KSW is, by far, my favorite MMA organization. The pageantry, the world class talent, the amazing matchups. KSW has everything you could ask for in a dream organization. I am coming up on two years with MMA Sucka and from nearly the beginning of that time I have covered KSW. With literally 90 KSW articles written, there is no other task I would want from my MMA Sucka family than to be “the KSW guy.”
So What is KSW?
KSW (Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki) was founded in 2004 by Martin Lewandowski and Maciej Kawulski. The two met in 2002 when Lewandowski was the manager of a Marriott Hotel and Kawulski was organizing Poland’s biggest sports expo. Their mutual love for martial arts led to their masterpiece, KSW (which translated to English means Martial Arts Confrontation.) Several great UFC fighters have walked the KSW grounds such as Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Jan Blachowicz, and Alexander Gustafsson among many others.
The one fighter that made me a lifelong fan of KSW was Mamed Khalidov. The Chechen-born middleweight ruled the Polish (arguably the European) MMA scene beginning in the 2010’s. Debuting for the organization at KSW 7, Khalidov has competed in 23 of their events. Near 40 years old and KSW acquiring world class talent over the last few years, his last victory came at the organization’s biggest event, KSW 39. The event took place on May 27, 2017 in Warsaw, Poland with an attendance of 57,776. UFC’s largest attendance on record is from UFC 243: Whittaker vs Adesanya which tallied 57,127 in October 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
All the Pomp and Circumstance
No one in the world does it like KSW. Check out this KSW 39 weigh-in hightlight video as an example. You have the live band playing. You have a shoving contest between lightweight champion Mateusz Gamrot and challenger Norman Parke. There is even some shoving between the ungodly large Robert Burneika and Pawel “Popek” Rak. Popek is a Polish rapper covered in tattoos with even his eyeballs tatted. To add to the oddness, Popek has taken to “scarification.” A process where scars are intentionally carved into your face. Six of the 11 bouts on this card were for championships along with the main event (Khalidov vs Borys Mankowski) a champion vs champion bout.
Opening Ceremony and Presentation
If you grew up a fan of MMA in the Pride FC days, then KSW will help bring back some of that nostalgia. Prior to the start of the night’s action, all of the competitors are introduced on the ramp, “Pride style.” The light show is amazing while the gravel voice of KSW announcer and Polish rapper, Waldemar Kasta, takes center stage. I do not typically watch fights as a “fan” but more so to analyze to write an article, review, etc. It is easy for me to get lost in the cinematic quality trailers, the opening ceremony, and the overall presentation of the events. It brings me back to the original UFC days when I watched the events as a child, as a wide-eyed lost in the moment fan.
Hear From the Fighters of KSW
The fighters of KSW have been great friends to MMA Sucka. One of those in particular is KSW middleweight champion Scott Askham. Askham won a four-man tournament for the vacant title after Khalidov entered a brief retirement. After a stint in the UFC, Askham found his new home in KSW where he currently has a 4-0 record. “KSW are an amazing organization to fight for! Their production is the best in the world!” Askham told MMA Sucka. “My last fight I came to the cage in a super car. Tell me another show who does that? Check the walkout on my IGTV. In the future I hope they go back to the main arena in Warsaw (Colosseum 2.) This event had over 57,000 fans! To main event this, is my goal.”
If I could have any matchup for 2020, it would be a Askham champion vs champion bout vs light heavyweight champion Tomasz Narkun to headline a card similar to the 57,000+ fan KSW 39 card. Back in December 2019 Askham told us at MMA Sucka, “Let the fans talk. Rematch for the belt, go up and challenge for another belt, or defend my belt,” Askham said. “I will take any of them but if I had a choice I think I would like to challenge for the light heavyweight belt. More and more I think about it, it makes sense. Double champ sounds good! I think this is the biggest fight for me right now.”
Another fighter that is a must see in this promotion is the newly crowned inaugural bantamweight champion, Antun Racic. In November 2019 (KSW 51,) KSW declared the matchup between Racic and tough opponent Damian Stasiak a majority decision in favor of Racic to improve to 5-0 in KSW. Racic is a hard-nosed, grinding fighter who would give any world-class bantamweight a tough going. “KSW is a great organization with the best show in the sport. I’m happy that I’m champion in an organization like KSW and I can’t wait to fight again there,” Racic told MMA Sucka. “KSW in the future will continue with great shows and great fights.”
MMA Sucka has spoken to many up and coming stars over the years and Salahdine Parnasse is one of those to watch. Parnasse is currently 5-0 in the organization and serves as KSW’s interim featherweight champion. I was fortunate enough to talk to the French phenom in May 2018 when he was just 2-0 in the organization- he hoped to one day become champion. Parnasse’s vision came true when he took an unanimous decision over veteran Ivan Buchinger in December 2019. Parnasse told MMA Sucka, “I feel good in this organization! It really is great and I see myself staying in this magnificent organization of KSW,” Parnasse stated.
Another one of those really great guys at KSW that makes it a fun organization to write on is heavyweight phenom Erko Jun. Jun is a former fitness model who decided to enter the world of MMA. His highly anticipated debut came at KSW 44 in June 2018 where he won via first round TKO. He currently stands at 3-1 in the promotion and is getting better and more comfortable as each fight passes. There is no doubt Jun will be a worldwide star within a few years.
“It’s a really sad thing with the Coronavirus. KSW had big things set. I was set to fight in March in a big event in Poland,” Jun told MMA Sucka. Jun was a two week notice replacement for main event, former World’s Strongest Man, Mariusz Pudzianowski, at KSW 53, the event recently cancelled. “The stadiums are always packed and the production is crazy. When you see the trailers and the fights they are doing, the time they are investing in the production is unbelievable. I’ve been to Bellator and UFC and the production value just can’t compare.”
With the pause in MMA action around the world, I have taken this time to go back and watch as much KSW as possible. You can easily find videos on their website or on YouTube. From beginning to end, nothing will grab and keep your attention like the production and quality of the organization.