It was not exactly Conor McGregor in Croke Park, but as is the promotion’s trademark, Poland’s Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki certainly brought sheer spectacle to Dublin’s 3Arena on Sunday with KSW 40.
Strongman legend and KSW's biggest draw, Mariusz Pudzianowski, in the main event prevailed in a surprisingly entertaining if freakish affair with Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight veteran Jay Silva, who stepped in on short notice for James McSweeney. Pudzianowski held on through harrowing situations in the final round to take a majority decision with scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-28.
McSweeney was pulled from the headlining contest by the promotion after independent medical advisory council Safe MMA continued to list his medical status as pending through fight week. Fearing that the British kickboxer -- McSweeney retired late last year and has publicly spoken of suffering from seizures -- would not be cleared to fight, KSW replaced him with Silva, typically a robust middleweight who had fought five times previously for the company.
Silva, who clocked in at 228 pounds for the contest, did not look physically out of place against the monstrous Pole. Nevertheless, Pudzianowski put it on him in the first 10 minutes, landing wild right hands and shockingly nimble knees in the clinch while taking him down and threatening with rear-naked chokes. However, in the final five minutes, it was apparent why the 40-year-old strongman typically fights two-round bouts, as he ate massive punches, head kicks and knees from a late-surging Silva. The 36-year-old even took Pudzianowski’s back late in the fight but could not get the finish he sought.
With the win, Pudzianowski improves to 12-5 with one no-contest in his surreal MMA career; he now has seven wins over UFC or Pride Fighting Championships veterans. Silva falls to 10-12-1 and is 2-7-1 in his last 10 fights.
In a bout that was freakish for an entirely different reason, KSW lightweight champion Mateusz Gamrot and Northern Ireland’s Norman Parke hardly settled their grudge in their rematch. In fact, their hatred intensified after the fight ended in a second-round no-contest due to eye pokes, resulting in an in-cage fracas.
At KSW “Colosseum” in May, Gamrot won a contentious but unanimous verdict over Parke, though the bout gained infamy due to the former biting the Parke’s fingers on the floor. This time around, the title was not on the line for Parke, who missed weight on the eve of the event. After a close Round 1, “Gamer” was taking over with clean counter boxing, smashing up both of Parke’s eyes. However, after a first-round eye poke, Gamrot again put his finger in the eye of an encroaching Parke, who could no longer see as a result of both legitimate damage and fouls. Referee Marc Goddard waived off the fight, which seemed to incite some scuffles in the crowd. Parke then shoved one of Gamrot’s cornermen. In turn, another of Gamrot’s seconds landed a left cross on the unsuspecting Parke in what was a lamentable, ugly scene.
All was not disconcerting for KSW champions, however, as thrilling prospect Ariane Lipski further established herself as one of the best flyweights on the planet in her first KSW title defense, tapping fellow Brazilian Mariana Morais in 58 seconds. “The Violence Queen” left no question as to who was the better woman, countering an early Morais takedown by hitting a sit-out off the fence and jumping into back mount while simultaneously cinching the decisive rear-naked choke.
The 23-year-old Lipski is now 10-3 as a pro and has recorded eight straight victories, seven of them coming by way of stoppage. Morais, 22, falls to 12-5.
Former KSW middleweight champion Michal Materla put down Brazilian veteran Paulo Thiago 50 seconds into Round 2. After some nifty grappling from his back in the first round, Materla’s right hook found Thiago’s chin, dropped him to the mat and sent Goddard into quick action. Despite his ongoing legal issues stemming from his December arrest for alleged ties to organized crime, Materla remains a free man and was tentatively penciled in to main event UFC Fight Night 118 in Gdansk, Poland, prior to re-signing with KSW.
German-Polish welterweight David Zawada battered UFC vet Maciej Jewtuszko to a unanimous decision: 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27. Zawada dropped “Irokez” early and stunned him often, landing three and four punches to every desperate left hand Jewtuszko threw. After nearly finishing Jewtuszko with a knockdown followed by a salvo of knees along the fence, Zawada spent the majority of the fight forcing his counterpart to turtle and eat punches.
SBG Ireland’s Chris Fields showed some snappy grappling in a unanimous nod -- 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 -- over Michal Fijalka. The Irishman was the more technical wrestler and used the front headlock to put Fijalka in trouble often with guillotine and brabo choke attempts, also scoring takedowns outright with snapdowns from the position while standing.
The undercard began with a trio of entertaining split decisions. Irish UFC vet Paul Redmond won a righteous nod -- 30-27, 30-27, 28-29 -- over Polish lightweight Lukasz Chlewicki in a standup affair; Paul Lawrence overcame a late surge from Ireland-based Pole Konrad Iwanowski to take scores of 30-27 and 29-28 to his opponent’s 29-28; and Croatia’s Antun Racic was awarded the deciding vote over debuting Pole Pawel Politylo: 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29.