KSW 72 Preview; Romanowski vs Grzebyk, Kaczmarczyk vs Śmiełowski

The KSW crew will bring their cage to Kielce for the first time ever with KSW 72 on Saturday night. Kielce is located in central Poland, roughly halfway between Warsaw and Kraków. The event takes place outdoors in the Kadzielnia Amphitheater, a venue that can hold approximately 5000 spectators. The weather forecast is currently a toasty 31 degrees Celsius. There are nine fights on deck, all scheduled for 3 five minute rounds.

The main event of the evening sees two ranked welterweights do battle. #2 WW Tomasz Romanowski (15-8) trains out of the Berserker Team in Szczecin and he is one of the most popular fighters on the roster. He won KSW’s version of The Ultimate Fighter, Tylko Jeden (translates to Only One). He won three fights on the bounce on the show to earn his spot on the roster. Tommy is a warrior in every sense of the word. He will stand and trade with anyone. His boxing is slick and has good BJJ should he need to use it (although he rarely does). He has won three big fights under the KSW banner and a win on Saturday puts him right in title contention. In the blue corner is #5 WW Andrzej Grzebyk (18-5). He fights out of Tarnów and is a man that has an aura around him. Everything it takes to be a star, he has it in spades. He can talk, he dresses well, he has the confidence and he has the skills. His kickboxing is delightful and carries a huge knockout threat, which he used to win both the WW and MW FEN title belts. He’s likely a couple of wins away from KSW title contention with his 2-2 record, this is the first step back towards that conversation. These two guys are going to stand and strike. Grzebyk will likely have the better footwork and has a few more dimensions in his attack, however Romanowski is as tough as all hell and won’t go down without a fight. Excitement is on the menu.

We get a glimpse of the future in the co-main event, with a pair of hot prospects facing off early in their careers. The undefeated #5 FW Dawid Śmiełowski (9-0) picked up a nice TKO win in his KSW debut against veteran Filip Pejić. He competes out of Ankos MMA in Poznań, where he trains with some of the country’s top talents. He goes by the nickname “Królik” which translates to rabbit. He is a finisher wherever the fight goes and is a particular threat on the feet. His movement is fantastic. He’ll throw head kicks, flying knees and has the precision, the accuracy and the power to put you on your arse looking at the ceiling. He’ll face off against the “Prince of Radom” Patryk Kaczmarczyk. He’s a member of Radomski Klub Taekwon-do, however don’t let the club name fool you, he can grapple his butt off. He’s another man who acts like a star, talks like a star and dresses like a star. He was a champion in Armia Fight Night before making the switch to KSW. The only blemish on his record was a close decision loss to the talented Robert Ruchała. There is a height difference between the two fighters, with Śmiełowski being four inches taller. Kaczmarczyk hasn’t shown to have the same power as his opponent and I think it isn’t wise to stand in the trenches with him. I can see Patryk using his striking to get to the grappling and trying to dominate from there. We’re all the same size lying down. This should be an electric contest between future contenders.

A late addition to the card sees the return of #4 WW Michał Pietrzak (10-5-1). He’s another Ankos MMA talent on this card. He’s a wrestler who can stand and bang. Always looking to take on the toughest challenge possible, he’s only come up short against top names such as Roberto Soldić and Tommy Romanowski. His finishes have been a mix of TKOs and submissions. He’s durable with good stamina and stays in the fight until the end of the fight. He takes on promotional debutant Brian Hooi (17-8). The Netherland’s Hooi is a veteran of several top promotions such as UAE Warriors, Brave CF and Bellator. He’s a man of many talents and is very exciting from a viewing perspective. His dynamic kickboxing gives him a knockout threat and he’s dangerous in every position in grappling exchanges. He’s dangerous off his back and will throw up triangles, he’ll go for guillotines off takedowns and he has a decent armbar. This should be a fun fight.

