KSW 53 Preview – Parke and Gamrot complete their trilogy

KSW returns for the first time since December this Saturday with KSW 53: Reborn. This event will be held in a Warsaw studio without a crowd due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In the main event, one of the biggest rivalries in European MMA history comes to a head for a third time. The undisputed KSW Lightweight Championship is on the line as Mateusz Gamrot (15-0) takes on interim champion Norman Parke (28-6-1). This is a rivalry that started out in front of 58,000 fans and will be settled without any fans in attendance. Gamrot won out at KSW 39, but not without controversy as he appeared to bite Parke during the contest. In the rematch at KSW 40 in Dublin, the fight was declared a no contest due to a Gamrot eye poke. This led to unsavoury scenes in the crowd and in the cage, as one of Gamrot’s cornermen landed a punch on Parke after the fight was called. Gamrot hasn’t stepped foot into the KSW cage since December 2018 due to a contract dispute. A win here will set him up for a UFC run. The time off may play a part as any ring rust will be punished by Parke. Norman sets a relentless pace from the first second to the last and is one of the toughest fighters Europe has ever produced. This fight is likely going to go all 25 minutes.

In the co-main event, Gamrot’s teammate Borys Mańkowski (20-8-1) and “The Polish Zombie” Marcin Wrzosek (14-6) battle it out in the lightweight division. This is another fight with bad blood, with Mańkowski and Wrzosek trading barbs in the lead up to the fight. Both men are known for their forward pressure and all action styles, this one is likely to be an all out war.

Also in the lightweight division, Artur Sowiński (20-11) faces off against Gracjan Szadziński (8-3). Katowice’s Sowiński will be looking to use his superior experience over power puncher Szadziński. This will be a battle of the old school and the new school and the longer the fight lasts, the more it will suit “Kornik” Sowiński.

UFC veteran Tomasz Drwal (21-5-1) returns to the KSW cage to square off against “Polish Wanderlei”  Łukasz Bieńkowski (5-3) in the middleweight division. It is unlikely that this one will see the final bell.

In the welterweight division, we have a battle between former Armia Fight Night WW Champion Tomasz Jakubiec (10-2) and former FEN WW & MW Champion Andrzej Grzebyk (16-3). Both men will be looking to make an impression in their KSW debuts and to begin their march towards Roberto Soldic. This will be one of the most anticipated matches on the card.

“Nitro” Filip Pejić (14-3-2) is stepping in on short notice to take on former title challenger Roman Szymański (12-5). This will be a high paced affair and could come down to how Pejić copes with the move up to lightweight. Szymański is a former featherweight himself and has recently notched up a win after moving up to lightweight. He will be looking to string a few more wins together to move up the rankings and into title contention.

Jakub Wikłacz (10-2-1) is another KSW debutant on the card. Welcoming him to the cage will be Sebastian Przybysz (6-2). The pair have fought before, with Wikłacz winning a decision under the ACB banner. Should history repeat itself, Wikłacz can put himself into pole position to take on champion Antun Račić.

Kamil Szymuszowski (17-6) opens the card and is looking to get his first KSW win since April 2017 at another studio show. Standing in his way is Michał Pietrzak (8-4), a man in search of his first KSW win. Pietrzak will be looking to rediscover his Babilon MMA form after a short notice loss to Roberto Soldic last time out.

You can tune into the event this Saturday, July 11th at 7pm Dublin time. The card is only available on PPV at a cost of €7 at kswtv.com.

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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