With a drastically reduced MMA schedule over the next few months expected, Bloody Elbow’s European MMA writer, Scott Lagdon, is diving down into the archives to highlight some of the wildest, weirdest and most fun fights from the continent that MMA fans may have missed out on. Whether it’s looking at the early careers of fighters who would go on to become international stars, or some hidden fight of the year candidates BE will have fans covered!
With a wealth of long-running promotions across Europe regularly putting on highly entertaining contests over the years, there’s tons to choose from. So, let us know if there’s anything that deserves a little extra attention.
Fight (with records at the time): Tomasz Narkun (14-2) v Mamed Khalidov (34-4-2) - Catchweight (203lbs)
Event: KSW 42 in Lodz, Poland
Date: March 3rd 2018
With both men having cleaned out their respective divisions, a champion v champion super fight took centre stage at a catchweight of 203lbs to kick off KSW’s 2018 schedule. Light heavyweight champion, Tomasz Narkun, had held the belt for two and a half years after he defeated UFC veteran, Goran Reljic, by first round knockout to capture the gold. Polish MMA icon and then middleweight champion, Mamed Khalidov, hadn’t been beaten in eight years in which he’d reeled off 14 straight wins. Khalidov, who is widely considered to be one of the best European fighters to never fight in the UFC, was coming off of another champion v champion clash where he defeated welterweight title holder, Borys Mankowski, by unanimous decision in front of 58,000 fans at KSW 39: Colosseum.
After just one minute into the first round, a big right hand dropped Narkun to the mat but Khalidov didn’t follow him down to the ground. Khalidov let his opponent back to his feet but another right hand sent Narkun crashing to the canvas once again almost immediately. This time, Khalidov briefly went into Narkun’s guard before standing up so the rest of the round could play out standing. It was clear Khalidov was wary of spending too long in Narkun’s guard so proceeded to throw more right hands until the bell ending the round was rung.
Both men got off strikes at the start of the second frame and Narkun began utilising leg kicks really well. Khalidov returned some of his own before Narkun went high but the middleweight champion ducked successfully. Narkun pursued Khalidov more aggressively as time progressed while Khalidov evaded many of the shots coming his way.
At the start of the last round, Narkun landed a right hand which appeared to stun Khalidov. He rushed in with a flying knee attempt with Khalidov backed up against the cage and was successful with knees in the clinch. Khalidov fired off a combination of his own and caught a kick to take Narkun down to the mat, straight into his guard. Almost immediately, Narkun locked up a triangle choke and the tap came very quickly after.
Narkun had ended his opponent’s eight year unbeaten run and claimed arguably the biggest win of his career in the process. The light heavyweight champion admitted he had always been a big fan of Khalidov and was always impressed at how he finished many of his opponents during his illustrious career.
“One time when my friend and I had just watched Mamed win emphatically in KSW, I said that in the future I would fight him and beat him,” recalled Narkun. “My friend thought I was crazy but that prediction came true.”
“All of those years later, I was delighted when I found out my dream had come true and I was able to challenge myself against Mamed,” continued Narkun. “However, I knew it would be a very difficult task and many fans would be on his side. I had to be prepared not only physically but more importantly, mentally.”
“Just as I had thought, Mamed was the best version of himself in that fight. He really wanted to hurt me and get the victory! During the first round, he knocked me down twice but that only made me more angry. The second was more balanced but before we started the final round my corner told me that it would be difficult to win on points. I knew what I had to do. No matter what, I had to finish the fight!”
“It was a great feeling when I got the victory and that bout made me realise that there are no limits to what you can achieve unless you put them on yourself. There are so many aspects of that fight which the fans loved as it had knockdowns, drama and strong emotions running throughout. We both left our hearts in the cage and everyone appreciated that.”
Due to Khalidov suffering defeat for the first time in so long, the promotion booked an immediate rematch eight months later. In the second meeting between the pair, Narkun won a unanimous decision to prove that his initial victory was no fluke.
Khalidov announced his retirement after losing to Narkun once again but ended his hiatus from the sport a year later when he returned to face middleweight champion, Scott Askham. He couldn’t get back in the win column as the Englishman claimed a unanimous decision victory, extending his losing run to three.
After defeating Khalidov for the second time, Narkun moved up a division to challenge heavyweight title holder, Phil De Fries, in another super fight. He was unsuccessful trying to become a simultaneous two-weight champion as he dropped a unanimous decision, consequently losing a bout for the first time since 2014. Narkun rebounded straight away when he returned to the light heavyweight division at KSW 50 and defended his belt by beating TUF veteran, Przemyslaw Mysiala, by first round submission.