KSW 94 Preview; Bartoś v Michaliszyn, Wrzosek v Szpilka, Ruchała v Kaczmarczyk 2

KSW is back this Saturday for their tenth visit to the Ergo Arena in Northern Poland. The 12,000 capacity venue is located on the border of Gdańsk and Sopot in the tri-city area. KSW 94 is one of the biggest events of the year and fans will be treated to ten bouts under KSW MMA rules, including two for international titles.

Adrian Bartośinski (15-0) successfully defended his KSW Welterweight title last December against the great Salahdine Parnasse in a close decision, and on Saturday night he will put it on the line again in his ninth promotional bout. The 28-year-old is an elite finisher, particularly in the kickboxing realm. The Pole has the type of power that will turn you upside down in an instant. Footwork and accuracy transfix his opponents, and he uses those skills to dominate fights. The Octopus Łódź man can also wrestle and use his BJJ skills should the mood strike him. Igor Michaliszyn (10-2) takes this opportunity on a week’s notice following an injury to Andrzej Grzebyk. The 28-year-old is a very powerful man who you’re likely not shifting if he gets on top of you. Training out of the Silesian Cage Club in Katowice under Tomasz Bronder, the Pole is one of those guys that makes your life a misery. Once he gets the takedown, he treats you to gigantic ground and pound, as well as offering up a choke game. On the feet, his punches land like a bowling ball hitting the pins. This will be his first fight in a year following a back injury, and he was training for a fight at the following KSW event in June when he got the call up. These two lads will go in like bulls to a red rag, someone is going down before the final bell. I’d lean towards Bartośinski defending.

Arek Wrzosek (4-0) is perhaps my favourite KSW fighter, a man who brings all the drama, emotion, entertainment and atmosphere to the big arenas. The Warsaw man is a former Glory kickboxer and has a notable win over Badr Hari. The 31-year-old trains out of the Uniq Fight club and is a huge fan of Legia Warsaw, which will be clear on the day as he brings a huge crowd of colourful and spirited fans loudly and proudly backing their hero. “Hightower” is obviously most dangerous on the feet, throwing hammers at your skull and pulverising you with his kicks. He has a serviceable ground game which he’ll show when he needs to. Artur Szpilka (3-0) is a former professional boxer coming in hot after knocking out Mariusz Pudzianowski at the Colosseum last summer. The 35-year-old contested Deontay Wilder for the WBC Heavyweight title back in 2016. The Pole is a big character with guts and determination, he gets back up every time he’s knocked down. “Szpila” will be swinging his big fists, looking to cause fight stopping damage. He also has a decent wrestling game to keep things a little bit honest. It wouldn’t be a Wrzosek match if he didn’t give his fans a big scare, however I feel the kicks will be the difference.

The interim KSW Featherweight Championship is up for grabs in Gdańsk, which may be upgraded to the full title pending the results of Salahdine Parnasse’s free agency quest. Robert Ruchała (9-1) will recognise the belt having held it before. The Nowy Sącz man’s only defeat came in a unification bout with the aforementioned Parnasse. The 25-year-old is a seriously good grappler, with a panache for taking arms home with him. The Pole is a brave warrior on the feet and will remain competitive until the end. He won the first matchup between these two back in 2021, however they were babies back then. Patryk Kaczmarczyk (11-2) earned his place in this bout with a dazzling victory over Daniel Rutkowski. “The Prince of Radom” is a man with plenty of star power and has a dominating wrestling game where he wears away at you and inflicts damage. The 25-year-old marries this with a slick kickboxing repertoire. Knees and elbows will be flying, his strikes will work the levels and there will be a hunger to get a highlight reel finish. These two men have the potential to carry Polish MMA on their shoulders. Both have good camps at home, and mix it up by training in the USA. This will be close, however I’m picking Kaczmarczyk to edge it.

Kacper Formela (17-4) is a high profile signing, coming in from FEN where he was their featherweight champion. Hailing from nearby Iława, the Pole trains out of the Mighty Bulls in Gdynia, which is in the tri-city area. No stranger to KSW, he’s cornered teammate Sebastian Przybysz many times. Nicknamed the “Polish Machida”, the 28-year-old comes from a karate background and his striking offence causes his opponents to have fits. He’s got good Jiu Jitsu, cardio to go a hard twenty-five minutes and power to end it early, particularly in the first couple of rounds. Ahmed Vila (12-4-1) is an Oktagon veteran who had a great debut win over another debuting former FEN champion, Łukasz Charzewski. The Bosnian is on a five-fight win streak and is a fantastic Jiu Jitsu player. The 28-year-old can put in fifteen solid minutes of wrestling. This will be competitive, and I can see Formela winning it on the feet.

