KSW 51: Croatia Recap and Review

KSW 51 review
Mariusz Pudzianowski attends the KSW 51 Media Day in Warsaw, Poland, on November 4, 2019. KSW 51 (MMA fights) which will take place in Zagreb, Croatia on 9th November. (Photo by Foto Olimpik/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On Saturday, November 09, 2019 KSW rolled out their first event ever in Croatia with KSW 51. The card had an array of decisions, submissions, and knockouts. KSW crowned their first bantamweight champion along with the main event showcasing two of Europe’s best heavyweights colliding. If you don’t have time to check out the full review now, make sure to click here to see the quick results.

KSW 51 Review

Three Close Decisions to Lead Off

Sebastian Przybysz vs Lemmy Krusic

Sebastian Przybysz (5-2) started off the night taking on veteran Lemmy Krusic (20-6.) Both fighters showcased their standup skills in this contest. Krusic opened up with a spinning back fist while Przybysz delivered a striking combo that floored Krusic. After a period of cage-grappling, Przybysz brought Krusic to the mat and kept control leading to the end of the round. Krusic continued his flashy striking with an attempted head kick which led to him slipping but was able to reacquire position. Przybysz looked to be getting the better of the striking exchanges before Krusic was able to string together a nice series of jab-cross combinations. The round ended after some more cage-grappling.

Przybysz led off the final frame of action with huge strikes. Krusic seemed to gas out during the final round and started to shoot in desperate takedown attempts, but Przybysz was able to easily sprawl to stop the attempts. As with the previous two rounds, Przybysz’s striking looked to be on point.

Prior to this matchup, three of his five victories came by way of KO/TKO. Przybysz had about a five-centimetre reach advantage and was using every bit of it by the third round. The round ended with Przybysz controlling the centre of the cage. When the judges’ decisions were read, Przybysz walked away with the unanimous decision win.

Ivica Truscek vs Krystian Kaszubowski

In a very unusual day-of fight change, Krystian Kaszubowski (7-1) had an opponent change the day of the event. His initial opponent, Aleksandar Rakas, pulled out due to a foot injury. The 70 plus fight veteran, Ivica Truscek (38-32), accepted the call for battle on extremely late notice. Truscek looked very impressive in the first round. He came out the gate landing a takedown on Krystian, who was able to return to his feet quickly. Ivan was doing a good job of using the “stick and move” technique moving in and out of action very well.

Krystian looked to take his opponent much more seriously in the second round landing a big jab-cross combo. The combo was followed by a big slam takedown. Due to inactivity, the referee stood up the fighters around the 3:15 mark. Truscek landed a few solid strikes before Krystian drove him down to his knees along the cage with a guillotine choke not secured. Krystian landed another takedown on Truscek but found himself in a guillotine choke. After breaking free Krystian eventually earned another takedown but ended up in a guillotine yet again.

The two exchanged strikes to start out the third round for about 90 seconds before Krystian secured a takedown. Krystian kept ground control for the majority of the round. When decision time came, Krystian edged by with a split decision victory.

Roman Szymanski vs Milos Janicic

Poland’s own, Roman Szymanski (11-5) took to the cage to welcome the Montenegro knockout specialist in Milos Janicic (11-2.) The first round started out slow, with Janicic picking his shots waiting for the opening for the knockout blow. With 20 seconds left, Szymanski landed a huge blow, dropping Janicic. Szymanski laid on the pressure but the bell rang, ending the first round.

Szymanski looked to carry over the momentum into round two, controlling the standout trades between the two strikers. Both fighters exchanged takedowns in this round with a bit more groundwork compared to round one. Janicic looked much more comfortable in this round.

The first 90 seconds of the third round saw the two fighters exchange strikes. Szymanski used great footwork and earning a takedown. Janicic worked his way to top position and landed some good body shots. Szymanski managed to pull Janicic in close to eliminate heavy damage. Both fighters ended up on their feet with about 10 seconds left to close out the contest. The two fighters put on an amazing contest but only one could win with The Polish native earning the unanimous decision victory.

