KSW 39 took place in Warsaw, Poland today at The PGE Narodowy Stadium. Shattering an attendance record set by UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia back in 2015, “Colosseum” turned into a huge event for the Polish promotion. Featuring five title fights and a champion vs. champion main event, plus the return of World’s Strongest Man winner Mariusz Pudzianowski, there was plenty of action promised from start to finish.
Also on the card, Polish rapper Popek, who suffered his second career loss at KSW 37 to Pudzianowski, and Pride/Bellator vet Sokoudjou. Former UFC star Norman Parke would appear as well, challenging Mateusz Gamrot for the KSW lightweight championship.
Opening the event (following a live guitarist being driven out to the cage in a jeep) was a battle for the inaugural women’s flyweight title. Ariane Lipski entered into some wild exchanges on the feet with Diana Belbita. Things eventually got to the ground, allowing Lipski to claim gold. While on bottom with guard looking for an arm or triangle, Lipski was able to latch on to an arm, swivel her hips to position her legs, and capture the victory via arm-bar just prior to the round ending. With that, Lipski becomes KSW’s first women’s flyweight champ!
In the second fight of the card, Polish Olympic wrestler Damian Janikowski made his professional MMA debut, and made short work of opponent Julio Gallegos. Janikowski, who won bronze at the 2012 Olympics in London, finished Gallegos with strikes in just over a minute. The end came with Janikowski raining blows from above onto Gallegos as the latter covered up.
A heavyweight bout between Michal Andryszak and Michal Kita followed, with Andryszak securing the win via anaconda choke. Kita actually initiated the takedown after taking damage on the feet, only to be trapped and choked out by his opponent.
The following bout saw Kleber Koike Erbst take home the victory with the KSW featherweight championship on he line, defeating Marcin Wrzosek via unanimous decision. Erbst spent much of the bout in control, and threatened submissions particularly in the third, but was unable to finish his opponent.
Mateusz Gamrot (c) v. Norman Parke
Following an intermission, former UFC fighter Norman Parke and Mateusz Gamrot battled for the promotion’s lightweight championship. The pair had engaged in a shoving match at the weigh-ins a day earlier.
The first round of Parke vs. Gamrot saw some solid action, with both fighters exchanging kicks. Parke in particular ate a stiff head kick, but soldiered through. In the second, Parke showed some solid defense with a good sprawl, but once taken down found himself in trouble, eating punches, and soon gave up his back. However, reminiscent of a skirmish between the fighters during weigh-ins, Parke shoved Gamrot while the ref had the pair separated, much to the displeasure of those in attendance. Upon replay it appeared Parke was unhappy with some attempted small joint manipulation and/or a possible finger bite by Gamrot that left Parke with an injured finger.
Once the action was re-started, Gamrot continued to shoot while Parke defended, and looked for a choke. Using the cage as leverage, Parke managed to tie up his opponent for quite some time but could not lock anything in. The crowd exploded once Gamrot managed to break, but after a brief exchange on the feet he again shot in unsuccessfully.
The third was much more active on the feet, with Parke putting on pressure while Gamrot circled out of range. Gamrot used his jab to keep Parke at bay, though he did attempt to shoot in, only to be denied, halfway through the round. They would finish trading on the feet before Gamrot appeared to try for a leg, but in the end it went to the judge’s scorecards. Gamrot would retain via unanimous decision.
Lukasz Jurkowski vs. Sokoudjou
Up next on the docket, Pride and Bellator MMA vet Sokoudjou faced Poland’s Lukasz Jurkowski. Sokoudjou ate a jab a minute in but was able to floor his opponent all the same. He managed to tie Jurkowski up against the fence as they clinched for a time, til the pair finally broke apart. A front kick later just missed by Sokoudjou. The remainder of the round was spent with the pair circling but failing to engage often, until Sokoudjou launched a spinning back kick towards round’s end that appeared to be a tad low as the bell rang.
In round two, Sokoudjou managed to mount then take the back of Jurkowski, landing some bombs from the top as the Polish fighter covered up. He would regain his feet only to be taken down again. The Pride vet would continue to control alongside the cage, and Jurkowski came away bloodied. Sokoudjou would miss a spinning backfist. Jurkowski would later answer back with a spinning back kick. With under a minute in round two remaining, Sokoudjou shot in and secured the take down, quickly passing into half guard and landing more shots.
The third round was contested primarily on the feet, and seemed much more even that the first two. Jurkowski was able to press the action, forcing Sokoudjou into defensive mode. Jurkowski managed to clip his opponent with just over a minute remaining in the fight, but ultimately the fight went to the judge’s scorecards. In the end, Jurkowski was awarded a split decision.
Tomasz Narkun (c) def. Marcin Wojcik
Light heavyweight champion Tomasz Narkun took on Marcin Wojcik next. A slow start featuring a feeling out process gave way to Wojcik briefly dropping the champ, but choosing not to engage on the ground. Narkun ate a number of blows with a smile, showing patience and selectively throwing leg kicks. Once the action went to the ground again, Wojcik found himself on top, but the strong guard and submission game of Narkun made the difference, as he was able to lock his legs around the neck and left arm of his opponent. Pulling down on Wojcik’s head, Narkun was able to force his opponent to tap out with just a second left in the round! With that, Narkun retained his light heavyweight championship within the first round.
