Oktawian Olejniczak details journey from cancer diagnosis to his Main Event return fight

Photo Credit: Bellator MMA

Since 2014, Oktawian Olejniczak was actively competing at least once a year. His outstanding amateur career earned him contracts with BAMMA, Brave CF, Bellator and, FEN. Unfortunately, in 2021 he had a different kind of fight on his hands.

In February of last year, Olejniczak’s world was turned on its head when he was diagnosed with cancer. A positive of the situation was that it was not spreading. The timing meant that they could start treatment early. Speaking with Severe MMA one year following his diagnosis, he detailed his journey, from being diagnosed to getting back to the cage.

“The diagnosis was about a year ago and it was devastating,” he began.

“It was tough but I knew I couldn’t fall apart because I had things to do. I had to keep myself active and keep those things on the ball. I had to do other tests, operations and stuff like that so I had to keep myself straight.”

“I had my first surgery a couple of days later, they took out the tumour and then a few weeks later I was in my first chemo session in the hospital. All the chemo took about three months, in and out of the hospital.”

“My blood results were good because my body was recovering fast from the chemotherapy, so all the doctors told me my body is recovering well.”

Olejniczak was upbeat throughout the conversation and explained that despite some bad days, he always kept thinking positive and he never had a doubt for a split second and always believed he would get through it.

“Not every day was brilliant, there were days that I would get up after chemo and I would get home and think I couldn’t take it any more and just wanted to get over it. There were some lows and some highs but we got through it in the end. Now we get to fight again in the Main Event.”

Following his chemo, his body was recovering well. However, doctors informed him that he required one more surgery.

“In May I had a post-chemo scan and the changes weren’t enough to be left and I had to go for another operation.”

“They had all that sorted in July and I had 12 weeks where I could do nothing because I had a support belt after the operation. In the meantime, I got all my results back and everything was good. The surgeons cleared everything, my blood tests came back to normal and I was cleared then.”

After making a full recovery, he made a long-awaited return to the mats to train and do what he loves.

“It was the start of October and I was back on the mat. That was pretty good.”

“To be honest, in between the chemo and the operation, I was training too” he laughs. “I was back to training, it was only like 3 or 4 times a week just to keep me going. Because I knew after my operation that I couldn’t train.”

The whirlwind of a year has brought him full circle. He is now back, fully healthy and gearing up for the Main Event bout at Contra MMA in Wroclaw, Poland against Jakub Boczek.

“This is my second Main Event in my pro career. My first was at Clan Wars in Belfast a couple of years back. I’m very excited about that, it’s a massive privilege for a fighter to be in the Main Event fight. It puts a little more pressure on it because you’re watching fights throughout the card and if there are some good performances, you think you must perform better. You think you must perform better than the other fights because people are counting you. So yeah it puts a bit more pressure but I love it, I love that pressure and I hope I perform up to the expectations of the crowd.”

He hopes to return to FEN following this fight after only getting to fight one fight of his contact with them.

“This year I’m hoping to get three fights at least, that was the same plan last year but my sickness ruined those plans. I’m coming back stronger this year and hoping to get three fights. This fight for Contra MMA is just a one-off fight because I’m signed to FEN and I’m hoping they extend my contract to the end of this year because of the sickness I had last year.”

Ahead of his fight, he has a whole new mindset after enduring a tough year and is excited to return to the cage.

“After last year, I have a different mindset now. I’m a stronger person than I was last year and the year before. After such a long lay off I’m a hungry fighter so I can’t wait to get in the cage.”

“I cannot wait to feel that excitement again, to feel the crowd and just get that feeling going again. It’s something that no drug in the world can give you. Hopefully, I’ll get my hand raised at the end of the fight, I missed that.”

“I can’t wait to perform, get my hand raised and get that fire back into me.”