Three years dealing with a stomach illness, partnered with a shoulder surgery, forced Krzysztof Jotko to compete against the current No. 7 ranked UFC middleweight Sean Strickland at less than 100 percent in May of 2021, leading to his only loss since 2018.
A year removed from those health concerns, and Jotko picked up two consecutive victories, most recently against submission artist Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Fight Night: Font vs Aldo in April.
Picking up four submissions in his last five bouts, opponents often try and avoid the mat when competing against “GM3”. Jotko wasn’t fazed. Four takedowns later and nearly double the significant strikes, Jotko had earned a unanimous decision victory. Jotko was proud of his performance but knows there’s still room for improvement.
“I [didn’t] finish him,” Jotko said. “I had three rounds with him, but I think I won every round and dominated this fight, so I’m happy with this.”
“I don’t know what my problem was [before] but I suffered a little bit. [But] every fight I feel better, I feel better in my body, and I promise you this camp was one of the best in my career. I didn’t get injured, my stomach was good, everything was good, and I’m ready to smash this guy.”
“This guy” refers to his UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan opponent, Brendan Allen. Like Meeschaert, Allen is a very dangerous opponent during grappling exchanges, and Jotko sees very similar tendencies between the two middleweights.
The best camp of his career happened down in Coconut Creek, Florida, at American Top Team, a world-renowned gym known for hosting some of the world’s most talented mixed martial artists, including UFC stars Dustin Poirier and Jorge Masvidal. Having dozens of the world’s best fighters train and spar with you day in and day out can seem daunting, but it’s helped Jotko grow into what he feels is an elite fighter.
“I’m at the best gym in the world, American Top Team,” Jotko said. “We have the best sparring partners there, so I had a very hard training camp. I sparred with Bellator [middleweight] champion Johnny Eblen. They’re such athletes, such monsters, so I’m very confident and ready for this guy.”
On Saturday night, a win is non-negotiable, but a Polish power-inspired knockout is what Jotko is hunting for. On the cusp of the UFC middleweight rankings, a knockout over a talented Allen may put a number by his name early next week.
Getting through Allen will be a difficult test, however. The 26-year-old has picked up seven wins in the promotion since his arrival from Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019. To no one’s surprise, Allen strongly backs up his own skill set, and thinks that he’s simply too fast and athletic for Jotko to deal with. When told this, Jotko couldn’t help but be overcome with a chuckle and a grin, for this is what he’s heard before every fight in his career.
“I hear this so many times and what happens later,” Jotko asked. “People step with me in the Octagon and say, ‘What the f***, this guy’s so good.’ I’ll show him how good I am.
“I’ll step in the Octagon and show that I’m an excellent fighter and show [my] heart, beat this guy and show that I’m the real deal in this division.”
UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!