KSW 84 Preview; De Fries v Bajor, Przybysz and Janikowski return

KSW are back this weekend as they head to the seaside. KSW 84 will take place this Saturday in Gdynia in northern Poland. The Polsat Plus Arena (not to be confused with the stadium in nearby Gdańsk with the same name) will host ten bouts under KSW mixed martial arts rules, including one for a KSW international championship.

Phil de Fries (23-6) is the most dominant champion in promotional history and will make the ninth defence of his KSW Heavyweight title. The fighting pride of Sunderland recently received a Rolex following an undefeated five-year run in the company. The Englishman trains with high calibre and gigantic UFC fighters Tom Aspinall, Mick Parkin and Paul Craig. The 37-year-old is as strong as an ox and is a dominant grappler. Once he’s on top of you, he’s staying there. Ground and pound will follow until the referee steps in, you give up the sub or you’re saved by the bell. Szymon Bajor (24-9) makes his KSW return after a 2-1 stint between 2014-16. Since then, the Pole has had a successful FEN run and has competed for the PFL. The Rzeszów man likes to finish fights and can do it wherever the fight goes, with ten knockouts and ten submissions to his name. Can he be the one to end the De Fries dynasty?

Sebastian Przybysz (11-3) is one of the most prominent fighters training out of Gdynia. The former bantamweight champion trains at the Mighty Bulls gym alongside the likes of Kacper Formela. The 29-year-old has also spent some time over at Kill Cliff FC in Florida preparing for recent fights. The Pole is a very slick striker and equally as impressive on the ground. Victory will put him on course for a trilogy fight for the belt with Jakub Wikłacz. Islam Djabrailov (9-4) wants to spoil the homecoming. Training out of Hannover in Germany, he has most of his success in the submission game. This is a step up in competition for the German and will have to dig deep to have any success here.

Damian Janikowski (8-5) is KSW’s resident Olympian, winning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling. The 34-year-old is owner to one of the most beautiful suplexes in the sport, however his coaches would prefer he avoids usage due to energy preservation. The Wrocław man is blood and thunder on the feet and when he lands clean, the opponent goes lights out. Cezariusz Kęsik (13-3) is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster. “The Polish Tank” is a soldier by day, which does affect his activity in mixed martial arts. The Pole has had a tough run of fights against top opposition (champ Paweł Pawlak, UFC’s Abus Magomedov and title challenger Tommy Romanowski) of late and will be looking to get back into his fight finishing ways on Saturday. This man ends fights with his hands, elbows, knees and feet. The power lasts all fifteen. Danger lurks around every corner.

Bartosz Leśko (12-3-2) is another man fighting on home turf and trains out of Mad Dogs Gdynia. The 27-year-old is a master of synching in a rear naked choke. The 6ft2in middleweight can get it done on the feet also, however is more comfortable on the ground. Nemanja Nikolić (9-0-1) puts his undefeated streak on the line with a step up into the big leagues. The Serbian is a quick starter who likes to end things early. The Belgrade man doesn’t mind where the fight goes and has four knockouts and four submissions on his résumé. He’s never fought anyone like Leśko though.

Bruno Santos (10-4) has been a two-time challenger to the bantamweight crown in the past, losing to Przybysz and Račić. The third loss was to current champ Jakub Wikłacz which indicates how tough his KSW run has been. The Brazilian has a very good Jiu Jitsu game and is decent on the feet. Gustavo Oliveira (9-2) is a compatriot that now bases himself out of Portugal. The 26-year-old came up short against Patryk Surdyn last time out. The Lisbon man is more of a knockout artist, with five on his record, and he also has a serviceable Jiu Jitsu game.

Damian Stasiak (13-9) is a UFC veteran who went 2-4. The Pole is a submission expert, winning ten pro fights using that method. The Łódź man is also a high level karate specialist. The 33-year-old still has gas in the tank and is a very hard man to keep up with. He has also only been finished once. Pascal Hintzen (8-2) is a prospect out of the UFD Gym in Düsseldorf. The 27-year-old is also a submission expert, notching up six victories by tap. The German has a very versatile choke game and can catch you wherever you leave your neck.

Henry Fadipe (13-10-1) is back in action following a close decision loss to Marcin Krakowiak. The Dubliner trains out of Fantom MMA in Moore Street, a gym that doesn’t get enough of a shine from the Irish MMA world. The Nigerian born man is an explosive fighter with a highlight reel chock-full of spectacular finishes, perhaps none as fantastic as his Peruvian necktie submission on his KSW debut against Albert Odzimkowski. Krystian Kaszubowski (10-3) is another hometown Mighty Bulls Gdynia man. The Pole is a very strong wrestler with plenty of physical strength. On the feet, he does damage with his strikes. The 28-year-old is durable and doesn’t slow down over the fifteen minutes.

Darko Stošić (17-6) is a man who walks around with an impending sense of doom for all who fall before him. The Serbian is a former UFC fighter, going 1-3 in the promotion. Everything is big and powerful with this guy, massive swings, huge power, explosive double legs. The 31-year-old won’t throw a huge volume, however if he lands he doesn’t need to. Damage is his game. The judo practitioner has eleven knockouts on his stats sheet. Stefan Vojcak (6-0) is another newbie putting his undefeated record on the line. The Slovakian comes in from UAE Warriors and has a well rounded game. The 33-year-old has two knockouts and three submissions to date. This will be a big step up in opposition. 

Borys Dzikowski (3-0) has been a fun and colourful addition to the KSW roster, known for his children’s song entrance (Silny Jak Lew – Strong Like a Lion) and pink or purple shorts. The excitement extends to his fighting style, where he finished his first two fights by knockout. He’s also shown to have good wrestling chops. Damian Mieczkowski (1-0) is another who’s day job is a soldier and he’s fought on Armia Fight Night in the past. The Kołobrzeg man trains about 2.5hrs from Gdynia, so he should have a lot of fans in the crowd. He won his pro debut by knockout. The pair were originally meant to face each other at KSW 78, however injury caused Mieczkowski to pull out.

Miłosz Melchert (2-1) is looking to bounce back from his first pro defeat to Ireland’s Carl McNally. The Słupsk man should also have a strong following here, growing up an hour and half from the venue. The Pole is a striker with knockout power. Patryk Chrobak (3-3) flew out of the gates with a three-fight win streak to kick off his pro career, however has hit a three-fight skid since. The Bielsko-Biala man is a hard-hitting striker with dangerous submissions off his back. As an amateur, he was a very good grappler.

KSW 84 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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