The 10th edition of the Dubai Fitness Championships (DFC) — formerly known as the Dubai CrossFit Championship (DCC) from 2019-2021 — is fast approaching. With the decision not to extend a single invite for this year’s live competition, all 20 male and 20 female athletes earned their spots via the online qualifier earlier this fall.
Below is a complete breakdown of the men’s roster that will compete at the DFC from Dec. 2-4, 2022, at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai, United Arab Emirates:
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We’ll start with a trio of athletes with multiple top-10 CrossFit Games performances and impressive previous showings at the DCC/DFC.
Brent Fikowski previously won the DCC in 2019 after an epic battle between himself, Pat Vellner, and Roman Khrennikov. It’s arguably the most impressive win of Fikowski’s career, and he’s the only past champion in the men’s field.
Fikowski has seven CrossFit Games appearances to his name, including a second-place finish in 2017 and a third-place in 2021. After winning the Elfit CrossFit Championship in Egypt in November, he has stayed in the Middle East, which means travel and jet lag shouldn’t be a factor for him. This adds to the likelihood of doing well in this competition.
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The biggest threat to Fikowski is likely Lazar Đukić. Đukić finished second at the DCC last year to Khrennikov and fifth in the 2019 competition Fikowski won. The big question for Đukić is how healthy he is coming off the ankle injury from the Texas Trail run event at the 2022 Rogue Invitational. Assuming Đukić has put in a good training block since then, he is amongst the favorites to possibly be crowned the champion of DFC 10.
Jonne Koski has been one of the more under-the-radar performers over the last nine years. He is an incredible swimmer and leveraged that success into early leads at the Games at times. He has four top-10 Games finishes in his career, including a sixth-place finish in 2021.
Koski has ranked sixth twice in Dubai, including the 2019 version — one of the strongest off-season men’s fields ever. Koski has improved in every competition since having rotator cuff surgery in September 2021 and will show up in Dubai with a victory on his mind.
While they may be the favorites, there’s no guarantee that any above three will capture a podium position. The seven athletes below have a combined 11 individual CrossFit Games appearances and could make serious noise at the DFC.
Khan Porter accounts for five of those 11 CrossFit Games appearances. However, his last live appearance as an individual was in 2018, when he placed 24th. He’s a bit of a wildcard in terms of expectations after competing with Team CrossFit Reykjavik in 2022, but it’s safe to assume his fitness is up to snuff after spending the year training with Annie Thorisdottir and co.
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Though Giorgos Karavis is the only other in the group with multiple Games appearances (two), he finished 33rd in 2021 and 27th in 2022. However, he performed significantly better in most other competitions, such as the Semifinals (fourth at Strength in Depth (SiD) 2022), Sanctionals (fifth at SiD 2020), and at Dubai (seventh in 2021).
After failing to make the Games in 2022, Luka Đukić heads to this year’s DFC to prove he is a legitimate contender. Of all his competitions in 2022, Dubai is the one Đukić needs to gain momentum at heading into the 2023 season. He was ninth last year in Dubai and looks to do much better than that this time around.
Guillaume Briant and Moritz Fiebig are coming off their inaugural appearances at the 2022 CrossFit Games. Briant had an excellent rookie showing, taking 26th, while Fiebig was slightly less impressive at 36th place. Despite that, Fiebig had the best individual event finish of the two at the Games, taking ninth on Bike to Work.
Both athletes are 27 years old — the prime of their careers. They need to impress as they did at the Semifinals and use some of their experience from the Games to challenge for top-five finishes.
Simon Mantyla qualified for the 2019 Games and finished in the top 50 but hasn’t had many stand-out performances since then. However, his 10th-place finish in Dubai last season could set him up for another solid outing this year.
Nikita Yundov only qualified for the DFC after Ricky Garard withdrew. No matter how he got in, Yundov has the perfect chance to make his mark on the competition this year.
The remaining athletes have no individual CrossFit Games experience, and most are relatively unknown. However, four of them are a part of a growing Spanish contingency that has made a significant surge over the past few years.
Fabian Beneito Selles is likely the most recognizable name of these four, having come close (six in 2021 and eighth in 2022 at the Semifinals) to making the Games the past two seasons. He placed 17th each of the last two years at the DFC. Expect a better finish from him this time around.
Aniol Ekai was a legitimate unknown until taking second place at the Madrid CrossFit Championship in September 2022. He finished 34th in the worldwide Open in 2022, better than any other man in Spain. He beat a handful of other competitors in this field in Madrid, but those workouts were relatively short. It will be exciting to see how he performs in a different style of programming and competition with more elite athletes in the field.
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There is very little information about Damian Martinez Satorres available other than that Ekai beat him in Madrid (he was 20th out of a huge field). We’ll learn much more about Marinez Satorres as he steps up to the plate at the DFC this year.
Like Martinez Satorres, Javier Gonzalez has little high-level competition experience on his resume. He was 24th in Europe during the 2021 Quarterfinals and has five Open finishes of 300th or better, dating back to his first one in 2017.
The men from Spain are not the only ones primed for a breakout performance in Dubai. Here are four other young and/or generally unknown athletes to keep your eye on this year.
Luka Vunjak was impressive in half of the events at the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown. He won one of the six events — an interval-style workout — took third on the extended test from that competition, and placed ninth on a nasty workout with a lot of devil’s presses (a movement which Dubai is famous for). His other three finishes weren’t as strong, but at 23, he can prove that he’s narrowed the gap between strengths and weaknesses since then.
Victor Hoffer was also at the Lowlands Throwdown — only he competed on Team CrossFit Grillen. Hoffer has a massive background in gymnastics and should have a promising future in the sport. He’s been focusing almost exclusively on strength and aerobic work to close the gap to his elite gymnastics skills. He’s the youngest athlete in this field, and this is his first individual competition of this caliber.
Though little is known about Vladimir Sechin, he came away with an impressive win at the 2022 Russian Championships of Functional Fitness.
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At 29 years old, Michal Wesolowski isn’t as young as the three men mentioned above, but he’s still something of an unknown. He has four years of CrossFit experience and competed on a team with his mentor, Bronislaw Olenkowicz, at Wodapalooza last year. He’s venturing into the Individual field of high-level competition and is primed to show people what he’s capable of.
The last two men in the field don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories, but they are worth paying attention to.
This is Alex Kotoulas’ fourth consecutive time competing in Dubai (12th in 2018 and 2019, 11th in 2021), and he generally does well on aerobic and gymnastics-heavy workouts. However, he gives up ground in strength workouts.
Kotoulas placed seventh in the Semifinals and ninth in the Last Chance Qualifier in the last two seasons. Though he’s never qualified for the Games, he’s completely capable of netting a solid finish at the DFC this year.
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Reggie Fasa propelled himself into the conversation by winning the European Quarterfinals in 2021. He hasn’t leveraged that success into the live competition domain. He has no DFC experience, but he was in the field at Wodapalooza for the last two seasons, finishing 18th in 2020 and 20th in 2022.
Fasa is skilled at barbell cycling, fast bodyweight movements, and has a win to his name on a rowing-exclusive workout at Wodapalooza. He can stand out in several events, but can he put together a well-rounded showing for the entire competition?
The men’s field in Dubai runs the gamut regarding experience, prior success, and expectations. Plenty of athletes have something to prove this year, and that type of motivation can create truly memorable performances. The DFC always leaves fans with plenty of inspiring feats — and you should expect nothing less this year.
Featured Image: @dxbfitnesschamp on Instagram
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