The greatest fighter in KSW history turned back the clock—and won back the belt that had once been his.
In the main event of KSW 55 on Saturday, 40-year-old Mamed Khalidov returned to the cage in the wake of three straight losses and two announced retirements to face middleweight champion Scott Askham, who had thoroughly dominated him in their previous meeting at KSW 52 last December. Askham, holding the KSW middleweight title that Khalidov had vacated in 2018 to pursue a pair of champ-vs.-champ bouts with light heavyweight champion Tomasz Narkun, was the substantial favorite, but once the action began, Khalidov was the aggressor. After a couple of tentative early exchanges, Khalidov leapt forward and threw a jumping switch kick, his right foot landing perfectly on the champ’s jaw. Askham went down in a heap at the base of the fence, Khalidov pounced and landed a pair of hammerfists before the referee could dive in for the stoppage at just 32 seconds of Round 1.
With the highlight-reel finish, Khalidov (35-7-2) picks up his first win since he defended the middleweight belt against Borys Mankowski at KSW 39 in May 2017. Now a two-time middleweight champ as well as a former light heavyweight champ, with a 19-3-2 record in the KSW cage, the Chechen-born Pole is inarguably the most accomplished fighter in the promotion’s history as well as one of its biggest stars. Askham (19-5), who had never been finished before Saturday, snapped a five-fight winning streak dating back to his release from the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2017.
Materla Pounds out Ilic
Another of KSW’s most decorated veterans, former middleweight champion Michal Materla, waded through some early fire from Aleksandar Ilic to score a dominant second-round finish. For much of the first round, Materla found himself unable to navigate the reach of the taller, longer Serbian, who knocked him down with a lightning-fast straight left and landed several powerful body kicks. The second round was a different story, as Materla ran Ilic to the ground off of a lazy kick within 30 seconds, then went to work. Landing in side control, “Magic” isolated Ilic’s far arm, trapped the near arm moments later and then dropped elbows from the crucifix position until the referee pulled him off at 1:33 of Round 2.
The 36-year-old Materla moves to 29-7 and remains a central figure in the KSW middleweight title picture; in the last five years, his only losses have been to Khalidov and Askham. Ilic (12-4), after a fantastic head kick knockout of Damian Janikowski in his KSW debut last March, has now lost back-to-back fights for the first time in his career.
Janikowski Edges Out Gustafsson
In the first of three middleweight bouts to cap off the evening in Lodz, Damian Janikowski (5-3) ground out a tough split decision over promotional newcomer Andreas Gustafsson (6-1). The first round was all Janikowski, as the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling struck for an effortless takedown within seconds, passed to side control, and then spent most of the round in dominant positions, if not inflicting too much damage. The second round was a mirror image of the first: Gustafsson denied Janikowski’s takedown attempts, bouncing right back up when they did hit the canvas, and was clearly the winner of the kickboxing match that remained. The back-and-forth final round was the source of dissension for the judges, who awarded the fight to Janikowski by 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 scorecards.
With the win over the previously undefeated Swede, Janikowski remains a person of interest in the middleweight division, though decisive losses to Materla and Ilic within the last two years leave him an uphill climb towards title contention.
Other Results: Stasiak Puts Surdyn to Sleep
In other action, Tomasz Romanowski (13-7) overpowered fellow KSW newcomer Ion Surdu (10-3) via unanimous decision in a welterweight battle; former UFC bantamweight Damian Stasiak (12-7) choked Patryk Surdyn (5-1) unconscious with an arm-triangle choke at 4:17 of Round 2; Przemyslaw Mysiala ground-and-pounded Stjepan Bekavac of Croatia for a second-round TKO; former welterweight title challenger Krystian Kaszubowski took a unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-24) in a one-sided drubbing of the debuting Jakub Kamieniarz; and in the lone women’s fight of the evening, strawweight Karolina Wojcik outpaced a tiring Sylwia Juskiewicz by unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
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