titles, including the interim WBA Oceania, WBO African, and IBF Mediterranean championships over the course of his near-decade inside the squared circle.

Ugonoh faced the likes of French striking standout Grégory Tony (22-7, 16 KOs) and 2012 Olympic, WBC, and IBF heavyweight contender Dominic Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs), among others, in his five most recent bouts.

Now, however, Ugonoh will bring his talents to the realm of MMA, joining the ranks of Poland’s top promotion, Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW).

In a July press release, KSW CEO Martin Lewandowski said of signing Ugonoh, “I am extremely happy to officially sign Izu Ugonoh to KSW. If you have watched him compete in boxing you will know how explosive and dynamic he is. He brings a striking skillset into MMA that will be hard for anyone to match and he is training with one of the best MMA gyms in all of Europe so I am excited to see how he transitions into the sport of MMA.”

A promotional image from KSW’s release announcing Ugonoh’s signing. Credit: KSW

The release announced that Ugonoh had begun his MMA training at Warsaw, Poland’s Berkut WCA Fight Team, the home of UFC veterans Jan Blachowicz and Daniel Omielańczuk, Olympic wrestling medalist Damian Janikowski, and KSW legend Lukasz Jurkowski, among others.

Ugonoh, whose 6’5″ frame harbors an 84″ reach, typically weighed in at around 220-240 pounds during his boxing career.

“Izu” will face a fellow heavyweight beast in his MMA debut, as he faces Portugal’s Quentin Domingos (5-1) – who has not once gone the distance in his MMA career – in his native Poland at KSW 54.