Oktagon 54 Preview: Kincl v Wawryzyniak; Tipsport Gamechanger LW Tournament

Saturday night sees the start of a new Tipsport Gamechanger Tournament, the follow up to what was a huge gem in Oktagon’s 2023 schedule. Ostrava will see the lightweights begin their journey towards big cash prizes with some of the top names in Europe involved. €1 million worth of prize money is available. This is arguably the best 155lb tournament this year. Oktagon 54 will also host a title fight at the Ostravar Arena.

The main event will see a title unification bout in the middleweight division. Patrik Kincl (27-10) returns from a nasty broken orbital to prove he’s the king of the promotion. The Czech is a former KSW and ACB contender and beat the legendary Karlos Vémola last time out. The 34-year-old is a savage kickboxer with big power, who’s lethal on the inside and brutalises opponents with vicious elbows. He’s a serviceable grappler and is decent at submissions, however it’s 2018 since he won by one. Piotr Wawrzyniak (12-5) is the interim champion, an accolade he earned for stepping in for the injured Kincl against Vlasto Čepo last December. The Pole finished that fight via third round ground and pound and has looked magic on his current five-fight win streak. The 32-year-old is also the Babilon MMA champion and started his MMA journey as a judoka. The Czerwony Smok man is a very strong grappler who has added a knockout streak on his current run. He’s developing into his peak very well.

The Tipsport Gamechanger lightweight tournament will be one of the most exciting stories in this year’s European MMA schedule. Ronald Paradeiser (18-8) is the OKMMA 155lb champion and he’s putting his reputation on the line in search of glory and a huge payday. The Slovakian is one of the promotion’s biggest stars and picked up karate when he was younger. The 26-year-old has developed a lethal kickboxing game with explosive power along with solid wrestling. Attila Korkmaz (14-7) is the first man to take up the unenviable task of beating the champ. The German is a Bellator and ACA veteran. The 32-year-old scored a lovely head kick knockout on Davy Gallon in his last fight, however he mostly remains calm and works to a decision. His submissions aren’t bad either.

Makwan Amirkhani (17-9) is a UFC veteran and one of the biggest characters in the tournament. Mr. Finland is one of the fastest starters in the division and is famously known for his quick flying knee knockout of Andy Ogle on his UFC debut. The 35-year-old is more of a grappling whizz, with great BJJ. His downside is his cardio, so he’ll need to be very motivated to avoid this pitfall against tough opposition. Mohamed Machaev (13-1) is a young prospect who’s competed for XFN and Brave CF. The 24-year-old is a good striker who threatens throughout the fifteen minutes. The Austrian knows how to manage a decision and uses his grappling to keep the fight where he wants it to take place. He’ll be an underdog however he has the talent to go far in this tournament.

Vladimír Lengál (6-3) is one of the local fighters in the tournament. The Czech is an Oktagon regular and has also been a professional in boxing and kickboxing. This man is a knockout machine with vicious knees and punches. Daniel Torres (14-5) is a former KSW Lightweight champion, a title he won by knocking out Salahdine Parnasse. The Brazilian now represents Austria and is a Shotokan karate stylist. The 30-year-old is a technical striker with good footwork, with cardio to keep the pace up for the duration. He can manage a decision and he also has the power to finish.

Mateusz Legierski (10-1) is a former OKMMA Welterweight champion and one of the top Central European talents. The Pole started out as a powerful kickboxer who developed a great submission game. As the opposition has gotten stronger, he’s used his cage smarts to manage decision victories. Matouś Kohout (9-6) is an Oktagon and XFN veteran used to the big occasions. The Czech is also a professional kickboxer and half his MMA wins have come via knockout. He’s a ferocious competitor who doesn’t mind mixing it up for fifteen.

Mohamed Grabinski (23-9) competed in last year’s welterweight tournament, but was defeated early on. The German is a Brave CF veteran and competed on the first Conor McGregor season of TUF. The 32-year-old is a powerful kickboxer with stopping power. He’s got a big right hand, can keep the pace up and has decent grappling. Acoidan Duque (19-4) is looking to ride the wave of Spanish MMA by making a statement. He’s a Bellator and PFL veteran who’s got very good submissions, serviceable striking and he’s got experience of fighting high level fighters.

Akonne Wanliss (7-2) is another of the tournament’s great characters. A huge Star Wars fan, “J3di” is a Bellator veteran who’s got a well rounded game. Born in Jamaica and now lives in England, he trains out of Renegade in Birmingham with the Edwards brothers. He’s a powerful puncher, a strong wrestler and has a great choke game. I’d imagine he’ll like to take this one down to the mat. Sahil Siraj (9-2) is a KSW veteran training under ex-UFC Stallworth Reza Medadi. The 34-year-old was born in Afghanistan before emigrating. The Swede is a heavy hitting kickboxer who is a one-hitter quitter. Speed is everything and he’ll sprint out of the blocks.

Hafeni Nafuka (8-0) is one of the most intriguing fighters in the tournament. All the talent in the world, the question is if it is too much too soon. The Namibian of German nationality has proven to be one of the biggest prospects Oktagon has uncovered. The 20-year-old has shown strong grappling, great submissions and a big, powerful, well rounded game to date. Predrag Bogdanović (15-1) is another hot prospect who made a name for himself on his local scene. The Serb did step up to face a gigantic test at Titan FC against “Ill” Will Brooks, but came up short. He’s good with chokes, is very durable, never been defeated before the fourth round and has great cardio.

Radek Roušal (2-0) will compete in a non-tournament bout on the prelims. Known for walking out in a straight jacket, he’s great entertainment. The Czech has competed as a pro in all of the striking arts, and he loves a good dust up. The 28-year-old is a fierce competitor and will be blood and thunder for the duration. Luke Neale (3-1) is a newcomer who is looking to prove himself. The Englishman earned all his wins via knockouts, a couple on the feet and the third by ground and pound. This is the big leagues now though.

A tournament alternate bout will open the PPV portion of the card. Jason Ponet (24-16-1) is a One Championship and PFL veteran. The Frenchman is a solid all rounder who loves a finish. The 35-year-old has seven knockouts and five submission wins on his record. He does have a defensive submission skill gap, however this fight should remain standing. Łukasz Rajewski (12-9) is a KSW veteran. The Pole is a Sanda specialist who’s got great footwork and a knockout threat. The 34-year-old can equally employ a point fighting style to stroll to a decision if you allow him to. Since joining Czerwony Smok, he’s worked really hard on his wrestling.

As is tradition, we have a free YouTube bout to whet the appetite. Miloš Janičić (16-3) is a KSW veteran who’s just getting ready to go into his prime. The 26-year-old is a well rounded fighter on a five-fight win streak in MMA. The Montenegrin has eight wins by knockout and eight by submission. He doesn’t hang around and he doesn’t want to go to a decision. Ebrahim Hosseinpour (8-7) is in the twilight of his career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not up for a scrap. The German’s plan remains the same as it always has, he wants to knock you out. The 40-year-old is brave, takes risks and is no easy out.

Oktagon 54 is live from Ostrava on Saturday night from 17:00 Irish time on Channel 4, Oktagon.tv and DAZN.

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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