Over the course of the last year, the TKO heavyweight division has been dominated by one man: Adam “Kung Fu Panda” Dyczka (6-0-0, 6 KO). The former football player from Granby, Quebec has literally decimated everyone in his path. From amateur standouts like Emmanuel Vallée and Bobby Sullivan to veterans like Jarred Henderson and Ricardeau François, all of them fell victim to Dyczka.
With December 8 fast approaching and the promotion’s intent on holding as many championship fights as possible, the question arose as to whether a challenger could even be found for the man who was TKO’s undisputed #1 heavyweight.
Enter Bakary Sakho (1-0-0, 1 KO), an undefeated kickboxer who was looking to make the transition to mixed martial arts. Sakho caught the attention of TKO management when a video surfaced of him scoring a spectacular head kick KO over a tough opponent in the Maritimes. As a matter of fact, what Sakho brings to the table is leg speed and explosiveness at a level rarely seen, if ever, in professional mixed martial arts.
Sakho’s charismatic personality made him standout as well. The first time he ever stepped into a TKO cage was not to fight but rather to challenge Dyczka after the latter’s victory over François last September, going so far as to state that the road to the title went through him, and not the other way around, a comment that left the Kung Fu Panda quite upset. “I was surprised to see him in the octagon because no one knew who he was” recalled Dyczka. “And then to proclaim himself the man to beat…”
The hype train was very much on the tracks at that point but many questioned whether Sakho could live up to it. It was in October that he made his professional mixed martial arts debut as part of an ACB event held in Montreal where he showed the he could not only talk the talk but also walk the walk, scoring a first round knockout over veteran Blake Nash with yet another spectacular high kick. A keen observer on that night was Dyczka himself who had a front row seat to watch his future foe in action. Despite the quick result, “Kung Fu Panda” was confident he’d seen everything he needed to: “He did well but I spotted his weaknesses” he noted.
Sakho is unique in many ways and feels he has veteran poise despite having to step into the Bell Centre in front of thousands of fans and a worldwide audience in only his second professional fight. “I’m very happy to have reached this level, it’s always been my dream” said Sakho. “Adam is apparently the best heavyweight out there and I want to fight the best. But it’s very easy to beat “Tim Bits”, it will be very different against a real fighter like myself…”
As noted, Sakho, aka “The Black Panther”, has brought out a side of Dyczka fans had yet to see as he has not hesitated to poke the bear so to speak, at every turn, whether at a press conference or via social media. “He’s the first opponent I’ve had that has acted this way but I’m not falling for it. I’ve always believed in and acted with calm, poise, respect and honor like a martial artist should” said Dyczka.
“He’s the big favorite and I’m the underdog but trust me, I’m going to surprise everyone” predicted Sakho when asked about his upcoming title fight. “I have evolved a lot and am very proud of the work my team and I have done. This will be the best but the quickest fight of the night.”
This confrontation has peaked TKO fans’ interest as they wonder who will come out on top. Will it be the quick kick or the powerful punch? The motor mouth or the gentle giant? The panther or the panda? We’ll all find out on Friday, December 8 at TKO 41: Champions. Tickets on sale now at www.evenko.ca or by phone at (514) 790-2525.
– Story by Patrick Lono, TKO MMA