KSW 68 Preview: Parnasse vs Rutkowski; Janikowski returns

The third month of the year brings the third KSW event of the year this Saturday night. This time the cage will be set up in the town of Radom, an hour and a half south of the capital city of Warsaw. KSW 68 will take place in the Radomskie Centrum Sportu in front of a sold out crowd of 6,000 fans. The card will feature 9 bouts, including 1 for an international KSW championship.

Salahdine Parnasse (16-1-1) regained his KSW Featherweight belt with a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Torres at KSW 65. He will defend his crown in the main event against hometown favourite Daniel Rutkowski (13-2). France’s Parnasse is a phenomenon. Despite being only 24 years of age, he has huge experience at the elite level of European MMA, with victories over several former KSW (Sowiński, Wrzosek) and Cage Warriors (Buchinger, Charriere) champions. The Atch Academy man is an artist in the striking realms. His footwork is a thing of beauty and he can dance around opponents picking them off for days on end. The obvious counter to this is to try and take him down, a task that’s easier said than done. He’s proven time and time again that he can stop the takedown. Poland’s Rutkowski might be the best wrestler he has fought though. He’s a former national champion in Greco Roman wrestling, a skill he doesn’t always show. He’s fallen in love with his striking in recent years, including trying his hand at boxing. Before signing for KSW, Rutek was simultaneously the FEN and Babilon MMA featherweight champion, a win here would complete a rare treble of Polish MMA titles. He may decide to keep things standing, and if he does he’s more than capable of hanging with Parnasse. He’s got a lovely high kick and can box against the best of them. This should be an interesting chess match. Parnasse wins and he’ll want to move up to face Ziólkowski for 155lb gold.

We have a barnburner set for the co-main event. The number 2 ranked welterweight Michał Pietrzak (10-4-1) will take on fan favourite Tomasz Romanowski (14-8). Pietrzak trains out of Ankos MMA in Poznań. He’s as tough as they come and he’ll be ready for a battle. He can strike and he can wrestle. He’s got an incredible fighting heart and is willing to trade blow for blow. That will be music to Tommy Romanowski’s ears. The Berserker Team man started MMA as a strong Jiu Jitsu player. Nowadays, he’s a blood and thunder gladiator. He’s got similar heart and bravery to his opponent. He has power in his hands and also throws volume. Neither of these men usually let the pace slip. This is going to be a humdinger of a fight.

The Pride of Wrocław Damian Janikowski (6-4) goes one more time into the fray. He’s a Polish Olympic hero having won a bronze medal at the London 2012 games in Greco Roman wrestling. Since starting MMA, he’s been really good at adding extra elements to his game. His striking just gets better every fight, good hands and uses his kicks nicely. He’ll always have that wrestling base to fall back on. He’s worked hard at improving his cardio, which going forward may see him using less of his patented suplexes. He’ll take on Tomasz Jakubiec (10-3). The Silesian Cage Club man is a BJJ black belt. He’s trained a lot with Igor Michaliszyn in the lead up to this, so he’s definitely got his striking rounds in. He is a very durable fighter that’s good to go all fifteen minutes. This is a well matched bout.

There will be a heavyweight scrap on the card in the shape of Michał Kita (21-13-1) and Ricardo Prasel (11-3). Kita is a true veteran of the sport having started out way back in 2006. Whilst he has a wrestling background, he likes to keep it simple and use his knockout power to send his opponents to the land of wind and ghosts. The Zabrze native still works hard year round and likes to stay active. He’s still taking on all comers. Brazil’s Prasel is a new signing and has recently fought on the Dana White Contender Series and at UAE Warriors so has been hovering around the UFC level. He’s going to have a significant height advantage in this one, standing at 6ft7in, six inches taller than his opponent. Naturally he’s going to want to use that length to stop Kita getting inside him. Those long limbs come in handy in the submission game with the likes of triangles and leg locks coming that little bit easier to him. This will be fun while it lasts.

One of the hot prospects of KSW is looking to bounce back from his first career defeat. Patryk Kaczmarczyk (7-1) came up just short against fellow up and comer Robert Ruchała at KSW 64. He’s another Radom man, training out of Radomski Klub Taekwon-do, with some of the camp being done in UFD Gym Düsseldorf. Outside the cage he carries himself well. He’s a good talker, he dresses well and he knows how to get eyes on him. Inside the cage he’s the new breed of mixed martial artists who is comfortable wherever the fight takes him. He’s got a very active style on the feet and keeps a quick pace. He’s got good timing on his takedowns and he’s very heavy with his top wrestling. Michał Domin (4-2) will strap on the blue gloves on Saturday. The Żory man is another one of the young crop of fighters who’ve joined KSW in recent times. He’s comfortable on the feet, however can sometimes get caught on the ground. We are watching the future in this one.

It’s been a while since the Irish flag has been flown in KSW. The last time would have been at KSW 44 back in September 2018 (excluding Norman Parke who flies the Northern Ireland flag). Tommy Quinn (9-5) makes his return to MMA for the first time since 2019 to take on local hero Albert Odzimkowski (11-6). Quinn, a Ballymena man fighting out of Newcastle, was a mainstay on the U.K. scene. He took on a who’s who of fighters including Philip Mulpeter, Matt Inman and Jack Mason. The Roly Poly Kid has won most of his fights via KO/TKO recently, which is the realm I expect to see him try to take the fight. Albert Odzimkowski is a man of many hats. When he’s not in the cage, you’ll find him doing analysts in the booth. Born in Radom and trains out of WCA Warsaw, the fan favourite comes from a judo and boxing background. He’s a fighter who takes risks and will take a shot to land one. I can see him trying to use more of his grappling in this one where he should have an edge.

Rafał Kijańczuk (10-4) is another WCA Warsaw fighter on the card. The light heavyweight is a natural born finisher. Once the bell sounds, the Chełm man is going to walk across the cage and try to knock his opponent out. He’s only ever gone to a decision once. Whilst this is his KSW debut, he has fought for KSW’s sister promotion Genesis so it won’t be a completely new experience for him. He’ll take on a teammate of Parnasse’s, Yann Kouadja (8-4). The Frenchman is on a six fight win streak, winning the last 5 within the distance. Like his opponent, he has knockout power. This will be a step up in competition for Kouadja. This isn’t the fight to run to the kitchen for.

Piotr Kacprzak (6-3) is a fighter I’m really looking forward to seeing at this level. He looked great in his last outing against a really strong opponent in Krzysztof Gutowski at Babilon MMA 25. He lost to some very good guys early on in his career, however the jump in skill he’s made recently has been enormous. He’s shown to have a smart tactical brain to go along with his effective striking and slick grappling. He could rise through the ranks quickly. He’s another Radom local so will have the crowd behind him. Standing opposite him will be former TUF Brazil competitor José Marcos (11-4). He’s trained with top talent in Nova União so nothing will shock him. We can expect Marcos to be strong all around.

We should have excitement to start the card with a light heavyweight bout between Adam Tomasik (5-1) and Marcin Trzciński (1-1). Both men had false starts in their KSW debuts, losing to Oumar Sy and Damian Piwowarczyk respectively. Let’s face it, there’s no shame in that with both men extending their undefeated streaks in their next fights. Tomasik is a finisher wherever the fight goes. He can knock you out or submit you, and he can do it quickly. He’s only gone past round one once. Trzciński hasn’t shown to have that killer touch so far, however he’s tough and can grind out a decision well if given the chance. Tomasik’s aggression should be enough to see him through.

KSW 68 is live from 6pm Irish time on Saturday and access can be purchased at KSWTV.com or on the ViaPlay subscription service in select countries.

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.