Mamed Khalidov submitted James Irvin at KSW 15. | Norbert GwieÅºdziÅ„ski/Sherdog.com
WARSAW, Poland -- Mamed Khalidov’s lightning-fast submission of UFC veteran James Irvin was the silver lining to a largely disastrous evening for Polish mixed martial artists at Saturday’s Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki 15.
Before a hometown crowd at Torwar Hall, Khalidov began the fight in typical fashion by throwing a spinning heel kick. He missed and dropped to his back, where Irvin gave chase and threw powerful shots. Khalidov composed himself and swiftly rolled into an armbar that had the American -- who weighed in at 200 pounds for the middleweight contest -- tapping at the 33-second mark and the fans screaming with excitement. Khalidov was just the third Polish-based fighter to defeat a foreign opponent on the night.
“I’m very happy to represent Poland,” said Khalidov, who recently received his Polish citizenship. “We are fighters. If I have prepared for months for a fight, then I have to take it, even if my opponent came in overweight.”
Another UFC vet, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, fared better in the show’s co-main event, as he snapped Jan Blachowicz’s nine-fight win streak to claim the KSW light heavyweight belt.
The fighters chose to exchange low kicks throughout the bout, a decision which proved disastrous for Blachowicz. The Cameroonian’s powerful strikes dug into Blachowicz’s lead leg often and hard.
By the midway point of round two, Blachowicz’s leg was heavily swollen and the 28-year old struggled to keep his balance. Sokoudjou’s kicks were relentless and ultimately proved too much: after 10 minutes of battering, Blachowicz was unable to answer the bell for the third round and left the arena on a stretcher.
“I know I didn’t have the power to beat him. He showed me a weakness and I took advantage of it,” the victorious Sokoudjou said after his title win.
The vacant KSW lightweight title was claimed by Finland’s Niko Puhakka, who put Maciej Gorski to sleep with an arm-triangle choke at 3:20 of the second round.
Gorski looked spry in the standup, but was unable to put a stop to Puhakka’s takedowns. After a particularly flashy slam in the second stanza, Puhakka moved to side control and secured the winning hold. Gorski went out and referee Tomasz Bronder stopped the fight, though the Pole was unable to come to terms with the official’s decision for a few minutes after the fight.
Puhakka’s Espoon Kehahait teammate, Toni Valtonen, proved to be too much for Poland’s Lukasz Jurkowski to handle. The heavier and stronger Finn completed most of his takedowns and spent approximately eight minutes of the 10-minute bout on top of Jurkowski throwing strikes.
After the fight, Jurkowski took the microphone and announced to the crowd that, having lost his 10th fight, he was retiring from MMA. The 30-year-old thanked the hometown fans for their support and received a rousing ovation.
Spain’s Rogent Lloret survived scattered scares over the course of 10 minutes to out-grapple returning Pole Karol Bedorf to a unanimous decision. Successful sweeps and brief flashes of offense from Bedorf were drowned in Lloret’s dominating top game.
In a largely tentative affair, former Cage Rage light heavyweight champion James Zikic became the top contender to the KSW middleweight title by defeating Antoni Chmielewski after a three-minute overtime round. Neither fighter landed any significant strikes through two five-minute periods, save a few sharp low kicks from Chmielewski in the opening frame. The Pole also threw Zikic to the ground, but failed to capitalize on top position. With 30 seconds to go in the dead-even extension round, Chmielewski slipped while throwing a low kick and Zikic took full advantage, getting on top and attacking until time ran out.
After competing just once in the past four years, Poland’s Michal Materla enjoyed a victorious comeback, submitting Cyrille Diabate teammate Gregory Babene at 4:29 of round two. The Frenchman used striking to stifle Materla early, but resorted to takedowns in the second frame. Once on the ground, Materla outclassed Babene with sweeps and submission attempts before ultimately ending the middleweight contest with a guillotine choke.
In a fight that was expected to be a wild brawl, Marcin Bartkiewicz set out to take down K-1 kickboxer Marcin Rozalski. The heavyweights clashed heads during a takedown attempt in the first round, opening a gash on the side of Bartkiewicz’s head. The cut eventually caused the ringside doctor to stop the fight. However, the accidental clash of heads seemed to elude officials, who awarded Rozalski the TKO victory.
Mamed Khalidov’s cousin, Aslambek Saidov, won the evening’s competitive, grappling-heavy opener with a unanimous decision against Ruben Crawford. Saidov pressed for takedowns and brought the fight to the floor on multiple occasions. Crawford, however, did well to maintain guard and even threatened with submissions from his back. After 15 minutes of back-and-forth, all three judges awarded the bout to Saidov.