Erko Jun discusses the start of his MMA career, Akop Szostak and Martyn Ford

KSW return on Saturday 18th May 2019 from Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland for one of the most stacked shows in their history. All types of MMA fan are catered for as there is a mixture of high level talent, veterans of big American promotions and fun fights including well known celebrities all featuring at the event. One of those ‘fun fights’ is a heavyweight clash between two former bodybuilders and well known stars in Europe as Erko Jun (2-0) takes on Akop Szostak (3-2 1NC) in a bout where no one is expecting to hear the final horn. Jun is claiming to be the bounty hunter who is looking to take out all of the popular guys in Poland and claim their fan bases for himself. He looks to add the famous personal trainer to that list next and progress his way up the heavyweight ladder.

After making a successful MMA debut in June of last year against the Polish actor, Tomasz Oswiecinski, Jun extended his record to 2-0 in October when he defeated notorious rapper, Popek Monster. The aforementioned fight took place at Wembley Arena in London and was one of the most anticipated bouts on the card. At the start of the contest, Jun managed to avoid Popek’s big, looping punches and landed some solid kicks of his own. For the remainder of the round, most of the fight took place in the clinch along the cage with Jun being held against the fence and occasionally being able to reverse position. Jun landed a big straight left soon into the second stanza and took Popek’s back after a failed takedown attempt. He then proceeded to flatten Popek out before landing fight ending blows to get his hand raised. That performance made Jun pleased because he was able to show more areas of his game which fans didn’t see in his debut.

“Popek was too friendly and respectful before the fight,” said Jun. “He even brought me a gift for my daughter on the stare down so the fight wasn’t as intense like it should have been. However, he has all my respect and he’s a good guy. During the fight, I was wrestling with a guy who was 17kg heavier then me and I could feel the weight difference. That made me show my ground skill though so I was happy.”

“I’m pleased with how my professional MMA career has begun,” stated Jun. “I won the KO of the night for my debut so you can’t get a much better start than that! It doesn’t matter what I do in life. If I choose to do something I go for it 100%.”

As a world renowned fitness model and with over 1 million instagram followers, it would be easy to assume that Jun has had it easy his whole life. However, this is most certainly not the case. The 28 year old was born in Bosnia and remained there until he was two years old until the 1992 Bosnian War occured. Jun and his family were no longer safe living in that environment so they fled to Belgium in search of a better life where he still resides today.

It wasn’t all plain sailing once he settled in Belgium though. Growing up, he started to hang around with the wrong crowd which resulted in him getting into trouble during adolescence. Martial arts really helped him transform his life and he trained in many stand-up disciplines as he got older. A serious knee injury halted his combat training for many years so he turned his attention to lifting weights whilst recovering. During that time, he built up his profile in the fitness and bodybuilding world’s before eventually becoming the global star that he is today. It was at that point he realised that he wanted to jump back into martial arts and pursue another of his dreams. Being an MMA fighter means his workouts in the gym have totally changed from what he was doing before but he is enjoying his new venture.

“I don’t lift like when I was just bodybuilding before,” explained Jun. “During fight camp, I only have one or two strength and conditioning workouts so it’s different than what I was doing before. MMA is a gladiator sport so not everyone can do it. You push your body and mind to the limit. You know you are going to fight someone in a cage so you prepare for war.”

“UFD gym in Germany where I train is a warrior zone,” discussed Jun. “It’s like a place where soldiers come to prepare for battle. We have an apartment just above the gym where all the fighters stay so the connection between us all is very close. We are a good team that help each other become better. We have fighters from all weight categories including KSW welterweight champion Roberto Soldic and people come from all over the world to train with us. Teamwork makes the dream work, right?!”

All-time great and the man who many consider the current number one pound for pound fighter in the world, Jon Jones, recently visited UFD gym as part of a European trip. Erko Jun got the opportunity to put in some light work with the UFC light heavyweight champion which he considered a privilege. Despite the ‘bad boy’ persona that many perceive Jones to have, Jun enjoyed being around him and thought that Jones was more than hospitable towards himself and the rest of the team during his stay.

“It’s like if Ronaldo turned up at your soccer team practise so you can imagine how it felt like,” said Jun. “It was a honour to meet him and even train a bit with him for a photoshoot. He shared some knowledge with us which is priceless and best of all he stayed human. We went for food later that evening where we had a chat about life in general so he’s a cool guy!”

Jun’s opponent at KSW 49 on Saturday night is fellow bodybuilder and personal trainer, Akop Szostak. He made his KSW debut in London last year but his fight only lasted 24 seconds after his adversary received an accidental eye poke and was unable to continue. Szostak has finished 2 of his 3 wins by knockout but has also been defeated due to strikes in his two losses which suggests that he goes into the cage with a ‘kill or be killed’ attitude. Jun isn’t taking him lightly but is expecting to add to his two career knockout victories.

“I haven’t underestimated him just like I haven’t done with my previous opponents,” explained Jun. “I have taken him very seriously as I know he has trained hard for this fight because of how his last one ended with the no contest. Akop trains at a good gym and goes there very often. I believe the fight won’t last longer than 1 or 2 rounds. It will be explosive and I’m aiming for another nice KO.”

KSW made mainstream headlines late last year when they announced that film star and bodybuilder, Martyn Ford, had signed with the promotion. He is still due to make his MMA debut later this year and the opponent picked for his first fight will have the spotlight shone on them too. Jun can see why people may throw his name into the mix to step inside the cage with Ford knowing how marketable that fight could be. However, Jun isn’t overly interested in that bout as he has known Ford for many years due to their bodybuilding pasts.

“I actually expected KSW to ask me to fight him first but it hasn’t happened yet,” stated Jun. “He has a lot of media attention and is a huge guy so everyone would love to see him compete. I think he should get a fair fight for his debut.”

With his magazine cover good looks and bulging muscles, many fans at first thought that Jun just wanted to make a few headlines and get more publicity from having an MMA fight. However, Jun insists that this isn’t just a ‘flash in the pan’ move and that he has big ambitions for his MMA career. After another impressive win inside Ergo Arena, he hopes that fans and media alike will begin to realise how serious he is about his relatively new venture.

“My long term aim is to keep surprising people and set new challenges for myself,” expressed Jun. “I’ve made a name for myself in the fitness industry and I’m very well known there. That’s what I want to do in MMA as well!”

KSW 49 can be purchased at kswtv.com on Saturday night and kicks off at 6pm BST.

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