First Knockout of the Night

Darwin Rodriguez vs Ivan Erslan

The light heavyweights were set for centre stage with AFL light heavyweight champion Darwin Rodriguez (9-4) taking on home town favourite and undefeated fighter, Ivan Erslan.

Erslan started the bout with a series of low kicks. One of the kicks spun Rodriguez around leading to Erslan being able to land a series of heavy strikes. With Rodriguez on the mat, Erslan landed a series of grounded strikes leading the referee to stop the bout in the first round.

The Possible Upset of the Night

Cezary Kesik vs Aleksandar Ilic

Due to the recent rise of Aleksandar Ilic (12-2), many would consider the “Joker” suffering a defeat to be an upset. The man looking to slow down the rise of Ilic was Cezary Kesik (9-0.) Both fighters were winners via KO in their last KSW outings with Ilic knocking out Polish Olympic medalist, Damian Janikowski with the question mark kick at KSW 47. Ilic began the contest working on the legs of Kesik with low kicks. Kesik attempted to get the fight to the mat but a nice job by Ilic kept the bout up. Kesik eventually got what he wanted and wrested Ilic to the ground. Though on the bottom, Ilic remained active throwing whatever shots he could. Once back to the feet, Kesik did a nice job tieing Ilic up on the cage, showing respect to the dangerous standup game of Ilic.

Ilic came out the gate with heavy strikes. On one of his kicks, Ilic had a light slip which allowed Kesik to shoot in for an easy takedown. Kesik kept a lot of pressure on Ilic and by the time the two fighters got back to their feet, Ilic looked noticeably tired. Sensing this, Kesik earned another takedown and worked his way to Ilic’s back. After locking in the body locks, Kesik locked in the rear naked choke to earn the victory over the “Joker” in round two.

Heavyweight Collide 

Oli Thompson vs Ante Delija

Serving as a late replacement, Oli Thompson (20-11) entered the KSW cage for the for the first time since 2015 to take on the debuting Croatian striker, Ante Delija (16-3.) After recently competing and earning victories in PFL and Rizin, a third win in a row at KSW would do a lot for Delija’s future with the organization. The veteran of 30 plus professional bouts, Thompson, has been active in 2019 with this being his fourth bout. Fighting all over the world, winning his first bout back in KSW since 2015 could catapult Thompson into the heavyweight limelight. Both fighters had everything on the line in this one.

Delija looked great in the first round throwing crisp, popping jabs. When on the mat, Delija kept top pressure on Thompson nearly ending the bout with a choke with about 60 seconds left. The round ended with Delija laying in shots on a turtled up Thompson. Delija kept the pressure up in round two and eventually scored a takedown. Delija launched heavy shots as he did in round one but the referee saw enough and called a stop to the action naming Delija the winner via TKO.

Two of the World’s Best Featherweights Battle

Daniel Torres vs Filip Pejic

In a battle of two top rated featherweights, Brazil’s Daniel Torres (8-4) looked to earn a victory over Croatia’s own Filip Pejic (14-2-2.) Torres entered the battle winning five of his last six while Pejic was riding a four-fight win streak, including a second round TKO at KSW 48.

The first round saw a lot of back and forth striking exchanges. Torres earned a takedown late in the round, probably aiding him in taking the round where Pejic may have been up a hair in the striking exchanges.

The second round saw more close back and forth striking exchanges. While on the mat, Torres was in the open guard position on his knees and Pejic launched a kick, connecting with Torres’ face. The referee stood up the fighters for the illegal kick but did not take a point away from Pejic. After the standup, Torres continued to look more and more comfortable in his striking.

Entering round three, Torres’ confidence was on the rise. He looked to take the striking exchanges with Pejic a bit easier than earlier in the bout. Near the end of the contest Torres thew a spinning back kick which floored Pejic momentarily, all but securing the victory. Pejic landed a good series of strikes with about 60 seconds left but it was too late by that point. When the decision came across, Torres was declared the winner via unanimous decision.

