European MMA is undoubtedly going through a great era, and it’s only fitting that this weekend KSW has another absolute banger lined up.
Sure, UFC 229 is up as well. But this card will be on early for US fans, and has some of the most legitimate talent on the European circuit. Not only that, but as the name of the event says, they’re coming back to the SSE Arena Wembley in London. Also, the middleweight division gets a shakeup with a tournament for the belt, as champion Mamed Khalidov has vacated the title.
Main event spot goes to current KSW heavyweight champion Phil De Fries (15-6) vs former KSW champion Karol Bedorf (15-3). Both Bedorf and De Fries have faced a long list of experienced and respectable talent. De Fries in particular has had a nice handful of performances lately. Bedorf lost his belt to Fernando Rodrigues Jr by TKO, but rebounded nicely with a kimura win over former strongman competitor Mariusz Pudzianowski.
Co-main honors go to what is a must-watch rematch between Roberto Soldić (13-3) and South Africa’s dual EFC middleweight and welterweight champ, Dricus Du Plessis (12-1). It’s a bit strange, considering this is an immediate rematch and their first bout ended quite decisively. It’s still very athletic hard hitters, with Du Plessis being one of the most impressive international talents out there. His fights are pretty dazzling, and this looks like it’ll have another explosive end.
I’ll continue to say it, Damian Janikowski (3-0) may be the best pure athlete to take to MMA in a long time. And now, he’s in the first portion of the four-man middleweight #1 contender tournament. His fight against Yannick Bahati saw him handle a capable and experience fighter without relying mainly on his wrestling. His striking is functional with no flash, and combines well with his world-class pedigree. His opponent will be former KSW middleweight champion Michał Materla. Materla lost his title to Scott Askham, but really made a statement upon his return to action against Martin Zawada in June. Now he’s hungry to get back to the top, but has to stop a very relatively inexperienced but lethal opponent to get there.
Also in the tournament is former UFC talent Scott Askham (16-4), who just brutalized former champ Michał Materla with body kicks to a TKO victory. His opponent Marcin Wojcik (11-5), who uses his range to land heavy damage.
Max Nunes was supposed to fight former UFC fighter Wagner Prado (14-3), but no-showed when he was scheduled to arrive and pulled out on less than a week’s notice. He’s being replaced by Łukasz Parobiec (13-7, 1 draw), who looks like he could be Mr Cool Ice’s dad. Prado’s 6-1 since his departure from the UFC.
The man known as Popek Monster (3-3, government name Paweł Mikolajuw) is also coming to London, as he faces fitness model Erko Jun (1-0). Belgium’s Jun is more than a pretty face, as he’s been training with the crew over at the UFD Dusseldorf, which has been churning out some great prospects.
Former UFC fighter Thiago Silva (20-7) fights James McSweeney, and Akop Szostak (3-2) takes on Engand’s Jamie Sloan.
Here’s some previews of the event as well:
Card order is as follows:
Phil De Fries vs Karol Bedorf – Heavyweight title fight
Dricus Du Plessis vs Roberto Soldić – Welterweight title fight
Erko Jun vs Popek Monster – Heavyweight
Damian Janikowki vs Michał Materla – Middleweight tournament semifinals
Scott Askham vs Marcin Wojcik – Middleweight tournament semifinals
James McSweeney vs Thiago Silva – Heavyweight
Wagner Prado vs Łukasz Parobiec – Heavyweight
Alfie Davis vs Leszek Krakowski – Lightweight
Jamie Sloane vs Akop Szostek – Light Heavyweight
KSW 45: The Return to Wembley begins at 1:00pm EST, streaming live via KSW’s site via proprietary video player or also on FITE.tv for $11.99. It’s also streaming on DAZN.