The heartbeat of MMA will be beating tomorrow in Warsaw, Poland, as KSW runs its highly anticipated Colosseum 2 event.

Taking place in a soccer stadium, nearly 45,000 tickets have been sold, and the hope internally is that the final number will approach 50,000,

The card features Mamed Khalidov in a trilogy bout against Scott Askham. Five-time World’s Strongest Man Mariusz Pudzianowski will compete in a heavyweight bout against former WBC heavyweight contender Artur Szpilka, and there should be plenty of action—and violence—in the 11 fights scheduled for Colosseum 2.

In the co-main, the undisputed KSW lightweight title is at stake, with lightweight champ Marian Ziolkowski battling interim title holder Salahdine Parnasse. The vacant middleweight title is on the line in a bout pitting Pawel Pawlak against Tomasz Romanowski, while Jakub Wiklacz and Werlleson Martins compete for the bantamweight title. The match is available to stream around the world, and North American fans can watch the event live on or on the KSW app starting tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET.

Khalidov has crafted an extraordinary career. He split his first two bouts against Askham, and this third and decisive fight will cap off a marvelous series.

“The first fight, my confidence was low,” says Khalidov, who lost to Askham in 2019. “I was coming off the first two losses in my KSW career. Scott is a great fighter, but in that first fight I felt like I should have won going into it. After losing, it ignited something in me. I regained that fire and brought it into the second fight.”

A number of KSW fighters—like Jan Blachowicz, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Alexander Gustafsson—have gone on to star in the UFC. The promotion was founded in 2004 by Martin Lewandowski and Maciej Kawulski. Speaking with Sports Illustrated about the qualities that make KSW so distinct, Lewandowski details the promotion’s attention to its production values.

“We like to mix sports and entertainment with special opening ceremonies and huge, large-scale walkouts,” says Lewandowski. “This presents the fighters in such a way that you can really get invested in them when you are watching—giving fighters that special attention and introduction just elevates the whole show. While inside the cage, KSW is home to a nice blend of high-quality martial artists, some fun and interesting matchups, and larger-than-life people.”

Lewandowski long had an interest in martial arts, even training in different disciplines that ranged from kung fu to boxing and kickboxing. He coupled that affinity for MMA with a background in economics and background in a hotel group, and he was able to merge his passions when he launched KSW in 2004.

“I always wanted to combine my business acumen with my passion for martial arts, and the opportunity presented itself when I met my business partner, Maciej Kawulski, in the early 2000s,” says Lewandowski. “We bonded over the same interests, and we decided to launch KSW with the first event taking place in 2004 in a hotel function room with only 300 people in attendance.”

Lewandowski and Kawulski are building an empire in KSW. They have signed significant television deals, as well as held international events in Ireland, Croatia, Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

“Thinking back, you can see the progression from our small first event in 2004 to doing KSW Colosseum 1 in 2017,” says Lewandowski, speaking of KSW’s first stadium show. “However, my proudest moment is seeing my daughters love for MMA and martial arts grow through my work in KSW. That brings me a lot of joy.”

This Colosseum card was captivating to book, beginning with the decision to hold another stadium event. It was supposed to have already happened, but the pandemic temporarily halted those ideas.

“It is hard to single out just one or two fights, but the three title fights stand out to this one for me,” says Lewandowski. “Each title fight involves some insane talent. The undisputed KSW lightweight title will be decided, the vacant KSW middleweight championship–which is our most prestigious title–is up for grabs, and there is an exciting battle for the KSW bantamweight title.”

While it is not yet a certainty, Lewandowski shared that there is a real possibility that KSW could soon arrive in the United States.

“I have thought long and hard about an event in the United States,” says Lewandowski. “There is a lot of paperwork for such moves–and it would be extremely costly. If we were to do it, it wouldn’t be to take over the US market, but rather to showcase ourselves to fight fans there. We would also need to be smart about which state we would enter and, of course, have the right fighters. Thankfully though, due to our fighters and our product, we have a continuously growing fanbase in the United States. So this has already given us a solid foundation. But for now, it is only on the drawing board.”

Far away from the US, Colosseum 2 is readily available to watch. The event has the potential to be spectacular, furthering interest from viewers in America.

“If anyone wants to feel goosebumps and excitement while watching an MMA event, then they better tune in,” says Lewandowski. “It’s truly an event like no other in modern MMA and gives fight fans something different than what they are used to.

“This is the pinnacle event for MMA in Europe, and one of the biggest events of all time in the sport.”

Jailton Almeida has chance to reach new heights

Jailton Almeida is experiencing his rise in the UFC. Curtis Blaydes is beginning his fall.

The fall for Blaydes is from the upper echelon of the heavyweight division. That is exactly where Almeida is headed. If Almeida gets the opportunity to fight Blaydes, it opens a whole new world of opportunity for him.

First reported by Nolan King and Mike Bohn, the fight would headline UFC’s return to Brazil on Nov. 4 in San Paulo. Almeida (19-2) is on a tear, most recently dominating Jairzinho Rozenstruik, but he has not yet had the chance to fight the top of the division. Blaydes (17-4) is coming off a humbling loss to Sergei Pavlovich, who is currently the most intriguing heavyweight not named Jon Jones or Stipe Miocic. But after Pavlovich comes Almeida, who suffocates opponents with a ground approach that strips strikers of their strengths.

Almeida believes he can strike at an elite level, too. Perhaps he will have the chance to do so in his home country against Blaydes.

The Pick ‘Em Section:

UFC on ESPN flyweight bout: Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi

Pick: Kai Kara-France

UFC on ESPN featherweight bout: Daniel Pineda vs. Alex Caceres

Pick: Alex Caceres

UFC on ESPN lightweight bout: Jim Miller vs. Jared Gordon

Pick: Jim Miller

KSW 83: Colosseum 2 middleweight bout: Mamed Khalidov vs. Scott Askham

Pick: Mamed Khalidov

KSW 83: Colosseum 2 vacant middleweight title bout: Pawel Pawlak vs. Tomasz Romanowski

Pick: Tomasz Romanowski

Last week: 3-2

2023 record: 52-37

Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.