Michał Michalski (11-5) is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster. Once the bell rings, the Złotoryja man will be swinging with ill intentioned power. Training out of Ankos MMA in Poznań, he’s been putting a lot of time into his wrestling in recent years. The 34-year-old holds a win over the highly ranked UFC fighter Nassouridine Imavov. Knockouts are what he’s looking for, and he’ll be winging punches and elbows to separate you from your consciousness. Bartosz Leśko (13-4-2) is an ACA veteran and another from nearby Gdynia, training with the Mag Dogs club. The 28-year-old has a good grappling game and he gets the most joy in the submission department. The Pole is a master of the takedown, taking the back and sinking in a rear naked choke. He generally does it in the first round as well. Exciting little clash of styles here between two similarly experienced veterans. I’ll flip a coin and say Michalski.

Ricardo Prasel (13-4) recently signed a new deal with KSW, however he was once on Chelsea’s books as a goalkeeper in the footballing world. The 33-year-old Contender Series veteran is an all action type of fellow, winning all of his bouts before the judges had a chance to put in their final scorecards. The big Brazilian is most dangerous on the floor, where he can land strikes and attack any available limbs. Those long legs open up the triangle choke and leg lock games. Štefan Vojčák (7-1) has a reputation for walking down opponents and dominating the fight wherever he sees fit. The 34-year-old is a well rounded martial artist and is always looking for a quick finish. Big power on the feet, strength causing issues in the submission game, the Slovakian is a force of nature. He should have enough about him to defend Prasel’s main weapons.

Danu Tărchilă (7-2) is one of the best young fighters on the planet. The 20-year-old has bags of experience despite his short time on this earth, and he really does have the skills to pay the bills. The Moldovan has a Swiss Army knife of an offence and you never know which avenue he’ll saunter down when the ref says “fight”. Whether it’s his strong grappling or exciting kickboxing game he chooses, he can compete anywhere. Dawid Kareta (5-3) makes the long trek from Cieszyn is Southern Poland up to the north. The Octagon Team man made a statement on his debut with a big knee knockout finish. Apart from that, he’s got a really nice guillotine choke in his arsenal. I’m siding with Tărchilă.

Filip Stawowy (10-4) is a man who hasn’t hit top gear in KSW yet. The big burly heavyweight is an unassuming striker who lands with damaging shots regularly. Knockouts are his currency and he trades early and often. He picked up his first submission victory against Marek Samociuk last April. Ivan Vitasović (12-6-1) was the FNC champion before signing with KSW. The Croatian is a finisher with explosive kickboxing, savage kicks and massive punches. The 32-year-old is also no slouch on the deck, preferring to land big ground and pound over submissions. I’m picking Vitasović by GnP.

Adrianna Kreft (5-1) is looking to bounce back after her first career defeat to Yasmin Guimarães in August. The 31-year-old is an allrounder with nice kickboxing and a strong grappling game. The Tczew woman has a beautiful submission game, particularly dangerous early in the fight. Mafalda Carmona (5-2) is a new signing. The Portuguese is a dangerous striker who causes huge damage to her opponents. Rarely does anyone escape the clutches of the cutman after facing her. This will be a tough task for the Lisbon lady and I’d be expecting Kreft to come away with a win.

Patryk Tołkaczewski (0-1) was on the wrong side of the 2023 knockout of the year, Krzysztof Głowacki scoring a big punch off his back from bottom position. The Toruń man comes from the bare knuckle boxing world where  he specialised in brutal knockouts. “Gleba” works fast and usually obliterates foes within the first few minutes. Michał Turyński (debut) is a professional kickboxer dipping his toe into the mixed martial arts world. The 37-year-old doesn’t have too much of a finishing touch, but he can ramp up the volume and outwork his opponents. The Pole has competed for Glory, which shows his fighting calibre. Now let’s see how he does in the four ounce gloves. This is a pick’em.

KSW 94 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 (including the U.K.).

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.

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