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KSW boss hoping for ‘cooperation’ from Cage Warriors and BAMMA ahead of Dublin debut

Courtesy of KSW

On Monday morning, KSW announced that a rematch between Mateusz Gamrot and Norman Parke would headline their Irish debut, KSW 40, at Dublin’s 3 Arena on Sunday, Oct. 22.

The first meeting between the two came at the record-breaking KSW 39: Colosseum at Poland’s national stadium in May, ending in a controversial decision for the Polish lightweight champion. The first fight was contested over three rounds, but in Dublin, the lightweight championship will be decided over five rounds.

KSW reported that they broke the UFC’s attendance record on the night of the ‘Colosseum’ event, with 57,766 spectators packed into a venue that reaches its official capacity at 58,145.

With the promotion’s brand in a stronger place than ever following the gargantuan card, KSW CEO and co-founder, Martin Lewandowski, believes it’s the perfect time for expansion.

From 2018 onwards, KSW hopes to put on annual events in England.

Following the success of KSW 32 at London’s Wembley Arena back in 2015, which boasted nearly 10,000 fans in attendance on the night, Lewandowski claimed that Dublin could also become a future annual visit for the promotion based on the success of their first event in Ireland.

“I don’t really want to make that commitment without having witnessed the first show in Dublin, but I strongly believe the Dublin show will go very well,” Lewandowski told MMA Fighting.

“We have already sold 1,500 tickets in the first day and a half, so that’s a very promising sign. Again, I don’t want to make any commitment before the show has taken place, but I do believe that Ireland is the type of place that could become a second home for KSW, along with England.

“We would like to get it to the stage where we’re putting on one show in England and one show in Ireland every year, on top of our shows in Poland.”

Gamrot and Parke seem to be the perfect men to place at the top of the bill in Ireland due to the great debate that their first meeting stirred among Irish and Polish fans.

Gamrot, widely considered the best European lightweight outside of the UFC, met his toughest test against UFC veteran Parke. For many fans, Parke had done enough to get the nod on the night.

After winning the close decision, Gamrot was at the center of a biting controversy, which Parke alerted the referee to during the fight, and again after the fight in a post from his official Instagram account.

While Lewandowski saw the bout as a clear win for Gamrot, he believes that the controversy and conversation the first clash generated made it an obvious headline meeting for the 3 Arena date.

“Honestly speaking, I do think Gamrot won, but that was the hardest fight he ever had. That’s the way most people are thinking about the fight in Poland,” he said.

“The controversy with the fingers in the mouth has been a subject of a lot of talk over here too. Gamrot is saying that Parke purposely put his own fingers into his mouth. On the other hand, Parke is saying that Gamrot has deliberately bitten him.

“From a marketing point of view, and from my own point of view, this is the fight that had to happen. Everybody wants to see this again, and because of everything that’s happened, I think we will definitely see the best of these two warriors on Oct. 22.”

Lewandowski welcomed all of the talking points that came from the KSW 39 card, but allegations that the Gamrot vs. Parke decision was fixed to see a Polish fighter win in front of his home crowd hit a nerve. Having gone to great lengths to have judges from outside of Poland score KSW fights, the CEO wants to put the talk of bias towards Poles to bed.

“This is bullsh*t,” Lewandowski said.

“I have never protected my champions or any of my fighters. I just want to see really good fights because I’m spending a lot of money to make these fights happen. I don’t want to have any lousy fighters on my team, so there is no way I want to protect any fighters.

“A couple of years ago I realized that I need to bring in more international judges and since then I have brought in different judges from all around the world.

“In Ireland, we’re going to use some referees from Ireland. I’m hoping to have Marc Goddard at the show too. I just want to make everyone comfortable that there are no tricks going on here when it comes to fight night.”

Ireland boasts a Polish population of 122,515 according to the 2016 national census. Lewandowski has long argued that KSW is a bigger MMA brand than the UFC in Poland. With that in mind, he expects Polish fans to make up at least 60 percent of the spectators at KSW 40 in Dublin.

However, Lewandowski has always prided himself on giving the fans what they want, and for that reason, he still hopes to secure three of four more Irish fighters for action on the night.

“I wish to have at least three, maybe four, more Irish fighters. Without going into too many details, we have already started talking to some fighters. We should be announcing more and more fights as the event gets closer,” he said.

Cage Warriors and BAMMA are the most prominent promotions in the UK and Ireland market outside of the UFC and Bellator. Some might consider KSW a rival of both promotions as they look to expand into the region, but Lewandowski is hoping for cooperation from both promotions ahead of his first Irish event.

“Of course, my goal is to be the strongest European brand, but I don’t want to compete with BAMMA and Cage Warriors in their own lands,” he said.

“I want to cooperate with them, and that’s what I’m actually doing at the moment. I’m already speaking to David Green (BAMMA CEO) and Graham Boylan (Cage Warriors President).

“Again, I don’t see this as a competition thing. I won’t chase down the fighters that they want to sign. I understand this situation from their point of view too.

“We are not massive brands like the UFC, so we need to find a solution by working together. By working together we can do a lot more than if we are causing trouble for each other.”

Lewandowski hopes to start a fighter exchange with both BAMMA and Cage Warriors. Whether a situation like that can occur remains in the hands of Green and Boylan.

“It’s going to come down to what Cage Warriors and BAMMA want to do. I’ll be in England in September to speak to everyone that’s involved. As I said, I’m very open to cooperate with both of these promotions,” he explained.

“It’s not only that they will help me by allowing their fighters to compete on a KSW card in Dublin, I would help them in return by allowing them access to my fighters.

“If BAMMA or Cage Warriors want access to some of my fighters for one of their shows, that would be something that I would be willing to do, provided that the fighter is not already needed for an upcoming KSW show.

“Of course, maybe the situation is tricky now because we are going to Dublin three weeks before BAMMA is set to have a card in the same venue. Of course, I have already spoken to David (Green) about this. I have tried to move the date, but I couldn’t.

“The date we have booked is the only say 3 Arena had in that half of the year, so I had to take it or wait another year.”

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