KSW 95 Preview; Wikłacz v Przybysz 5, De Fries v Sakai

KSW are back with a rare Friday night card, heading to Olsztyn for the first time. The Lake District of Poland will host KSW 95, with a sold out crowd ready to descend on the Urania Arena. Nine fights adorn the card, including two for KSW international titles.

Bacon and eggs, salt and pepper, Batman and Robin, few things go as well together as Wikłacz and Przybysz. Pentalogies are extremely rare in mixed martial arts, usually two or three bouts maximum are enough to separate even the closest matchups. This pair have pushed each other to their limits, have brought out stuff in each other they never knew existed, and on Friday we have the latest chapter in the saga. Jakub Wikłacz (15-3-2) is the reigning, defending KSW Bantamweight Champion, putting the strap on the line for the third time. An Olsztyn native, he’ll have the benefit of the hometown crowd in his corner. The Czerwony Smok man is an elite BJJ player with a particularly nasty guillotine and triangle choke. The 27-year-old has been improving big time in the striking exchanges, causing heaps of damage without quite getting any finishes. Sebastian Przybysz (12-3-1) is the former champion and had defended it twice before losing out on a split decision to Wikłacz. The 30-year-old is a fantastic well rounded martial artist. The Mighty Bulls Gdynia man has a good wrestling game where he is aggressive and quick in synching up submissions. On the feet, his boxing fundamentals are solid and he works the body well. His attritional damaging style is a big problem over twenty-five minutes. Few men can go the distance with Sebić. Wikłacz leads the series 2-1-1, with the matchups between them seemingly getting closer and closer. This could go either way.

Phil de Fries (24-6) puts his KSW Heavyweight Championship on the line for the tenth time, one of the most dominant reigns in MMA history. The Sunderland man has been untouchable in the grappling department during his ten-fight KSW stint. The jolly 38-year-old is the main training partner of UFC interim champion Tom Aspinall and up-and-comer Mick Parkin. In the striking realms, the big man packs a punch and has used those fists to end half his promotional bouts. The king plans to live long. Augusto Sakai (16-5-1) is a new signing from the UFC, having also previously fought for Bellator. The 33-year-old has no reverse mode, he’s steaming forward throwing bungalows as soon as the opening bell sounds. The Brazilian is coming to knock your block off with his kickboxing. It’s only been big heavy hitting heavyweights that have bested him, and it’s usually on the feet. De Fries will likely need to use his wrestling to keep the winning run going and to avoid hammers flying at him the opposite way.

Roman Szymański (17-8) is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster and is always down for a fight. The 31-year-old is looking to get back to winning ways after losing his previous two. The Czerwony Smok man is a well rounded martial artist with an attractive kickboxing and grappling style. Action is fast paced, volume is high. He’s got the stamina to keep the attacking going and last until the final bell. Marcin Held (28-10) is a former UFC and PFL fighter, and one of Poland’s best BJJ black belts. The Tychy man is a submission whizz in MMA competition, and he is the owner of one of the largest war chests of potential finishes. The 32-year-old has a wicked guillotine, a nasty leg lock repertoire and he’ll snatch your arm the second you leave it idle. He might have the best kneebar in Europe. The Pole is serviceable on the feet and hard to break down. This is a clash of titans at lightweight, which I’d slightly side with Szymański as I feel he has more ways to win.

The next bout is a humdinger, excitement guaranteed. Brian Hoii (19-10) has been wowing KSW fans since his arrival with a highlight reel kickboxing style. The 29-year-old puts all his limbs to good use, generating massive power with his kicks, knees, elbows and punches. Eight men have been felled by his strikes, and he has a great choke game to supplement the big shots. Tymoteusz Łopaczyk (11-3) is another newly signed talent coming into KSW, having impressed in FEN, Babilon MMA and Strife. The Pole trains in Warsaw and is also a hard hitting kickboxer. The 28-year-old is attack minded, throws great knees, lovely head kicks and has heavy hands. Early on in his career, he utilised grappling and rear naked chokes to get his hand raised; we haven’t seen that in a while though. This should be explosive and Hoii has a bit more experience.

Adrian Zieliński (24-13) is another hometown hero performing in front of his adoring fans. The 37-year-old is a former FEN champion and Babilon MMA fighter. The Arrachion Olsztyn man is a Muay Thai stylist who starts fights quickly and smashes opponents with elbows and punches. This is a veteran who’s tough as nails and has a decent ground game. Oskar Szczepaniak (6-1) is part of the new generation making waves. The 24-year-old had a lot of success with his submission game on the amateur scene, alternating between rear naked and triangle choke wins. As a pro, his fists have been writing his cheques. The young Berserker sprints out of the gates and puts it on opponents immediately, usually overwhelming them and earning a knockout. Old school versus the new school, there should be enough life left in the old dog to eek out a win here.

Patryk Surdyn (7-4) is a talented former Armia FN bantamweight champion. The Łomża man has a great submission game, solid with his chokes and armbars. The 29-year-old has developed a competitive striking game, with a devastating inside elbow. He’s faced a high calibre of opponent on his KSW journey so far, which has resulted in a few losses. Don’t let that give you the impression that he’s not game. Shamad Erzanukaev (2-0) is one of the hottest young talents in KSW. Activity has been his issue and sometimes there’s been turbulence in contract negotiations. The WCA talent is a firecracker, and has long been tipped by Mamed Khalidov to head straight to the top of the sport. The young man had a perfect amateur career and is undefeated as a pro. He has a great submission game, both off his back and offensively. His kickboxing ability is very solid. This is a real quality check.

Krystian Bielski (9-6) is a man who loves a scrap. The Mława man is here to knock you out or go out on his sword. The 31-year-old is a danger throughout the fight and is always looking for a finish. Always trying to be on the front foot, the Pole will work the body and the head with vicious punches. Borys Dzikowski (3-1) is a big man with a big personality. The 26-year-old has a lot of power in his hands and feet, and has an explosive kickboxing game. He’s picked a pair of knockout victories early in his career, and he’ll be aiming to go into the fire to claim his third. Bielski might mix it up by taking the fight down though.

Michał Dreczkowski (4-0) was successful in his KSW debut with a decision win last October in Czechia. The Ankos MMA man has a kickboxing background and loves to land huge blows early. The 23-year-old does damage, causing cuts and haematomas that will have the doctors questioning the opponent’s ability to continue. He’s young in his career but has good upside. Stevan Jarić (4-1) is a newcomer who’s blazed a trail on the Serbian Battle Championship. He can hang on the feet and he’s got a slick choke game. This will be a step up in opposition. Dreczkowski should have enough about him to secure a victory.

Dawid Kuczmarski (5-0) is also an Olsztyn man who will have a decent crowd chanting his name. The 21-year-old has great experience despite his years, however is yet to turn his dominance into finishes. Decisions are how he’s got it done so far. He’s good everywhere, however needs to nail his timing to start getting it done within the distance. Morgann Gbolou (4-2) is a natural finisher. The Frenchman has a mean guillotine that he uses as takedown defence, and a solid, impactful kickboxing game in the stand-up exchanges. Both men are relatively new on the scene and haven’t fought the hardest records yet, so this is a toss up.

KSW 95 is live from 6pm Irish time on Friday 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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