KSW 89 Preview; Bartośinski v Parnasse, Pawlak v Materla

KSW return for their annual end of year extravaganza in Gliwice this Saturday night. The PreZero Arena will be packed to the brim for KSW 89, which will host a talent filled ten fight card, including two for international KSW championships.

Salahdine Parnasse (18-1) comes into the Silesian city with a chance to make history. The 26-year-old is the current KSW featherweight and lightweight champion, and he’s stepping up to 170lbs to attempt to become the first man to win titles in three weight divisions. Put simply, the Frenchman is the greatest talent in European MMA and is taking on an enormous challenge here, as is reflected in the bookies’ odds classing him as an underdog. The Atch Academy man is an elite striker with some of the best footwork you’re likely to see in mixed martial arts. He likes to wear you down on the feet, and if he doesn’t break you there, he’ll lock in a submission to get the job done. Cardio is no issue, he’s the same from the first to the last second. Adrian Bartośinski (14-0) is the latest test, and he’s the reigning, defending KSW Welterweight Champion. The 28-year-old is making the first defence of his belt after beating Artur Szczepaniak to capture the gold. The Octopus, Łódź stallworth is the main training partner of MW champion Paweł Pawlak. Bartoś is a knockout machine with devastating power. He’s also a very good Jiu Jitsu player with solid submissions, however he hasn’t leaned on that much as a pro yet. The only real question mark will be the cardio as he’s never gone twenty-five minutes before. This is the best European fight of the year and is a must watch.

Paweł Pawlak (22-4-1) is another man making the first defence of his title. The Pole became the KSW Middleweight champion after beating Tommy Romanowski for the strap. The 34-year-old is a former UFC fighter, and was unlucky to get cut following defeats to Leon Edwards and Peter Sobotta. The Octopus, Łódź man is a sniper on the feet and he continuously marches down opponents like an assassin. In addition, he’s got good wrestling and submissions. Michał Materla (33-9) is the beating heart of KSW and a future hall of famer. The 39-year-old is a former champion at this weight, and comes in on a two-fight win streak, earning him the shot at his old belt. The Berserker from Szczecin is a warrior and loves a bloody brawl. Cipao is a high level Jiu Jitsu black belt. Materla is pure excitement and he’s never out of it until he’s unconscious.

Tomasz Romanowski (18-9) is a training partner of Materla. The 34-year-old is a former title contender and the winner of KSW’s version of The Ultimate Fighter, Tylko Jeden (Only One). Tommy is KSW’s version of Rocky, the ultimate underdog who upsets the odds to get the victory. The Berserker started out as a Jiu Jitsu player, however he’s fallen in love with his boxing and he possesses fight changing power. He will go through the fire without a second’s thought. Damian Janikowski (9-5) is another man with a warrior’s heart. The 34-year-old won bronze in Greco Roman wrestling at the 2012 London Olympics. The Wroclaw man has worked a lot on his striking through the years with Robert Jocz and Krzysztof Gutowski, and can be drawn into a wild brawl. He’s intense, known for big slams and threatening knockouts in the striking exchanges.

Marcin Held (28-9) is finally making his KSW debut on Saturday night. The Tychy man is one of Poland’s best BJJ black belts and has a very strong wrestling game to match. The 31-year-old is a former UFC and PFL veteran, and is competitive on the feet without a real fear of a knockout. Decisions are generally the way he goes, and he uses his toughness and durability to his advantage. Raul Tatarauli (32-7) is a born fighter and can hang in there in the toughest environments. The Georgian is mostly known for his powerful kickboxing game, however he’s a well rounded martial artist with strong grappling. Whether this goes fifteen seconds or fifteen minutes, the 31-year-old is dangerous.

Szymon Bajor (24-10) is a former PFL and Rizin fighter, and a recent unsuccessful heavyweight title contestant. The 35-year-old is a very well rounded competitor with big knockouts on his résumé. In the grappling, he’s very adept at using arm locks and armbars. Viktor Pešta (19-8) is a UFC and PFL veteran. The Czech is very good grappler with a specialty in rear naked chokes. The 33-year-old has eight knockouts on his record and a win here could earn him a title fight, perhaps even in the big arena in Prague.

Andrzej Grzybek (20-6) is a former two-time FEN champion and is back on form with a two-fight win streak under his belt. The 33-year-old is one those guys with the “it” factor, talks the talk and walks the walk. The Rzeszów man is a flashy kickboxer with many highlight reel knockouts amongst his twelve wins by that method. Madars Fleminas (12-4) is a new signing from Cage Warriors, where he beat many top European talents. The 35-year-old is most effective on the feet where he can use damaging strikes. The Latvian is a solid wrestler who uses toughness well, and makes it a very miserable fifteen minutes if you don’t get him off his game.

Sebastian Rajewski (12-8) returns from injury and is a former title challenger. The Czerwony Smok man is a Sanda specialist, and his footwork causes bewilderment in his opponents. The 31-year-old can hypnotise you for fifteen minutes. Since joining Red Dragon in Poznań, his wrestling has come on leaps and bounds. Wilson Varela (10-5) started out his career with a solid Jiu Jitsu base with plenty of submission finishes. The Marseille man has since developed a very good kickboxing game and added knockouts to the mix. The 28-year-old has impressive cardio and can push a pace over fifteen minutes. He’s one of many Frenchman on the roster pushing towards a Paris card.

Łukasz Charzewski (12-1) is another recent signing, coming in from FEN where he was their champion. Harry is a really tough competitor and usually dominates his way to a decision. Wherever this fight goes, the 31-year-old will be prepared and dangerous. Don’t completely discount his finishing capability as he’s more than capable of stopping people with strikes or submissions. Ahmed Vila (11-4-1) comes in from Oktagon. The Bosnian is a very strong grappler and submission specialist. The 27-year-old is on a four-fight win streak and possesses a large array of submissions in his arsenal.

Emilia Czerwińska (2-1) is looking to bounce back from her first MMA defeat. The 33-year-old has competed in pro boxing and kickboxing, including being a nine-time Polish champion and two-time World K-1 champion. The Pepe MMA competitor has a purple belt in BJJ to tack onto her high level striking. She trains with Karolina Sobek, which has given her solid wrestling that most kickboxing crossovers don’t have. Natalia Baczyńska-Krawiec (7-3) is a tough fighter who’s known to go to decisions. The 28-year-old does consistent damage with her solid boxing style. She’s going to try and push the pace and be a constant pain in her opponent’s side.

Wojciech Kaciecko (3-1) is an exciting young professional. The 26-year-old is a former pro kickboxer who followed in his older brother Maciej’s footsteps by switching to MMA. Another Pepe MMA fighter, he has a flashy style and a lot of pizazz in his game. He works levels well and he will smash the legs at every opportunity. Michał Domin (5-3) straps on the KSW gloves for the fifth time and the three losses on his record were to Patryk Kaczmarczyk, Robert Ruchała and Nikolay Grozdev which is an absolute murderer’s row, so no shame there. The 28-year-old is a very good allrounder who can finish on the feet and on the deck. The Pole is a finisher and always trying to push the action.

KSW 89 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 (including the U.K.).

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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