The world’s arguably most entertaining MMA promotion returns for KSW 49 on Saturday night from Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. It will be the company’s third show so far this year and the card features recognisable names from top to bottom. A capacity crowd will be in attendance for the famous KSW live show experience that includes stunning visuals, memorable entrances and entertaining fights. In the evening’s co-main event, KSW Welterweight champion, Roberto Soldic (15-3), looks to defend his title against the undefeated, Krystian Kaszubowski (7-0).
Soldic won the title for the second time in October of last year when he defeated former two weight EFC champion, Dricus Du Plessis, who was the man who took it from him the first time they fought. He followed this up by taking a short notice bout at a 176 lbs catchweight against Vinicius Bohrer so the title wasn’t on the line. The 24 year old came out aggressive as always from the start, throwing big shots and it was clear that everything which landed hurt his opponent. Bohrer was extremely tough and took a lot of damage but couldn’t survive the monster of an overhand left that landed straight on his chin which Soldic uncorked near the end of the first round. When he fell to the mat, Bohrer’s head bounced off of the floor like a basketball and he became the victim of one of the most violent highlight reels in KSW history. After the bout, one of Soldic’s coaches told media that the man known as the ‘Robocop’ was nursing a bad injury during the fight which made his performance all the more impressive.
“For the Bohrer contest, I took the bout on short notice without a fight camp,” said Soldic. “Even though I didn’t have much time to train, I always believe in myself so I knew that I could finish him with another knockout and I did. For that fight I came in injured but now its all healed so I’m feeling very good. I’ve had almost six months to get ready for this one title defense so I am absolutely prepared!”
Most of the biggest stars in KSW are Polish due to the connection that they have with the domestic fans when competing in front of them. Soldic is originally from Bosnia so doesn’t have an immediate connection with crowds like many other fighters in the promotion do. However, he is one of the current most popular fighters in KSW as he gets big audience support for all of his bouts. It could well be the fact that he has an 87% knockout rate in his victories and always looks for the finish which has endeared him to Polish fans so much. Soldic is one of the hardest punching welterweights in the world, regardless of promotion, so fans do speculate how he would match up against the top athletes at 170 lbs in the major American promotions. However, for the moment he is content continuing to knock back any contenders KSW send his way.
“KSW fans give me so much support and respect,” explained Soldic. “It’s an amazing feeling hearing them cheer me on so I always try to be nice and humble to them. I am so thankful for everyone who supports me. KSW treat me so well and I always look forward to fighting for them so I am not thinking about any other organisation at the moment. This coming title defence is where all of my focus is right now.”
Soldic trains in Germany at UFD gym which is quickly becoming one of the most prominent gyms in Europe. Competing alongside him at KSW 49 are his teammates Erko Jun, Anton Racic and Martin Zawada who will all be hoping to end the night 4-0 as a gym. Jon Jones and Melvin Manhoef have both recently visited the team to offer advice and put in some work which shows how much the gym’s reputation is growing around the world. However, Soldic didn’t just stay in Germany for this camp as he travelled to Canada to train under Firas Zahabi at Tristar gym. This proved to be an invaluable experience for the ‘Robocop’ which has helped him elevate his game even further.
“UFD Gym is one of the best camps in Europe,” stated Soldic. “All of the guys that I train with work extremely hard and are very disciplined. I was also at Tristar at lot working for this fight so overall its been a great camp. When I was training in Canada, I worked on rounding out all areas of my game alongside stars like Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald which was amazing. I have learnt many new things after working with such tough sparring partners.”
One of the biggest rivalries in KSW over the past few years has been between Roberto Soldic and Dricus Du Plessis as they have both knocked out the other in their two meetings. Both fights were outstanding and filled with action which has left fans questioning if the two martial artists will complete the trilogy over the coming year. However, Soldic doesn’t seem particularly interested in meeting the South African for the third time and also believes that Du Plessis may not stick around at welterweight anymore.
“I don’t think about fighting Dricus again,” commented Soldic. “Everyone saw what happened in the rematch so there isn’t much else to prove. Also, I think he is moving up to middleweight so it’s possible that I ended the idea of him wanting to fight at welterweight again.”
The challenger to the welterweight throne on Saturday night is Krystian Kaszubowski who is making a big step up compared to the competition he has previously faced. The Polish fighter works a full time job when he isn’t in fight camp but his KSW career has got off to a stellar start by finishing his first two opponents in the first round by knockout, the last of which was Michal Michalski. Both fighters have finished every opponent they have defeated in KSW due to strikes which shows the type of fire-power on display in this one even though Soldic believes he is better than Kaszubowski’s seven opponents combined. KSW CEO, Martin Lewandowski, summed this clash up perfectly: ‘One will leave the cage with the title while the other will wake up laying on the floor.’
“Kaszubowski is a very dangerous opponent,” said Soldic. “However, I know that I am on a different level so I will be looking for the finish as always!”
KSW 49 can be purchased at kswtv.com on Saturday night where the show kicks off at 6pm BST.