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Marcin Tybura of Poland is interviewed backstage during the UFC Fight Night ceremonial weigh-in at The O2 Arena on July 21, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
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MARCIN TYBURA: SMALL SUCCESSES

Polish Veteran Explains His Approach To Life And Career Ahead Of Headlining Assignment Opposite Tai Tuivasa

Ahead of his main event assignment in London last July, Marcin Tybura spoke about focusing on the small successes like being a headliner, holding down permanent residence in the fighter rankings, and the generally strong results he’d put together over his previous eight outings.

Paired off with returning Brit Tom Aspinall, the Polish veteran saw the potential for a key victory and a move closer to the Top 5, but it all went by the boards in a flash.

“That was my biggest danger — fighters storming at me in the first minute,” Tybura said with a smile, recalling the rapid loss to the man that currently carries the interim heavyweight title ahead of his return to action this weekend at the UFC APEX. “I knew if the fight would go on, I would be getting a better chance to win it, but the biggest danger is in the first minute of the fight.

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“He used that, and the level he’s showing right now — he’s the champion right now — that cheered me up a little bit,” he said, only half-joking. “But when it happened, it was really hard for me; my mind was struggling.”

What got him through was returning his focus to those small successes.

Marcin Tybura golpeia Alexandr Romanov no UFC 278 em agosto de 2022 (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Marcin Tybura of Poland punches Alexandr Romanov of Moldova in a heavyweight fight during the UFC 278 event at Vivint Arena on August 20, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“The small successes are a big thing for me. I’ve learned to live in the present as much as possible. After the loss to Tom, the things I’ve been able to do for myself is appreciate what I’ve achieved in the sport.”

Included amongst those accomplishments are a lengthy stay in the Top 15 in the heavyweight division, seven wins in his last nine appearances, and a 4-0 mark in Las Vegas, where he faces off with Tai Tuivasa on Saturday night.

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“It’s something I base my daily routine on,” continued Tybura, who made his promotional debut nearly nine years ago. “Live day-by-day and be happy for what happens every day, not just about winning a fight, being in the main event, being in the Top 10. Being in the present is a big thing for me. I read a book by Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, so that’s something I’m trying to do.

“Having the mindset about getting the gold one day is something I think every fighter should have if they want to be competitive in MMA, but you still need to focus on the small things, too.”

And that doesn’t apply exclusively to career elements either, as Tybura puts a premium on his time away from the gym and recharging in nature with his wife and their two dogs, as well

Marcin Tybura of Poland punches Greg Hardy in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

“They are really cute little guys; we have two of them,” the heavyweight said of the family corgis. “They’re really funny and give us lots of joy in life — how they play with each other, how they struggle in life a little bit because of their short legs and big body.

“I enjoy nature, in general. That’s somewhere I go to relax, to calm myself because when you go to the gym every day, there is always someone there that wants to kick your a**. Preparing for a fight, training is a lot of stress, it’s always on your mind.

“I grew up on a farm — I actually own a small one — so I think that’s in my nature: to go there, spend time there,” added the 38-year-old. “The mountains aren’t too far away from where I live, so me and my wife go there. Last year we got a camper van — a small one, but fits us and the two small dogs — so every time we have time, we are trying to spend time somewhere and the mountains are the obvious choice, in the winter especially.”

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This week, he’s traded winter in his native Poland for the desert climes of Las Vegas, which was starting to feel like a second home to the heavyweight mainstay until the COVID-19 pandemic made getting to the destination training outpost impossible.

“I remember the first time I came to Vegas, that was something I really liked about this place: it’s completely different than my country, so I enjoyed spending time there,” said Tybura, whose hometown of Uniejów had a population south of 3,000 residents in 2020. “The weather was nice. It was this place I knew from the movies, so that was a big trip for me the first time I came to Vegas.

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“It has been a little bit my home — I’ve spent a couple of months there, I guess. I’ve done preparation there, and I always see it as the capital of fighting; the experience of fighting there is great. You just feel the atmosphere of the fight there.”

While initially frustrated by his inability to return to Vegas and continue training with John Wood and the team at Syndicate MMA, being forced to find a new gym at home turned into a blessing in disguise for Tybura, who has been working with the teams at Ankos MMA and Aligatores Fight Club in advance of this weekend’s return to the Octagon.

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“I chose one in Poland and it was perfect for me,” explained the veteran. “It was coincidence, but it was perfect. My coach now and the gym, we’re really good for each other; we match well.”

He paused momentarily, thinking about the fortunate forcing of his hand and how it has all worked out in a positive fashion.

“Sometimes, if you don’t give up, there are opportunities that will come; it’s as simple as that.”

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - AUGUST 06:   (L-R) Marcin Tybura of Poland celebrates his knockout victory over Viktor Pesta of the Czech Republic  in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Vivint Smart Home Arena on August 6, 2016 in Salt Lake C
Tybura celebrates his knockout victory over Viktor Pesta of the Czech Republic in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Vivint Smart Home Arena on August 6, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Another one of those opportunities and small successes to appreciate comes this weekend in another headlining clash, this time against Tuivasa, who enters on a three-fight slide and positioned one spot ahead of Tybura in the heavyweight rankings.

The charismatic big man from West Sydney’s entire UFC career to date has been made up of runs — three wins and three losses, followed by a five-fight winning streak that carried him to the brink of contention before consecutive stoppage losses to Ciryl Gane, Sergei Pavlovich, and Alexander Volkov have once again left “Bam Bam” looking to break out of a slump on Saturday.

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“I never want to go in someone else’s head, but the thing is: it goes both ways,” began Tybura when asked about Tuivasa’s current slide and the mindset that may accompany him to the Octagon this weekend. “There might be something in the back of his mind that ‘four losses and I might be gone,’ but, on the other hand, he can go really, really motivated for this one because he wants to stay in the UFC.

“I know Tai, I think he’s just enjoying fighting,” he added. “I don’t know what his ambitions are, but I don’t try to figure out what kind of mindset he will bring. I will do my best and do my job. I come from a loss that was really hard for me, so I’m just motivated like crazy.”

Marcin Tybura (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
(Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

With the disappointment of the loss to Aspinall behind him, but the sting still serving as prep fuel, Tybura knows he’ll need to be extra careful in the early stages of Saturday’s main event, but believes he’s the superior talent in every facet.

And, more than anything, he sees this weekend’s clash with the popular Australian being one that the fans are sure to enjoy.

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“I see the chance that Tai will try to finish as soon as possible, since that might be his biggest advantage there,” he said with a smile. “But my prediction would be that I’m being better at defending myself, better at every aspect. I want it to be an exciting fight for the fans, and I think Tai is the kind of partner to bring that exciting fight for the fans.

“I see myself as the winner; exciting fight and I will win.”

UFC Fight Night: Tuivasa vs Tybura took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 16, 2024. See the final Prelims and Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass