Salahdine Panrasse is one of the hottest young prospects in mixed martial arts, and on Saturday, he gets an opportunity to underline his ever-growing status by claiming KSW’s interim featherweight title when he clashes with Roman Szymanski in Lublin, Poland.
Training since the age of 11, from his first days in the gym he had his heart set on going pro. Although he idolized Jose Aldo when he began his martial arts journey, it was clear from the start that Parnasse had his own unique style and a flair for the spectacular that even his most celebrated training partners couldn’t ignore.
Tom Duquesnoy was the great European hope for many years during his reign over BAMMA’s featherweight, and later, bantamweight divisions. After Parnasse debuted under the KSW at 20 years old, “Firekid” believed that it was only a matter of time before he became one of the best fighters in the world.
“He’s going to be a top 10 fighter within the next few years,” Duquesnoy told MMA Fighting.
“He’s so young and so impressive — he’s at a really high level already. He is only 20 years old now, so that forces me to recognize that he has a huge future in the sport.”
Parnasse had heard of the KSW brand before he signed, but he didn’t regularly consume the product. Fans and media have been blown away by how he has been able to overcome all of his promotional opponents at this point—Lukasz Rajewski, former champion Artur Sowinski and TUF veteran Marcin Wrzosek—but for Parnasse, it was expected.
“I expected all of these victories,” he told MMA Fighting through a translator ahead of KSW 48. “I was training really well, all of my training camps went really great. KSW were great to make these fights happen, especially with some of these opponents.”
While he may still be floating under the radar in the U.S., back home in France, his last win opened him up to a whole new audience, but he insists that he doesn’t feel any addition pressure from his growing stock.
“Ever since the last victory, since my record improved to 12-0, I started to become a lot more famous in France. I don’t think it puts any pressure on me, I don’t worry about it, I think it helps me fight even greater.”
It’s clear that Parnasse has respect for his main event counterpart, Syzmanski, but he envisages a gulf in class when it comes to the striking exchanges.
“He’s very good at ground fighting, but his standup is more like dirty boxing,” Parnasse said. “I don’t know if I’ll win by knockout because I’m not a very hard puncher, but I know I’ll win and I think my striking will lead me to victory.”
Parnasse claims he works every day with the desire of becoming the greatest fighter in the world propelling him through his sessions. There will undoubtedly be even more attention should he have one of the top European promotion’s belts wrapped around his waist, and of course, it will also put him in line to fight one of the best fighters to ever grace the KSW cage, featherweight and lightweight champion, Mateusz Gamrot.
Although he will have to get passed Szymanski before he can fully contemplate the threats “Gamer” brings to the forefront, he knows he will have a “challenge” on his hands should to fight ever come to fruition.
“I’m not really thinking about the interim belt this is just another fight for me. I don’t really think about whether I should be fighting Gamrot or not. All I know is, he’s a multi-division champ who only fights two times a year. He already won the featherweight title early this year and his next fight will be a defense of his lightweight title,” he explained.
“I am ready to fight him, but the promotion are the only people who can make the fight. If the promotion wants to make the fight, I will fight. I think it would be a challenge, [Gamrot] is a really good fighter. I think it would be a really exciting fight if they could make it happen.”
(Editor’s note: Quotes in this article have been edited for clarity and concision.)