KSW 16 will take place on Saturday, May 21st at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland at 8:00 PM CET (2:00 PM ET). The main event of the evening will feature a heavyweight tilt between former Strongman competitor Mariusz Pudzianowski and PRIDE veteran James Thompson. Pudzianowski enters the encounter following a victory over Eric "Butterbean" Esch at KSW 14 in September while Thompson rides a three-fight losing streak into Saturday with his most recent loss coming by way of split decision to Yusuke Kawaguchi.
More informed fans will likely pass on such an "epic" main event, but be eager to see Sengoku middleweight title contender Mamed Khalidov square off against Olympic wrestler and UFC veteran Matt Lindland. Khalidov defeated UFC veteran James Irvin in March at KSW 15 and punished Yuki Sasaki at World Victory Road: Soul of Fight in December. Lindland is 1-3 in his last four appearances, revealing a diminishing jaw with knockout losses to Vitor Belfort and Robbie Lawler while being outclassed on the ground by Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza.
BloodyElbow.com will bring you live results and commentary of KSW 16 on Saturday at 2:00 PM ET. The event will air live via pay-per-view online for fans, or on Polstat TV in Poland for those readers in the region. The PPV cost is $3 and can be purchased at the IPLA TV website. That's no typo. $3 bucks.
Heavyweight: Mariusz Pudzianowski vs. James Thompson: I won't sugarcoat this bout for fans. It isn't an enticing main event, but it should provide some comic relief for those looking for a primer for Bellator or perhaps a night out on the town. As most hardcore fans know, Pudzianowski has looked less than mediocre in his four career bouts in the sport. The most damning evidence against the idea that Pudzianowski could become a formidable foe in the heavyweight division was the loss to Tim Sylvia at Moosin: God of Martial Arts one year ago. Atrocious technical know-how on the feet coupled with a limited gas tank sunk the five-time World's Strongest Man, succumbing to strikes in the second round of action.
Thompson is by no means considered a mediocre fighter either, relegating himself to regional main events that have made him a stepping stone or spectacle rather than a legitimate challenger. He has amassed a 3-12-0-1 record in his last 16 appearances, losing by way of knockout in most of those contests.
Surprisingly, the lack of skills that Pudzianowski possesses could allow Thompson to escape this main event showdown with a victory. Thompson's wide open chin will more than likely leave him battered in this match-up however, and I have my doubts whether he can stop the takedown game of Pudzianowski. Pudzianowski should prevail on Saturday, but I doubt it will open any eyes. Pudzianowski via TKO.
Middleweight: Mamed Khalidov (20-4-2) vs. Matt Lindland (22-8): The true main event, in my mind, is the middleweight showdown between Khalidov and Lindland, but even that may be stretching the truth a bit. Lindland's 41-year-old body and recent slide would suggest that he's well past a phase in his career in which he can compete with younger fighters. Khalidov, who turns 31 in July, is no spring chicken either, but he is nearly a decade younger than Lindland and has the recent victories to prove he's one of the better middleweights in the world.
Lindland's gameplan will revolve around his wrestling game, working for the takedown and controlling Khalidov from the top while remaining active. With age comes a reduction in speed, and that's where Khalidov should have the advantage in this contest. Lindland will try to work his way to the clinch, but I'll bank on Khalidov making him pay with counter punches. Khalidov via TKO.
Light Heavyweight: Jan Błachowicz (12-2) vs. Toni Valtonen (24-11): Blachowicz was ranked at #5 on the 2011 World MMA Scouting Report back in January in the light heavyweight division. He had previously won nine straight fights when the report was published, knocking off notables Christian M'Pumbu, Maro Perak, and Daniel Tabera during the streak. Unfortunately, Blachowicz had a minor setback in March, quitting after the second round of action against UFC veteran Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. He'll make his first appearance since the loss, battling Finnish fighter Toni Valtonen.
Valtonen has won three consecutive bouts since October, knocking out both Sean Salmon and Samir Bourekba and going the distance against Lukasz Jurkowski in this last performance at KSW 15. He had previously lost to Mikhail Zayats and UFC veteran Jake O'Brien before the winning streak under the Finnish-based Fight Festival banner.
I don't forsee this being a difficult fight for Blachowicz to win. He has a solid understanding of how to use his reach to his advantage on the feet, and he's highly active on the floor in the transition game. I imagine he'll either catch Valtonen with a punch and impose his will on the ground, or bring the fight to the ground and do the same. Valtonen has proven in the past that he can be a sucker for a submission, and Blachowicz has a good enough grappling game to take advantage. Blachowicz via submission.
KSW 16 - Gdansk, Poland - Ergo Arena, Saturday, May 21
Mariusz Pudzianowski vs. James Thompson
Mamed Khalidov vs. Matt Lindland
Jan Błachowicz vs. Toni Valtonen
Michal Materla vs. James Zikic
Artur Sowinski vs. Cengiz Dana
Marcin Rozalski vs. Sergey Shemetov
Attila Vegh vs. Grigor Aschugbabjan