The rematch between Tomasz Narkun (16-2) and Mamed “Cannibal” Khalidov (34-6-2), headlining KSW 46, was unable to live up to the level of violence in their first meeting, but the drama swelled enough by the end of the third period to get the 15,000 in attendance to their feet.
Narkun, 28, ultimately capitalized on fleeting shifts in momentum to win a unanimous decision. The 38-year-old Khalidov came to a decision of his own, calling an end to his indelible career.
The action in Round 1 began tentatively. Memories from their first war left the air thick with tension as both men traded leg kicks. Then Khalidov discharged a clubbing left hand that floored Narkun.
The second period would be defined by a less memorable kind of shot from Khalidov. It was an eye poke that forced referee Marc Goddard to call timeout.
Back to work, Narkun commanded the center of the cage with push kicks. A salvo of punches brushed his man backwards. But under a minute left in Round 2, Khalidov caught a body kick before dragging the KSW light heavyweight champion to the canvas. Narkun didn’t receive much damage and soon after got up to chase Khalidov along the fence, closing out the round in top-position.
Round 3 proved to be pivotal. Khalidov buzzed around, visibly exhausted, and reluctant to charge in. Narkun, just as exhausted, hooked off a lazy jab. At the 3:30 mark, Khalidov slammed a kick into his man’s midsection before Narkun grabbed the leg and used it to take Khalidov to the canvas. A handful of punches from side control seemed to mark the end of the line for Khalidov.
Remarkably, however, Khalidov reversed the bigger man. Fans in attendance roared after seeing one last trick up the old man’s sleeve. Just 90 seconds to go, he only managed a few shots, dropping a couple elbows, while Narkun remained active off his back: attacking with submissions, urgently throwing up an armbar. Khalidov eventually jumped into a guillotine as Narkun postured back up but it was unsuccessful and found himself on his back when the fight came to a close.
The final sequence must’ve made an impression on the ringside panel, especially judge Ben Cartlidge, who scored the fight 30-27. Judges Leszek Pawlega and David Lethally each had it 29-28.
Narkun’s activity assured him the third period but that knockdown should’ve gave Khalidov the opening frame. The second round really belonged to anybody.
Khalidov was forced to again taste defeat to the only man to blemish his record going back to 2010. The whirling Polish fighter had lost just once in 34 fights before his gripping bout with Narkun in May.
In the cage after the fight, Khalidov thanked his team and waved to his fans before laying down his gloves. If it’s for good, he will be remembered as one of the sport’s most-beloved talents with a legacy defined not just by his winning ways but a barnburning style.
Narkun, far from the end of the line, is on the right side of 30 and moved to an impeccable 8-1—avenging that lone loss to Goran Reljic—since joining KSW. He gives the promotion huge expectations for 2019 and considering the evening’s co-main event, where 27-year-old Mateuesz “Gamer” Gamrot earned his second divisional title, a future stranglehold of the European MMA scene.