Scott Askham has been reborn under the KSW banner banking three stoppage outings en route to claiming the promotion’s middleweight title since his arrival under the banner, but he isn’t ruling out challenging for a second KSW title in the future.
This weekend in Gliwice, Poland, the English middleweight will look to claim his biggest scalp to date when he takes on legendary European charge and former two-weight champion Mamed Khalidov, who has stepped out of retirement for the KSW 52 main event clash.
Although Askham is very aware of Khalidov’s legacy, he is confident that he has what it takes to make a statement on Saturday night.
“Khalidov has got some big names on his resumé,” Askham told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“He’s definitely the biggest star in Europe that has never been signed to the UFC…the only person who I can think of who is bigger and never went to the UFC is [Fedor Emelianenko]. [Khalidov] is always in those conversations. I’ve looked at the guy’s he’s beat and I can see why he’s got that status, but make no mistake about it, I’ve said it’s my time and it really is. I’m coming in here riding a four-fight win streak, the last three I’ve finished them all. I’m not underestimating anybody, I’ve just got total belief in myself. Where I’m at mentally, the gym I’m at…it’s just everything. I feel like it’s time to make a statement.”
Askham has looked a different fighter since his reemergence with the Polish promotion and believes he is capable of stopping Khalidov with strikes for the first time in over a decade based on his improvements with American Top Team.
“If I take Khalidov out…like a TKO…I’ve looked at this guy’s record and he’s not had a TKO [loss] since 2004. I was still watching MMA on Bravo back then,” he said, laughing.
“I wasn’t even training MMA back then, this guy has been around a long time. If you watch my style now compared to when I was in the UFC it’s just a totally different style. Steve Bruno has just made me a volume striker and he’s made me believe in myself – he’s made me a killer. I’m also happy about the last fight when I won the title and how it went because people got to see a bit more of my whole game. I feel like I’m a complete fighter now; fighting me over three rounds or five rounds is going to be dangerous. I’ve got a style that wins rounds and a style that takes people out as well. I feel like I’m getting those TKOs more because I’m not actually looking for them. I’m not looking to land with mass power in each shot but when they keep adding up it takes away your gas and it also wears and tears on you. That last fight showed that and ultimately I got the finish.”
With win over Khalidov, Askham will have effectively cleared out the middleweight division. Although he is aware of the apparent size difference between him and light heavyweight champion Tomasz Narkun, he insisted he would be open to the fight if he could come to an agreement with KSW.
“Narkun moved up to heavyweight for the [Philip De Fries] fight and I’m sure he weighed in at about 240 – that dude is a big guy. He’s a big f*cking dude, I’ve stood beside him…he’s a big dude. Ultimately, I’ll have to sit down with my management and I’m sure we’ll make the right decisions. For now, I’m a middleweight, when I fought Luke Barnett he was trying to get me to fight at light heavyweight, but I just told him, ‘I’m a middleweight.’ I’ve fought my whole career at middleweight, but money talks ultimately. Let’s get this win and we’ll take it form there,” he said.
“I would never rule it out, being a two-weight champion would be a massive achievement especially against a champion like Narkun. He’s been unstoppable in that light heavyweight division and brings different problems to solve as well.”
Check out Scott Askham’s interview on this week’s Eurobash. It begins at 22:30.