Earlier this afternoon, KSW (which stands for Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki, or, in English, 'Confrontation of Art and Battle') held KSW 16 Gdansk, Poland.
The fight card was broadcast live, by way of the Polish TV network IPLA TV. The entire card cost $3, and lasted about 3 hours. From a customer's point of view, I have to say that the ordering and "figuring out how to view the program" part of the process was very frustrating. IPLA has a long way to go in terms of customer satisfaction and support. The entire website is written in Polish. Luckily, I have Google Chrome to translate most sites for me, but it doesn't translate everything. Also, the translations are not always spot on. I also used a translation website to help, but this took a long time and was frustrating. Finally, I figured out that you had to install their media player, then navigate through the native Polish that was everywhere inside the player's interface (Chrome could not help me here) to the place where I could input my code. During this entire process, I had emailed IPLA's customer support email account several times. I did not receive a response. I still have not. Leland Roling from Bloody Elbow shared my frustration with the process:
It'd be nice if KSW gave me a URL referring to where I enter this damn code!
Luckily, both Leland and I were able to get through the shenanigans and actually watch the fights. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. It was only $3. I know. It also could just be my American superiority complex, but I feel like putting everything in Polish is a bit narrow and exclusive in a negative way. I worked hard to get through it all because I really wanted to see Khalidov fight. Most fans would probably not have been as dedicated.
To the actual fights. I won't spend a lot of time going over the preliminary fights. You don't care and I lack the expertise to talk at length about most of the fighters. I will voice disappointment that KSW chooses to employ Toni Valtonen, a Finnish fighter who is a self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi and professor of 'White Pride'. He's an idiot, and thankfully he got his ass handed to him by Jan Blachowicz who choked him out with an RNC in the 2nd round. Oh, the delicious irony of him being beaten by a Pole.
The production quality of the event smacked of PRIDE, with its grand entrances, pyrotechnics, and "refresher" videos between fights that, at times, made me want to scream (I live in an apartment, so this was not an available option). The two most noteworthy entrances (IMO) belonged to Mamed Khalidov and Marius Pudzianowski.
Khalidov came in on what appeared to be a fruit-picking, motorized crane that had cheesy sparks flying from the back of it. This may have been cool, if the crane was not moving painfully slow and Khalidov was not just standing there. They must have cut away with the camera 10 times, each time panning back to Khalidov who looked like he wanted to just jump and be done with it.
Pudzianowski was introduced by a group of performers, which included a flame performer, a dancer, and a band that looked and sounded like it would have been quite comfortable at one of Toni Valtonen's rallies. It was uncomfortably homo-erotic and awkward. After about 10 minutes, 'Pudz' finally made it to the ring, all the while casually strolling like the world was revolving around him. It was nauseating at best. This is clearly a man who does not buy his own beer.
The two 'headline' fights were short and sweet. Pudzianowski came out throwing absolute bombs. Many of them landed and made imprints on Thompson's face. Thompson did take Pudzianowski down near the end of Round 1, but nothing eventful happened in the exchange. When Pudzianowski came out in Round 2, he looked like he'd run several marathons. He was completely gassed, and appeared to be looking for a chance to quit. Thompson gave him that opportunity with a triangle choke. The fight lacked any hint of technical fighting. I wasn't impressed with either fighter, but certainly not with Pudzianowski. I want to like the guy. He looks like a freaking super hero. He just doesn't have it. He is Kimbo 2.0. It's not happening. End of story.
Khalidov was another story. Most fight fans/critics did not give Matt Lindland a chance in this one. They were right not to. Mamed Khalidov showed why he is one of the fastest rising stars in the sport by making quick work of Lindland. He completely overwhelmed him with strikes before he jumped to a standing guillotine, pulled Lindland to the ground, and then finished him there with that same guillotine. I understand the need to be cautiously excited in this instance. Lindland is very much on his way out. I still am very interested in seeing where things go from here for Khalidov. I hope his next fight will be for a bigger show. After his fight, I did hear the interviewer drop a "UFC" mention. Unfortunately, I don't speak Polish, so I don't know anything else about the conversation. If anyone has any input on that, I'd love to hear it.
All in all, it was an enjoyable card, and one of the better $3 purchases I've made in my career of purchasing things.
Follow me at @mmabuffet