Rafal Haratyk Captures One-Night Light Heavyweight Tournament at KSW ‘Epic’

Rafal Haratyk and Damian Piwowarczyk left it all on the line in the KSW “Epic” one-night light heavyweight tournament. The winner was to be crowned as the Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki 205-pound champ and you could’ve made a case for Haratyk or Piwowarczyk winning the fight.

Piwowarczyk’s heavy hands made it a nightmare for Haratyk to come inside but the savvy vet kept the pressure and secured pivotal takedowns at the right time. In the end, the fight was scored a split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28) for the “Polish Tank.” With the win, Haratyk claimed the belt, but his first challenge could await him in Ivan Erslan, who impressed earlier in the day with a first-round knockout over Bogdan Gnidko.

Darko Stosic starched Professional Fighters League alum Matheus Scheffel in the first round of their heavyweight Pride Fighting Championships rules bout. Like most fights at KSW “Epic,” this one was a mismatch as Scheffel was dropped quickly by a heavy right hand before being pounded into submission at 1:14 of the first round.

No. 1 ranked light heavyweight Haratyk locked up the second finale spot with a first-round stoppage over Marcin Wojcik. Haratyk went into the fight knowing that Piwowarczyk would be fresh after his opening-period finish and that he needed to follow suit. After several exchanges in the clinch, Haratyk snapped Wojcik’s head back with an up jab before sitting him on his butt with an overhand right at the 4:05 mark.

Piwowarczyk punched his ticket to the light heavyweight final with a picture-perfect liver shot on Kleber Silva. Silva started the match fast and staggered Piwowarczyk with a right cross, but the much larger Pole ate the shot and pushed forward. After walking Silva back to the cage, he ended the fight with a liver shot 2:34 into the first.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Josh Barnett challenged current KSW heavyweight king Philip De Fries to a submission grappling match. Barnett didn’t threaten De Fries on the ground, but despite dominating position, the champion was unable to secure a finish. After 10 minutes of wrestling, the bout was declared a draw.

A battle of Polish combat greats ended bizarrely as former light heavyweight and cruiserweight boxing champion Tomasz Adamek defeated former KSW ace Mamed Khalidov by TKO after Khalidov was unable to continue before the beginning of the fourth round.

Khalidov was giving the 47-year-old Adamek trouble throughout the entire fight and was arguably winning the bout at the time of the stoppage. Despite the boxing ruleset, the contest took place in the traditional KSW cage, and Adamek couldn’t cut off the much faster, unpredictable Khalidov.

Khalidov landed awkward leaping backhands, and his willingness to switch stances in a flash made him a frustrating track for the flat-footed boxing legend. Still, Adamek’s jab and body work kept the rounds close and tough to score. Before the start of the fourth, Khalidov was unable to continue after he could barely lift his right arm and complained of pain in his wrist area. Instead of going to the scorecards, Adamek was awarded the victory by TKO.

Vaclav Sivak was too much for Michal Krolik in their 145-pound muay thai bout. For three rounds, Sivak picked Krolik apart with body kicks and heavy overhand rights. Krolik struggled to carry Sivak’s power and was nearly stopped, yet he survived to the final bell before losing by unanimous decison. Sivak came in 25-0 and proved to be head and shoulders above the former bare-knuckle boxer.

Blink, and you might’ve missed Erslan’s first-round knockout over Gnidko. Erslan set Gnidko up in the opening minute and dropped him on his back with a left hook before closing the show with an emphatic right hand. The winner of Erslan and Gnidko’s light heavyweight tilt earned an alternate spot in the light heavyweight tournament final if needed. Since Erslan (14-3-0, 1 NC) was unsure at the moment if he had to fight again, he wisely called out the winner of the tournament to face him down the line.

Muslim Tulshaev signed up for his KSW debut on just a few days’ notice without any qualms about the ultra-violent, no-holds-barred ruleset. Soccer kicks, head stomps and elbows would all be allowed for his 181-pound catchweight bout against Konrad Rusinski, and Tulshaev was determined to use his entire arsenal.

Tulshaev was nearly finished with a guillotine in the first round and was almost stopped by Rusinksi’s ground-and-pound in the second frame. If he was going to pull off the upset in his KSW debut he’d need to embrace the violence. And that he did.

Tulshaev turned out Rusinski’s lights 15 seconds into the third round after dropping the Pole with an uppercut and then following up with a devastating soccer kick. Tulshaev would’ve punted Rusinki’s head into the third row if he could’ve, and the crowd loved it. Soccer kicks have been controversial throughout the history of MMA, but Tulshaev’s finish was a stellar yet violent blast from the past.

KSW “Epic” opened with an old-school MMA gi match between Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Piotr Kacprzak and judo black belt Adam Brysz. Despite the focus on the two disciplines, Kacprzak’s 13 professional MMA fights to Brysz’s two was the real story. Brysz walked forward, looking to clinch and test Kacprzak’s grappling prowess, but instead, he was obliterated by punches and kicks. Kacprzak walked through Brysz and secured a first-round TKO in the opening two minutes.

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