There’s a women’s fight with potential title ramifications. #3 Sara Luzar Smajić (4-1) has won her first two KSW bouts by decision. The Croatian is a boxer who will walk down and throw shots for fifteen minutes straight. She doesn’t mind taking a shot to give one. Her last win was a close one against Natalia Baczyńska, a fighter who came in with way more experience. That will give Sara a sense of confidence coming into this one. She trains out of UFD Gym in Düsseldorf, one of Europe’s best. A win here possibly sets her up for a title shot. She’ll need to get through Emilia Czerwińska (1-0) first though, and that’s no easy feat. The undefeated Pole is a champion kickboxer and has competed in pro boxing. She won her KSW debut by TKO against Weronika Eszer. The stakes are not as high for Czerwińska, however a win should get her a ranking spot. I expect this to start out as a war on the feet. Should Emilia have the better of it, I’d expect Sara to switch to Plan B and work in some grappling. Neither is one to show any fear so it should prove to be interesting.

Emil Weber Meek (9-6) is making his KSW debut on Saturday. He’s a former UFC and Ares fighter. In his spare time, he’s the singer in a heavy metal band. The Norwegian has had trouble of late, losing four on the bounce, albeit against very, very tough opposition (including Kamaru Usman, Bartosz Fabiński and Jake Matthews). The Trondheim man likes to fight like a savage Viking and isn’t shy to throw his heavy shots. He can grapple as well. Standing opposite him will be Kacper Koziorzębski (8-4), a four fight KSW veteran. The Wrocław resident won last time out via decision against Hubert Szymajda. He’s built more for a fifteen minute battle than big knockouts or submissions, however don’t underestimate his punches or his elbows as they’ll do damage. A war of attrition likely awaits us here.

Oumar Sy (6-0) is a hot Light Heavyweight prospect plying his trade at the top of the Euro scene. He’s got wins at KSW, Ares and Oktagon. In general, the Frenchman is a finisher. He’s got big shots on the feet, he’s got takedowns in his arsenal, he’s got heavy ground and pound. If the strikes don’t get you, he’ll take your back and choke you. His progression has been steady and he’s looking to continue to build his reputation in Kielce. There was a last minute change of opponent with Bartłomiej Gładkowicz (8-2) stepping in on six days’ notice. He’s an exciting fighter that’s been plying his trade on the local scene with Babilon recently. He will likely have a size disadvantage here as he’s a natural middleweight. Training out of Octopus Łódź, he’s a well rounded fighter who’s good in a scramble and hits hard on the feet. Sy is by far his toughest test to date.

There’s a fun bantamweight fight early in the night. Patryk Surdyn (6-2) got his first KSW win in his last fight against David Martinik via decision. The Łomża man has found a lot of success in grappling in his career. He’s had victories via triangle and rear naked chokes. He has a TKO win via elbows against Sylwester Miller, which is a big scalp. A newcomer awaits in Gustavo Oliveira (8-1). The Portuguese is trouble wherever this fight goes. He’s got knockout power on the feet and is dangerous in scrambles. Surdyn is likely going to look to control this with wrestling.

Hubert Szymajda (9-5) is looking for third time lucky in the amphitheater. The Biała Podlaska man has lost in both his KSW appearances to date. They were against tough opponents in Shamil Musaev and Kacper Koziorzębski. He’s a dangerous grappler with a knack at taking the back and sinking in a choke. He’ll take on the man with potentially the best hair in KSW, Yann Liasse (7-1). The Luxembourger had a nice decision win against Oskar Szczepaniak in his KSW debut and has won once since elsewhere. Like his opponent, his main threat is on the deck and his biggest weapon is the rear naked choke. He may try some flashy spins or flying attacks on the feet. We’ll hopefully see some fun scrambles here.

The men in charge with kicking us off are Arkadiusz Kaszuba (3-1) and Robert Maciejowski (5-4-1). Rzeszów’s Kaszuba came through the EFM Show and impressed with his kickboxing. He got TKO victories with a body kick and a spinning back fist. He came unstuck last time out in his KSW debut against Borys Borkowski, showing a gap in the grappling department and getting stuck in the crucifix. Bielsko-Biała’s Maciejowski is a Berserker team member who also hit a snag first time round in the promotion, losing a decision to Krystian Kaszubowski (albeit as a last minute replacement). His main threat is on the feet where he carries ridiculous power. This should be a bludgeoning striking affair.

KSW 72 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.

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.