KSW 83: Colosseum 2 Preview, Biggest MMA Show of the Year

The Greatest Show is finally upon us. KSW are back at the PGE Stadion Narodowy for the biggest MMA show of the year and the second highest attended event in European MMA history. The stadium was built for the 2012 UEFA European Championships, where the venue held the semi finals amongst other games. Sitting on the right bank of the River Vistula, about ten minutes from the city’s old town and even less from Warsaw’s skyscraper-filled newer district, the arena can hold up to 58,500 spectators. On Saturday night, the warriors, the gladiators, the fighters (fighters fighters) will perform in front of a raucous crowd of over 50,000. They might not equal the first stadium show attendance of 57,000, however they will run that close. The simple fact is that no other MMA organisation is doing this at the moment. Eleven fights adorn the KSW 83 card, including three bouts for international KSW championships. This is a bucket list event and it truly is a must watch.

Mamed Khalidov (36-8-2) is perhaps the most underrated fighter in all of MMA history. Born in Chechnya and now calling Poland his home, the 42-year-old is a bona fide legend of this sport. A couple of UFC offers came across his desk, however none proved to be lucrative enough for him to make the move. The ultimate fan favourite headlined the first stadium show back in 2017, and very few names can put bums on seats like Mamed can. His run from 2010-2017 is as good as anyone’s in the sport, truly remarkable. You simply cannot begin to understand his impact until you see him live in the flesh. The man walks around with an aura, however he’s never forgotten where he’s come from and you’ll never see him ignoring his adoring fans. The legend status gets thrown around a lot nowadays, Khalidov is deserving of higher accolades than that.

Enter Saturday night. “The Cannibal” loves a fast start  where he can utilise some of his elite Taekwondo techniques to knock you flush. Not a one trick pony, the Pole has a beautiful submission ability, which can be seen in his evenly balanced finish ratio. A familiar foe awaits, someone he’s tied 1-1 with in MMA competition. Scott Askham (19-5) has persevered through incredibly tough times to get to this point. The Englishman dominated the first fight in Gliwice, utilising wrestling to nullify Khalidov’s striking prowess. Then COVID appeared and decided to shake things up a bit. The rematch was set for a small back room in the Hilton hotel in Łódź. The 35-year-old was unable to prepare his usual routine as he was unable to travel to ATT in Florida. It went wrong that night and Khalidov unleashed the switch kick from hell in front of the tiny crowd. Due to injuries, the Yorkshireman hasn’t fought since. The camp went a lot better this time around and he’ll want this fight to look like the first encounter between them. On the feet, Askham has an absolutely savage body kick that has incapacitated many an unlucky opponent. This is his biggest moment to date and he will be eager to grab it with both hands.

A KSW Lightweight Championship unification bout occurs in the co-main event. Marian Ziółkowski (25-8-1) is the heir to Mateusz Gamrot’s throne and in recent times has really come out of his shadow. The Pole used his long limbs very well in the submission game and has come on leaps and bounds with his striking. The champion has defended his belt three times to date and has used his full arsenal of skills in each of them. Perhaps the most impressive of the lot was his matchup against Sebastian Rajewski, a renowned striker in his own right. The 32-year-old was very crisp that night and will need more of the same here. Salahdine Parnasse (17-1) won the interim strap against the aforementioned Rajewski in November. The Frenchman is an absolute phenom. The only blemish on his record was a knockout via bicep against Daniel Torres. The 25-year-old’s foot movement belongs in the Louvre and he’s danced around everyone put in front of him so far. The Aubervilliers native is one of the world’s top talents and you cannot sleep on his Jiu Jitsu game. He uses his striking to open up the rear naked choke. Not the heaviest hitter, however he’s accurate and can set a high pace for twenty five minutes. This is elite.

Mariusz Pudzianowski (17-8) is a five-time World’s Strongest man and one of the most popular fighters on the card. The Pole holds the KSW record for most knockouts with twelve. Pudzian entered the company as a freak fighter, and he’ll leave it as a legend and well respected martial artist. His career highlight was a huge knockout win over Michał Materla. It will be interesting to see if he stands and trades in this one, he’s very good at using his power to hit big double legs and once he’s on top of you, there’s no shifting him. Artur Szpilka (2-0) is a former WBO title challenger in boxing and has competed against Deontay Wilder and Derek Chisora. It’ll come as no surprise that boxing is his major strength, although his wrestling defence certainly surprised a few people in his debut. When not in the cage, he can be seen walking his two beautiful dogs and wearing flashy suits.

When Roberto Soldić left KSW, he vacated his Middleweight and Welterweight titles. This Saturday, the Middleweight championship will find a new home. Paweł Pawlak (21-4-1) resembles the Hitman 47 video game character, and his performances in the cage do nothing to convince me that the game isn’t based on him. The Pole is a UFC veteran and was unlucky to receive his walking papers following a loss to Leon Edwards. Since then, he won a Babilon MMA title and has tortured the KSW Middleweight division. The 34-year-old is a great volume striker who keeps a high pace. Tough as old boots, he’s never been finished. Tomasz Romanowski (28-8) is at his most dangerous when he’s swinging his hammers at your dome in the first round. The Szczecin man was the winner of KSW’s TUF-like show, Tylko Jeden (Only One). Since then, he’s gone 9-1 in the promotion with three knockouts. This fan favourite began his pro career with a very slick BJJ game and his current style is a powerful boxing game. The perennial underdog just keeps getting it done and a win on Saturday night would be the icing on the cake of a career where he’s gotten every drop out of the orange.