Inaugural Bantamweight Title Contest

Antun Racic vs Damian Stasiak 

With the rapid growth of the smaller weight divisions in KSW, it was finally time to crown the inaugural bantamweight champion. Undefeated in KSW with a 4-0 record, Antun Racic (23-8-1) was the perfect candidate and would be matched up with a UFC veteran, Damian Stasiak (11-6) with a similar dream of being the first champion.

The first round started out in favour of the UFC veteran. Stasiak got the matchup to the ground and took the back of Racic. Racic showed he was there for a fight and took top position on Stasiak for a while before returning the bout to the feet and pressing Stasiak on the cage to end the round.

Round two of a potential five saw Racic get Stasiak to the ground this time. Stasiak attempted a guillotine choke early but let it go pretty quick. After returning to the feet Racic laced together a nice series of striking combos. Stasiak began throwing low kicks, to the ankle of Racic. Racic shot in for another takedown, landing some solid groundwork to end the round.

Round three saw Racic start to pull away with the contest displaying his superior striking skills despite the reach disadvantage. After all of the solid takedowns, Stasiak looked to begin to get gassed out. With about 45 seconds left in the round, Racic locked in a rear-naked choke which was dangerously close to ending the bout.

Championship rounds began with Racic looking solid before an illegal knee from Stasiak busted open the bridge of the nose of Racic. With two minutes left, Racic landed another successful takedown to secure another round.

The final round saw Racic continue his dominance landing a shot that temporarily dropped Stasiak. Racic took his time and did not rush in, knowing the victory and title were in site. With about 15 seconds left Stasiak was able to get Racic in a choke but it was too little too late. Racic was announced as the organization’s first bantamweight champion, earning the title with five hard-fought rounds.

Co-Main Event with One of KSW’s All-Time Legends

Borys Mankowski vs Vaso Bakocevic

One of the greatest to ever compete in KSW, Borys Mankowski (19-8-1) was set to enter the cage to end his feud with the “Psychopath” of Montenegro with nearly 60 professional bouts, Vaso Bakocevic (39-18-1.) Bakocevic made comments about beating Mankowski because he wears glasses in a promo. Mankowski was more than ready in his return of comments, removing his glasses stating he was ready for the battle.

The beginning of the first round saw both fighters in the “feeling out” process looking for their foothold to take control. Halfway through the round, the matchup ended up on the mat with Mankowski taking Bakocevic’s back. With about 30 seconds left the bout returned to the feet. Mankowski was able to get Bakocevic back to the mat quickly and lock in an anaconda choke to secure the first-round submission victory.

Main Event of Heavyweights with Title Implications 

Erko Jun vs Mariusz Pudzianowski

The main event saw international superstar and undefeated KSW heavyweight, Erko Jun (3-0), take on a huge challenge in that of former World’s Strongest Man and 20 fight veteran, Mariusz Pudzianowski (12-7.) Jun had taken the MMA world by storm entering KSW with no professional experience and earning a 3-0 record, all three victories by way of finish. He was given no easy task in his next rung on the ladder to the top in the form of veteran Pudzianowski.

Pudzianowski controlled the first half of the first round by keeping pressure on Jun against the cage. Jun was able to reel off a few good strikes before being wrestled down by the stronger Pudzianowski. Pudzianowski attempted to posture up to rain down shots but Jun did a good job keeping Pudzianowski close to him.

Round two saw Pudzianowski wrap up Jun for another trip takedown. However, Jun ended up on top as the two fell and he landed a series of heavy strikes on Pudzianowski. The referee intervened and stopped the action to bring the fighters to their feet due to Jun grabbing the cage. Jun looked to find his groove in round two landing some strikes in the standup. Pudzianowski continued to use the success of his takedown game to bring the contest back to the mat.

Pudzianowski eventually got to top mount and rained down shots until the referee called the contest, naming Pudzianowski the winner via TKO.

 

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