KSW 52: Scott Askham and Mamed Khalidov go ‘Fast and Furious’ ahead of main event clash

Saturday sees one of the most eagerly-anticipated fights in recent Polish MMA history when the country’s favorite fighting son, Mamed Khalidov, returns from retirement in a bid to defeat the man who has taken over his mantle at the top of KSW’s middleweight division.

Khalidov (34-6-2 MMA, 17-2-2 KSW) was rated by some analysts as the best middleweight outside the UFC during his six-year, 14-fight undefeated streak between 2011 and 2017. But his catchweight champion-vs.-champion matchups against light heavyweight belt-holder Tomasz Narkun in 2018 ended with back-to-back defeats as he suffered his first losses since 2010.

After his second defeat, Khalidov – who had already vacated his middleweight title earlier that summer – shocked his fans, and the MMA world, by laying his gloves down inside the cage and announcing his retirement from the sport. It saw one of the biggest stars in Polish MMA history walk away from the sport while still in his prime.

But Khalidov soon had second thoughts after seeing the reaction of his family, who were as shocked as the rest of the MMA world at his sudden decision to quit, and he started preparing for a comeback.

That comeback takes place Saturday in Gliwice, Poland, where he’ll take on the man who replaced him at the top of KSW’s middleweight division. Britain’s Scott Askham has been in the best form of his career since signing for the Polish promotion back in early 2018, and last time out captured the vacant KSW middleweight title.

A pair of crushing first-round body-kick finishes saw Askham (18-4 MMA, 3-0 KSW) make a spectacular impact in his first two appearances for the promotion as he finished former middleweight champion Michal Materla and former light heavyweight title challenger Marcin Wojcik in impressive fashion.

And when the Doncaster man finished Materla again – this time with a spectacular third-round flying knee – at KSW 49, Askham was crowned the KSW middleweight champion.

Now the English finisher will welcome former champion Khalidov back to the KSW cage in a non-title 187-pound catchweight clash at KSW 52. The event will be streamed live worldwide via online pay-per-view on KSWTV.com.

KSW likes to give each of their shows its own identity and the promotion has branded the upcoming event “The Race” and adopted a “Fast and the Furious” street-racing theme. The promotional video ahead of the middleweight title clash featured Askham and Khalidov revving the engines of a pair of supercars, while footage of their in-cage handiwork shows how they came to be matched up in Gliwice.

“If Khalidov vs Materla was the fight of the decade, then Khalidov vs. Askham has to be the fight of the century,”KSW co-founder Martin Lewandowski said, while defending champ Askham admitted that the fight is undoubtedly one of the biggest of his career.

“Mamed’s probably the second best middleweight of all time in Europe (and) people are talking (about this being) the best fight in Europe, ever. They’re great conversations to be in,” he said. “I can fill his shoes, 100 percent.”

“He cannot fill my shoes as his feet are too small,” said Khalidov in response. “Everybody writes his own history. I feel I’ve already left my mark. That’s my history and he can’t take it away from me.”

With 30 of his 34 career wins coming inside the distance, Khalidov is as dangerous a finisher as you’ll find at 185 pounds, while Askham (14 finishes from 18 wins) has a formidable finish rate of his own, and hasn’t troubled the judges since joining KSW.

It all adds up to a fascinating clash between two of the best middleweights in Europe, and the reigning champion warned to expect fireworks on Saturday night.

“It’s time to make a statement,” said Askham. “I know I can put anyone away with the body kick, and he can put anyone away with the right hand. Be prepared for everything.”

The KSW 52 fight card includes:

  • Scott Askham vs. Mamed Khalidov – non-title main event
  • Damian Janikowski vs. Szymon Kolecki
  • Champion Salahdine Parnasse vs. Ivan Buchinger – for interim featherweight title
  • Grzegorz Szulakowski vs.  Shamil Musaev
  • Karolina Owczarz vs. Aleksandra Rola
  • Artur Sowinski vs. Vinicius Bohrer
  • Michal Michalski vs. Albert Odzimkowski
  • Maciej Kazieczko vs. Michael Dubois
  • Michal Wlodarek vs. Srdan Marovic

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