The 10th edition of the Dubai Fitness Championships (DFC) – formerly known as the Dubai CrossFit Championship (DCC) from 2019-2021 – is fast approaching. Deciding not to issue a single invitation to 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 full breakdown of the men’s list that will be participating at the DFC from 2-4 December 2022, at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai, United Arab Emirates:
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The CrossFit Games/DFC Veterans
We’ll start with a trio of athletes with multiple top-10 CrossFit Games performances and impressive past performances at the DCC/DFC.
Brent Fikowski (Canada)
Brent Fikowski previously won the DCC in 2019 after an epic battle between himself, Pat Vellner, and Roman Khrennikov. It is probably the most impressive victory of Fikowski’s career, and he is the only previous champion in the men’s field.
Fikowski has seven CrossFit Games appearances to his name, including a second place in 2017 and a third place in 2021. After winning the Elfit CrossFit Championship in Egypt in November, he stayed in the Middle East, which travel and jet means delay shouldn’t be a factor for him. This adds to the likelihood of doing well in this competition.
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Lazar Đukić (Serbia)
The biggest threat to Fikowski is probably Lazar Đukić. Đukić finished second at the DCC last year to Khrennikov and fifth in the 2019 competition which Fikowski won. The big question for Đukić is how healthy he is coming off the ankle injury from the Texas Trail Race at the 2022 Rogue Invitational. Assuming Đukić has put in a good training block since then, he is among the favorites to possibly be crowned the champion of DFC 10.
Jonne Koski (Finland)
Jonne Koski has been one of the more under-the-radar artists over the past nine years. He is an incredible swimmer and has at times parlayed that success into an early lead at the Games. He has four top-10 Games finishes in his career, including a sixth-place finish in 2021.
Koski has finished sixth twice in Dubai, including the 2019 edition – 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 arrive in Dubai with a win on his mind.
The Serious Contenders
While they may be the favourites, there is no guarantee that any of the above three will take a podium position. The seven athletes below have a combined 11 individual CrossFit Games appearances and could make some serious noise at the DFC.
Khan Porter (Australia)
Khan Porter accounts for five of those 11 CrossFit Games appearances. However, his last live appearance as an individual was in 2018, when he finished 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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Giorgos Karavis (Greece)
Although 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 fared significantly better in most other competitions, such as the semi-finals (fourth at Strength in Depth (fourth at Strength in Depth) SiD) 2022), Sanctionals (fifth at SiD 2020), and at Dubai (seventh in 2021).
Luka Đukić (Serbia)
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 heading into the 2023 season. He was ninth in Dubai last year and looks set to do much better than that this time around.
Guillaume Briant (France) and Moritz Fiebig (Germany)
Guillaume Briant and Moritz Fiebig are coming off their first appearances at the 2022 CrossFit Games. Briant had an excellent rookie performance, finishing 26th, while Fiebig was slightly less impressive in 36th. Despite that, Fiebig had the best individual event of the two at the Games, finishing 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 semi-finals and use some of their experience from the Games to challenge for top-five finishes.
Simon Mantyla (Sweden) and Nikita Yundov (Belarus)
Simon Mantyla qualified for the 2019 Games and finished in the top 50, but hasn’t had many outstanding performances since then. However, his 10th place finish last season in Dubai 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.
Powerhouse Spanish rivals
The remaining athletes have no individual CrossFit Games experience, and most are relatively unknown. However, four of them are part of a growing Spanish contingency that has made a significant boom in recent years.
Fabian Beneito Selles (Spain)
Fabian Beneito Selles is probably the most recognizable name of these four, having come close (sixth in 2021 and eighth in 2022 at the semi-finals) to making the Games in the past two seasons. He has placed 17th at the DFC each of the past two years. Expect a better finish from him this time.
Aniol Ekai (Spain)
Aniol Ekai was a legitimate unknown until he took second place at the Madrid CrossFit Championship in September 2022. He finished 34th in the global 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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Damian Martinez Satorres (Spain)
There is very little information available on Damian Martinez Satorres except that Ekai beat him in Madrid (he was 20th out of a large field). We will learn a lot more about Marinez Satorres as he performs at the DFC this year.
Javier Gonzalez (Spain)
Like Martinez Satorres, Javier Gonzalez has little high-level competition experience on his resume. He was 24th in Europe at the 2021 quarterfinals and has five Open finishes of 300 or better, dating back to his first in 2017.
The men from Spain aren’t the only ones set for a breakout performance in Dubai. Here are four other young and/or largely unknown athletes to keep your eye on this year.
Luka Vunjak (Serbia)
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 – finished third on the extended test of that competition, and finished ninth on a nasty workout with lots of devil pushes (a move Dubai is known for). His other three finishes were not as strong, but at 23 he can prove that he has since narrowed the gap between strengths and weaknesses.
Victor Hoffer (France)
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 focused almost exclusively on strength and aerobic work to close the gap to his elite gymnastics skills. He is the youngest athlete in this field, and this is his first individual competition of this caliber.
Vladimir Sechin (Russian Federation)
Although little is known about Vladimir Sechin, he came away with an impressive victory at the 2022 Russian Championships of Functional Fitness.
[Related: 2022 Zelos Games Invitational Results]
Michal Wesolowski (Poland)
At 29 years old, Michal Wesolowski is not as young as the three men mentioned above, but he is 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 ventures into the individual field of high level competition and is ready to show people what he is capable of.
Two more names to know
The final two men in the field don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories, but they are worth paying attention to.
Alex Kotoulas (Greece)
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 training.
Kotoulas placed seventh in the semifinals and ninth in the Last Chance Qualifier the last two seasons. Although he has never qualified for the Games, he is fully capable of a solid finish at the DFC this year.
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Reggie Phase (UK)
Reggie Fasa has thrust himself into the conversation by winning the European quarter-finals in 2021. He has not parlayed that success into the direct competition domain. He has no DFC experience, but he has been in the field at Wodapalooza the past two seasons, finishing 18th in 2020 and 20th in 2022.
Fasa is skilled in barbell cycling, fast bodyweight movements, and has a win to his name on a rowing-exclusive workout at Wodapalooza. He can stand out in various events, but can he put together a well-rounded performance for the entire competition?
Looking ahead to the Dubai Fitness Championship
The men’s field in Dubai spans experience, past success and expectations. Many athletes have something to prove this year, and that type of motivation can create truly memorable performances. The DFC always leaves fans with some very inspiring performances – and you should expect nothing less this year.
Featured Image: @dxbfitnesschamp on Instagram