A Polish MMA fighter has reportedly been killed in Ukraine during efforts to fight against the ongoing Russian invasion of the Eastern European country.
In February, Russia began its pursuit of control in Ukraine, beginning a war that has since caused the continent’s largest refugee crisis since World War II and left thousands dead, including civilians.
Alongside its global coverage, the conflict has frequently been present in combat sports discussion. As well as the efforts of Jan Blachowicz and Maryna Moroz to bring light to the crisis, a number of Ukrainian fighters returned home, including Bellator champion Yaroslav Amosov and boxing greats Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko.
While those represent three of the bigger names to take up arms, a host of local fighters in Ukraine and neighboring countries have also risked their lives to help protect the nation. With that, casualties were likely, and Poland’s mixed martial arts community has taken a tragic hit.
According to reports, MMA fighter Tomasz Walentek was killed whilst fighting Russian forces having joined the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine, which has seen upwards of 20,000 foreign troops commit themselves to the fortification of the country.
“It is with great sadness that we received the information about the death of Tomek, who was a Polish volunteer fought in the international defense legion of Ukraine and died there,” Poland’s MMA Association announced on Twitter. “Tomek took part and won the Second MMA Championships organized in Gliwice. Rest in peace.”
Polish MMA Grieves Following Tragic Loss
Per a TVP World report, Walentek was killed during Russian artillery shelling of the Donbas region, where two Americans were also recently confirmed to have died by the U.S. State Department.
The conflict in Ukraine began just days after Russia officially recognized the Donbas region, which has long had parts controlled by pro-Russian separatists, as an independent republic, as well as the Luhansk region.
Since the reported death of Walentek, a host of fighters have paid their respects for the deceased fighter, including KSW veteran Łukasz Jurkowski, who simply wrote “Rest in peace, warrior…”