KSW 74 Preview; De Fries defends vs Prasel; Breese vs Janikowski

KSW will return to our screens from another new city on Saturday night. KSW 74 takes place at the Arena Ostrów in Ostrów Wielkopolski, a city about an hour and a half to the north east of Wrocław, Poland’s fourth largest city. There will be nine fights on the card, including one for an international KSW championship.

Phil De Fries (21-6) has dominated KSW since debuting in April 2018. The Englishman is the longest reigning champion in the promotion, racking up 6 successful title defences, including 5 finishes. Sunderland’s finest is dangerous in every aspect of the sport, a good wrestler who’s very heavy on top and competitive on the feet against top opposition. He wears you down, he tires you out and he’ll either get you by submission or TKO. Regular training partners include the UFC’s Paul Craig, Tom Aspinall and recent Dana White Contender Series contract winner Michael Parkin. Ricardo Prasel (13-3) is looking to be the next Heavyweight king. You can recognise him quite easily with his black, red and yellow coloured hair. The Brazilian now calls Germany his home. The 6ft 7in giant was on the books at Chelsea FC as a goalkeeper during the 09/10 season, showing what an athletic specimen he is. He had a baptism of fire against Michał Kita in his KSW debut. Kita was beating him black and blue for the first round, before Prasel showed his toughness, held on and launched the comeback of the year. In his sophomore appearance, he submitted ex-UFC Daniel Omielańczuk with an achilles lock. Before joining KSW, he appeared on Dana White Contender Series, coming up short to Don’Tale Mayes. This fight all comes down to if Prasel can force De Fries to make a mistake. De Fries is usually a blanket on the ground and doesn’t give opponents many opportunities in the standup. Prasel needs to catch him on the hop to bring home the strap.

Damian Janikowski (7-4) will be a sort of hometown hero. The crowd will be behind this Wrocław native. Nobody does hard work and excitement quite like Damiano. His name is forever enshrined on the wall of honour at the Polish Olympic Centre in Warsaw, having won the bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2012 London Olympics. Known for his big suplexes, he’s had a more conservative wrestling game recently with the aim of reserving cardio. That conservatism doesn’t apply to his stand up game where he’s a blood and thunder warrior. The 33 year olds throws fight-ending shots on the regular, winning six fights within the distance. Tom Breese (14-3) will stand opposite him on the night. The 30 year old Englishman is Levels Fight League’s middleweight champion. Training out of Team Renegade in Birmingham, he is one of the best BJJ black belts in Europe and his box of tricks is vast. On the feet, he packs a punch, best evidenced by his KO win over Cathal Pendred at UFC Dublin in 2015. These lads are two of the most exciting fighters in Europe and this is a fascinating matchup.

Darko Stošić (16-5) is looking to get back on the horse after losing a title fight to De Fries at KSW 67 in February. The Serbian is all about big actions, particularly loving big slams followed by big ground and pound. Every shot is locked and loaded with the intention of ending the fight. You’re not going to get a huge volume out of him. A former foe awaits in Michał Kita (21-14-1). The pair met at KSW 61, where Stošić won by first round knockout. Kita is a Polish veteran who made his debut in 2006. The 42 year old Zabrze man has a strong wrestling base with knockout power. He’ll likely need to put Stošić on his back to avoid a repeat of the first fight, as the Serbian will be aiming for lightning to strike twice.

A very interesting middleweight fight is on deck for Saturday night. Cezary Kęsik (13-2) is a high level athlete who has gone 3-2 in KSW to date, with his only losses to current UFC Abus Magomedov and ex-UFC Paweł Pawlak. The Polish Tank is a soldier by day and he has cardio for days. Inside the cage, he’s a lethal finisher. The Puławy man could put a horse to sleep with his power, with nine of his wins coming directly due to strikes. If anyone is going to love striking with him, it’s Tomasz Romanowski (16-8). The Berserker team member is moving up to middleweight after missing weight last time out against Andrzej Grzebyk, a fight he won by first round knockout. Back in the day, he was a BJJ artist, nowadays he prefers to box, earning two finishes in his last three. The fan favourite won KSW’s version of TUF, Tylko Jeden (Only One). These lads are likely to tear the house down in this one. Romanowski welcomes fire fights, can Kęsik do what Patrik Kincl did and stop him within the distance?

Paweł Polityło (7-3) is Ireland’s representative on the card as he trains out of SBG HQ in Inchicore. Before he made Dublin his home, he attended college in nearby Wrocław. The Kudowa-Zdrój man has had success in dominating fights by grappling on the cage. The Police Eagle is a competitive striker on the feet when the game plan requires it. He’ll face Werlleson Martins (16-5), a guy who came close to finishing bantamweight champion Sebastian Przybysz on his KSW debut. The Rio man is very tough and is a good all rounder. He’s got hammers for hands and has a great armbar and triangle game off his back. This fight comes down to whoever can get the game into their arena first. If Martins can keep off the fence, his finishing ability poses a huge threat.

A fight that was supposed to be in July is back on the running order on Saturday. Kacper Koziorzębski (8-4) is a good all rounder who has found a bit more success on the feet with a few knockouts. He’s 2-2 in KSW, with the losses due to a couple of holes in his game at the time. One of them was a susceptibility of leaving the neck free on takedown attempts and the other was not seeing a left high kick coming. Let’s see if he’s closed the gaps. Emil Meek (9-6) is the opponent. The Norwegian is an ex-UFC fighter making his promotional debut. He’s on a four fight skid at the moment, however don’t let that fool you. He’s a violent fighter with vicious striking and a nasty guillotine. The big question is can he get back to his violent best?

Anita Bekus (6-2) is the top ranked fighter in the KSW women’s rankings. She is a former fitness competitor and has won silver medals at European and World championships. Strength is her biggest asset and it can be seen best in her grappling game. The Bydgoszcz native is good at getting it to the ground and once it’s there, she won’t let you up. That power also translates on the feet, where she has decent boxing. Sofiia Bagishvili (6-1) is a newcomer and was originally meant to debut against Bekus in May before an injury scuppered those plans. The Georgian is a submission specialist who is particularly good at armbars and will also threaten with triangles. It will be difficult to get Bekus into her favourite areas, so this is an interesting matchup.

Wojciech Kazieczko (2-0) looked electric on his KSW debut in April, with a first round knockout of the night against Luboš Lesák in the very first round. A young pro, we haven’t seen an awful lot of him in the cage thus far. He’s dispatched both opponents to date within two minutes using his slick and damaging kickboxing. Back in his amateur days, he picked up a win via buggy choke. Eduard Demenko (3-2) has participated in boxing in the past and he loves being an active fighter. The Kharkiv man is solid standing up and has wrestling to back that up. He has an experience advantage which he’ll need to use against the young explosive Kazieczko.

A couple of new signings open the card. Borys Dzikowski (1-0) comes in from Strife MMA. His debut didn’t last long, winning via TKO after just over two minutes of the first round. The Rawicz man is tall at 6ft4in and is looking to complete a hat trick of wins in 2022 following wins at pro and amateur. Arkadiusz Mruk (debut) is a legit hometown fighter, training out of Rio Grappling in Ostrów Wielkopolski. He competed at light heavyweight at amateur level, moving down to middleweight to kick off his pro career. Mruk has competed on a Babilon MMA card in the past, so he had a taste of bigger shows. Dzikowski will be looking to make a statement early here.

KSW 74 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.