Mamed Khalidov won his battle of Polish MMA icons with Mariusz Pudzianowski at KSW 77 and, after the lengthy build-up to their eagerly-anticipated bout, the fight wasn’t even close.
Khalidov and Pudzianowski faced off in the main event of KSW’s final event of 2022 in a battle that pitted the former middleweight and light heavyweight champion against the five-time world’s strongest man and heavyweight contender. And even though Pudzianowski outweighed Khalidov by a whopping 53 pounds at the official weigh-ins on Friday, it was Khalidov who prevailed in emphatic fashion.
After a brief feeling-out process, Pudzianowski stepped inside and initiated a tight clinch with Khalidov against the fence. But, to the surprise of many inside Arena Gliwice, it was Khalidov who held the advantage in the clinch.
The former two-division champion beautifully swept Pudzianowski to the canvas, then, after “Pudzian” fought his way back to his feet, slammed the former strongman back down to the canvas via an outside trip.
This time, Khalidov didn’t let his man back up. He quickly moved to Pudzianowski’s back and let fly with a barrage of punches that eventually forced his opponent to tap to strikes as referee Marc Goddard stepped in to wave off the contest at the 1:54 mark of the opening round.
Big slam, big win. Mamed Khalidov finishes Mariusz Pudzianowski in one at #KSW77 pic.twitter.com/4gd1ePlBZL
— Simon Head (@simonhead) December 17, 2022
The event in Gliwice also featured a pair of championship bouts, with the 135- and 205-pound titles on the line.
Wiklacz dethrones Przybysz for bantamweight title
Jakub Wiklacz may have walked to the KSW cage to the Joe Esposito’s “You’re The Best” from The Karate Kid, but it was his grappling game that proved decisive as he claimed a split decision win to defeat Sebastian Przybysz and capture the KSW bantamweight title.
Przybysz started well and edged the opening round with his striking, but Wiklacz closed the distance and turned to his superb grappling game to prove do the champion that he was a force to be reckoned with on the ground.
And that grappling superiority was shown in the closing seconds of the third round, when Wiklacz locked up a mounted guillotine choke that had the champion completely trapped. However, the bell sounded before Przybysz could tap or go unconscious, as the champion survived a major scare.
Wiklacz wasted no time in taking the action to the mat early in Round 4 as he dominated from top position, with Przybysz looking to score with strikes off his back while the challenger focused solely on chasing a submission, rather than connecting with strikes from the top.
Przybysz used his strikes to good effect in Round 5, even after the fight went to the canvas, where he looked to punish the challenger with ground and pound. But Wiklacz was a constant threat, and he soon swept the champion and ended up on top, then on Przybysz’s back, as the final bell sounded.
It meant the result hung in the balance as both men awaited the judges’ scores, and it was Wiklacz who got the nod with scores of 47-48, 49-46, 48-46.
Chuzhigaev retains with impressive win
The night’s other title bout saw reigning light heavyweight champion Ibragim Chuzhigaev successfully defend his crown with a unanimous decision win over top contender Ivan Erslan.
Chuzhigaev’s constant movement seemed to almost freeze the challenger through the first two rounds as the champion’s perpetual motion made him a tricky target for Erslan to hit. To make matters worse, the champion dropped the challenger with a left hand in Round 2 as he started to take control of the contest.
Erslan rallied in Round 3 as the Croatian had his best round of the fight, but Chuzhigaev’s movement proved key in the championship rounds as the champion returned to the stick-and-move approach that saw him look so good early in the fight.
And, when the judges tendered their scorecards, it was Chuzhigaev who took the decision with scores of 49-46, 49-45, 48-47 to register the second defense of his light heavyweight title.
Best of the rest…
There was also a pivotal bout in the KSW featherweight division, as No. 1-ranked Daniel Rutkowski defeated No. 2-ranked Lom-Ali Eskiev via split decision after three well-contested rounds.
Both men looked to stand and trade, with Rutkowski edging the first two rounds, before being dropped in the third as Eskiev looked to complete a late turnaround. But, despite a big final round from Eskiev, it was Rutkowski who took the victory, with the judges scoring the bout in his favor, 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.
That bout was the first matchup to require the judges’ involvement, with the first seven fights all finishing inside the distance.
There were crushing knockouts, including a vicious body-shot finish from Andrzej Grzebyk to defeat Oton Jasse, and a head-kick stoppage from Bogdan Gnidko, who needed just 38 seconds to finish Madalin Pirvulescu in the main card opener.
KSW 77: Official Results
- Mamed Khalidov def. Mariusz Pudzianowski via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 1, 1:54
- Jakub Wiklacz def. Sebastian Przybydz via split decision (47-48, 49-46, 48-46) – for bantamweight title
- Ibragim Chuzhigaev def. Ivan Erslan via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 48-47) – for light heavyweight title
- Daniel Rutkowski def. Lom-Ali Eskiev via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Andrzej Grzebyk def. Oton Jasse via knockout (body shot) – Round 1, 4:20
- Patryk Kaczmarczyk def. Pascal Hintzen via knockout (knee to the body) – Round 1, 1:01
- Bogdan Gnidko def. Madalin Pirvulescu via knockout (head kick and punches) – Round 1, 0:38
- Michal Domin def. Patryk Likus via submission (triangle choke) – Round 3, 4:33
- Yann Liasse def. Adrian Gralek via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:37
- Shamad Erzanukaev def. Carl McNally via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:48
- Wiktoria Czyzewska def. Oleksandra Karasova via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:12