Polish Corner: Six Things That Should Have Happened In Polish MMA (but, sadly, have not)

The world of Polish MMA is rather fascinating  – it is so unique, that no other country can be compared when it comes to anecdotes, stories or events. That is why I am now starting the “Polish Corner” – a non-cyclic series of articles about our beautiful sport.

To kick it off – here are six things that should have happened at some point in Polish MMA, but – sadly – have not.

Pawel Nastula has never walked out to “Randori” by Peja

Pawel Nastula is a legend when it comes to Martial Arts in Poland. He’s an Olympic Gold medalist in Judo, and in Polish Judoka he was unbeaten for 1220 days, winning 312 consecutive fights. He also the only Pole to ever compete in the legendary Pride Fighting Championship, where he fought MMA legends like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Alexander Emelianenko or Josh Barnett. Despite losing against them, he showed a lot of heart and skill.

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Ryszard “Peja” Andrzejewski is a Polish Rapper, who was a two time Polish Youth Judo Champion in 1991 and again in 1992. Peja wrote a song about his years as a Judoka – ‘Randori’

When Paweł Nastula announced that Peja will walk him out to the KSW ring at KSW 22, everyone speculated that “Randori” will be his song of choice. It would be a legitimately legendary moment, as a heroic Judo Fighter would walkout to a song about Judo. Sadly, this never happened. Nastula chose “Na Dnie” (PL. On the bottom of life”) song.

Krzysztof Jotko opted to use the ‘Randori’ song for his walkouts at the beginning of his UFC career.

Mateusz Gamrot never fought in ACB/ACA

Mateusz Gamrot is currently the KSW Lightweight and Featherweight Champion as well as 2019 ADCC European gold medalist. “Gamer” spent most of his career under the KSW banner, fighting only 4 times for other promotions – his first three bouts were for Night of Champions and for Cage Warriors in 2014.

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After defeating Marif Piraev in 2015, Gamrot accused all Russian fighters of being ‘cans’ and claimed that he can beat all of them all day. Due to his claims, he got a response from Maribek Khasiev – owner of Absolute Chapionship Berkut – one of the biggest promotions in Russia. Khasiev offered Gamrot a fight so he could verify his statement. “Gamer” declined the offer and up to this day he has not fought outside the KSW cage.

Mariusz Pudzianowski never fought in PRIDE

Ok, this entry is based on an mmapunch.pl blog post. The guy who made the site building alot of curiosity about Polish MMA so give this man some applause for building the sports reputation and follow his Facebook page.

Back to the topic at hand. In 2007 Mariusz Pudzianowski – 5 time worlds strongest man – was offered a fight in the legendary Pride Fighting Championship. Because Pride was shut down that year, the Polish strong man never received a chance to compete in the notorious Saitama Super Arena. If a bout would have materialised, Mariusz would have became the second Polish fighter to ever compete in Pride FC, besides Pawel Nastula.

The Chmielewski Vs. Jurkowski trilogy didn’t happen at KSW: Colosseum

This entry is so personal to me, yet for me it is another missed opportunity for a great historical moment.

All the way back in 2004, Lukasz Jurkowski became the first KSW tournament champion. He originated from Taekwondo, “Juras” was a heavy favorite in his second KSW tournament. He quickly knocked out Pawel Zalewski and submitted Tomasz Stanclik to face Antoni Chmielewski – Polish Judo fighter. To everyones surprise, Chmielewski pulled off the unthinkable upset and submitted Jurkowski easily via triangle choke, to win the second tournament.

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Jurkowski and Chmielewski met again, this time in the finale of KSWs third tournament. And again, Juras tapped from a submission – this time it was an Ezekiel choke that cost him.

The trilogy match was discussed from time to time, but it never seemed likely to happen. In 2011, Jurkowski retired from MMA and focused on commentating on MMA fights for Polsat Television. Chmielewski proceeded with his career, where he became the gatekeeper for the European middleweight division.

In 2017, Jurkowski returned from his retirement, to once again fight on the Colosseum card – AKA the biggest event in Europe. KSW was looking for a proper opponent for Juras. Fans wanted a trilogy match with Chmielewski, who was 2-2 in last four bouts back then. Martin Lewandowski and Maciej Kawulski did not want to fulfil the trilogy between pioneers of polish MMA. They decided to book Jurkowski against PRIDE and UFC veteran, Rameau Sokoudjou.

Khalidov vs Drwal never happened

Tomasz Drwal is an utter legend. The first Pole to ever compete in the UFC, the first Pole to win a post fight bonus, and unbeaten to this day by any other polish fighter – “Gorilla” is respected in Poland in a way that any other fighter will never be. For years it was topic of discussion, if Tomasz Drwal could beat the KSW superstar – Mamed Khalidov.

These two were scheduled to fight twice. Before KSW 21 everything suggested that those two great fighters will fight, as Khalidov mentions in the trailer that “There is a debate if he can beat me”. Unfortunately, Drwal parted ways with KSW, as he was not happy with the offer.

Two years later, Drwal signed with KSW and the highly anticipated fight with Mamed was on the brink of happening at KSW 29. But a month before the event, the gods of MMA said “F**k no!” and Drwal injured his back.

To hype this potential match-up with Khalidov, KSW owners decided to set a title match between middleweight champion and well known brawler Michal Materla and Tomasz Drwal on KSW 31. If their perfect plan succeeded, Khalidov would face Tomasz Drwal in a title match. But this idea was soon spoiled when Drwal was TKO’ed by Materla in the third round of their fight.

By 2019, Tomasz Drwal has not fought since the Materla bout and Mamed Khalidov is officially retired. There is almost no chance that we ever see this match-up in the near future.

Mamed Khalidov never fought in the UFC

If I could name one moment that should have happened but never did, it would be Khalidov fighting under the UFC banner. The Chechen was close to signing with the world leading MMA organization in 2012, after beating Rodney Wallace early in the first round. After this tremendous knockout, Khalidov took the microphone and asked KSW owners for a contract with the UFC or any other big US promotion. Back then, all three USA biggest companies – UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator – wanted Khalidov under their banner.

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According to Pawel Kowalik – an  Ex-MMA journalist – Khalidov wanted to deal with the UFC, but their financial offer was not satisfying enough for the Chechen. Therefore, Mamed wanted to sing a deal with Strikeforce. But when the organization closed early in 2013, it destroyed Khalidov’s plans. He decided to stay in KSW.

Until his retirement in December of 2018, Khalidov was always on a list of fighters, who should have competed in the UFC, but never did. Unfortunately, we have never had an opportunity to watch this great fighter compete outside of Poland.