Arkadiusz Wrzosek (2-0) is a man who lives, eats, breathes and sleeps fighting. The Warsaw man is best known as an elite, world class kickboxer, who has competed in Glory, including beating Badr Hari and was on course to repeat that in the rematch before crowd “difficulties” forced it to be abandoned. The 30-year-old has been a tour de force since switching to MMA. He’s packed more living into his two fights than most do in a career. The Pole has been dominant in both bouts, however had to battle through adversity of nearly being finished in each of them as well. Pure entertainment is guaranteed and he’ll have an army of fans backing him in the stadium. Bogdan Stoica (debut) also comes in with a kickboxing background. A veteran of the SuperKombat scene, The Bucharest Bad Boy has faced Israel Adesanya in the past. These big boys are going to put on a show.

Michał Materla (32-9) is the beating heart of KSW. The term legend gets thrown around a lot, however it fits Cipao like a glove. The Szczecin man laid waste to high level opponents throughout the years, such as Rousimar Palhares, Kendall Grove, Tomasz Drwal and Rodney Wallace. The 39-year-old holds the KSW appearance record with twenty-eight and sits second on the knockout list with eleven, just one behind Pudzian. The Pole is a high level BJJ player and is an absolute warrior on the feet. He’s only gone to a decision nine times and guarantees excitement every time. Radosław Paczuski (5-1) is going to have strong support in the stadium. The Uniq Fight Club man is a savage kickboxer, including winning the FEN title. The Pole has massive power, great technique and is tough as hell. Radek has been one of the brightest newcomers to come over in recent years. Make no mistake about it, this is his biggest test to date and he’ll be eager to take the scalp.

We’ve had the pleasure of watching Jakub Wikłacz (14-3-1) grow as a fighter over the last few years. The Bantamweight Champion makes his first defence of the crown he beat Sebastian Przybysz for on Saturday. The Olsztyn man is an elite BJJ player, with a submission for every occasion. He’s got nasty guillotines, triangles and much more. We’ve recently seen his striking game jump up levels. The 26-year-old has the world at his feet right now and may be looking to get his first knockout victory. Werlleson Martins (18-5) replaced an injured Zuriko Jojua and comes in hot after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against Patryk Surdyn in April. Danger lurks around every corner with this man, from the first second to the last. The Brazilian is never out of the fight. Versatility is his biggest strength and he can submit you and knock you out in equal measure. The 27-year-old has had one chance at the belt already and gave Sebastian Przybysz a scare that night.

There’s another rematch on the card that featured one of the best lightweights in the promotion. Roman Szymański (17-6) is on a four-fight win streak and is back knocking on the door of a title shot. The Czerwony Smok man is a very good wrestler that marries it well with his heavy striking. The 30-year-old is entering his prime and hit a hat trick of finishes in his last three. He won the first fight due to retirement at the end of the first round. All signs are pointing up for the talented lightweight. Valeriu Mircea (28-8-1) is an all-action, blood and thunder warrior. This veteran has had thirty-seven fights, with only seven going to decision. The Moldovan trains out of Italy and has a wrestling and judo base, which he mixes with lights out power on the feet. He faces danger head on and will take chances to end the fight, sometimes to his detriment. He’ll be looking for that one-hitter-quitter to avenge his loss here.

The most under-the-radar scrap happens in the third fight. Daniel Rutkowski (15-3) simultaneously held the Babilon and FEN featherweight titles before joining the KSW ranks. Rutek was a Polish champion Greco-Roman wrestler, however it’s his striking that has captured the audience’s attention in his current run. Seven of his wins have come via knockout, including a brutal head kick KO win over Filip Pejić. The Radom man is durable, can keep a high pace and is one of the best personalities on show on Saturday. Adam Soldaev (7-1) attended the first Colosseum show as a fan, and now competes on the second one. The Warsaw man trains out of WCA, and is finally adding consistency to his game in regards to volume of fights. His striking is a joy to watch and he’ll tear you apart with counter shots. He has that “it” factor and is a star ready to break out. Soldaev’s power is a problem.

Maciej Kazieczko (9-2) is a very bright talent out of Ankos MMA in Poznań. The 29-year-old’s striking is intricate and the power is lethal. Six of his wins have come via knockout. The Pole’s KSW record is not to be sniffed at 8-2 and he’s won his last two. He is the owner of one of the most devastating KOs I’ve seen live in the flesh over Michael Dubois. Leo Brichta (10-3) is coming over the border to spoil the party. The Czech is an allrounder who has five knockout wins and four submissions. The Prague man hasn’t tasted defeat since 2019, winning six of the last seven, with the seventh being a no contest. This is a man who likes to finish things within the first round, however carries a threat throughout.

Krzysztof Głowacki (debut) is a former WBO cruiserweight champion in boxing. The Wałcz man will bring extra power in the small gloves here. Patryk Tołkaczewski (debut) was a GROMDA tournament winner in bare knuckle boxing. The Toruń man specialises in quick first round finishes. These big boys will kick off the show in what should be “blink and you’ll miss it” affair.

KSW 83 is live from 6pm Irish time on Saturday and access can be purchased at KSWTV.com or on the ViaPlay subscription service in select countries (including the U.K.).

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.

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