Fernando Rodrigues Jr. (c) vs. Marcin Różalski
It was over before you could blink! Marcin Różalski was countering a Rodrigues attack when he connected with a short right hand, sending his opponent crashing to the canvas! And with that, Różalski captured the KSW heavyweight championship, within twenty seconds.
Paweł “Popek” Rak vs. Robert Burneika
In another short heavyweight (actually open weight) bout, Polish rapper Popek hurt his foe with a counter right early and followed him to the ground, scoring some ground and pound. Though Burneika popped back up, Popek dragged the bigger man back down to the ground and unleashed fury. The bloodied Robert Burneika had no answer, and the ref waved off the fight. Popek wins by TKO!
Mariusz Pudzianowski vs. Tyberiusz
A heavyweight showdown between a pair of strongmen served as the co-main event of KSW 39. Mariusz Pudzianowski (10-5) has been in the MMA game a while now, facing the likes of James Thompson, Bob Sapp, Oli Thompson, Peter Graham and others. Fellow strongman Tyberiusz Kowalczyk, meanwhile, has gone 3-0 in the sport since his debut in 2014.
In the first round, Pudz controlled the distance early with jabs and leg kicks, as Kowalczyk looked to counter. Pudzianowski caught a kick and nearly took the back of Kowalczyk but couldn’t hold on, and was warned for holding the fence. Kowalczyk threw a leg kick once action was back underway. A number of punches from Tyberiusz Kowalczyk just missed. Pudz then hurt his opponent with a kick and they started swinging wildly. Then went right into the spin cycle. Surprisingly, both men were still standing by the end of the round. Kowalczyk was switching stances by round’s end thanks to the solid leg kicks of Pudzianowski.
Round two saw a brief lull, then more action as Pudz was clipped, but countered and scored a knockdown. The former World’s Strongest Man then followed up on the ground trying to work from the back, then moved into the guard of Tyberiusz Kowalczyk. Pudz worked in body shots, as ref Mark Goddard warned them to keep working. Pudz tried to mount, got into half guard but couldn’t pass pass. Pudz looked for the choke, tried for the back then got back in guard, landing an elbow across the face of Tyberiusz that forced a tap. Pudz wins by submission to strikes.
Mamed Khalidov (c) vs. Borys Mańkowski (c)
In the main event of the evening, welterweight champion Borys Mańkowski met middleweight champ Mamed Khalidov at a catchweight of 181lbs in a champ vs. champ fight.
In the first, Khalidov looked to use kicks and his reach to control pace and distance. That forced Mańkowski to circle and search for a way in, at times launching kicks from the outside that at least once caused him to slip. An Axe kick by Khalidov connected but didn’t seem to phase Mańkowski. That move would be repeated by Khalidov later in the round. The middleweight champ appeared to take round one.
Khalidov opened the second round with a push kick, and later landed a spinning back kick. Mańkowski struggled to find an opening, and once Khalidov went to the mat in an open guard, Mańkowski declined an invitation to follow. Mańkowski was again forced to settle for throwing leg kicks from the outside. An upper cut and left hook combo from Kalidov about halfway through the round connected, but Mańkowski was able to answer back and hurt Khalidov for the first time in the fight. He survived the scare, but towards the end of the round tried a flying knee but was caught with a counter. Definitely a better round for Mańkowski.
Mańkowski opened the third round swinging hard, utilizing some looping hooks. He began putting the pressure on in the early moments of the round. For perhaps the first time in the fight, he also managed to work his way inside. Khalidov answered with a hard leg kick. Khalidov then shot in looking for the take down, but Mańkowski was able to defend and reverse position against the cage. Khalidov then worked in a trip but found himself rolling away in trouble. He smartly threw another knee coming out of the roll, but Mańkowski continued to come on strong. Khalidov shot in and secured the takedown with less than a minute in, and that could easily have swayed the round in his favor. Mańkowski utilized a rubber guard to keep Khalidov at bay. That took them to the bell! Ultimately the judges awarded a unanimous decision to Mamed Khalidov.
Mamed Khalidov (c) def. Borys Mańkowski (c) by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Champion vs. Champion
Mariusz Pudzianowski def. Tyberiusz Kowalczyk by submission (strikes), Round 2, 2:50
Paweł “Popek” Rak def. Robert Burneika by TKO, Round 1, 0:45
Marcin Różalski def. Fernando Rodrigues Jr. by KO, Round 1, 0:16 For the KSW Heavyweight Championship
Tomasz Narkun def. Marcin Wojcik via submission (triangle choke), Round 1, 4:59 For the KSW Light Heavyweight Championship
Lukasz Jurkowski def. Sokoudjou by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Mateusz Gamrot (c) def. Norman Parke via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) For the KSW Lightweight Championship
Kleber Koike Erbst def. Marcin Wrzosek via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28) For the KSW Featherweight Championship
Michal Andryszak def. Michal Kita via submission (Anaconda choke), Round 1, 1:14
Damian Janikowski def. Julio Gallegos via TKO (punches), Round 1, 1:26
Ariane Lipski def. Diana Belbita via submission (armbar), Round 1, 4:47 For the inaugural KSW Women’s Flyweight Championship