This weekend will be a busy one for European MMA, as two of the biggest promotions are putting on shows almost simultaneously. KSW doesn’t necessarily put on the most relevant fights, but they make quite the spectacle of MMA, and have used a stable of Polish fighters to gain enough of a foothold in the market that the UFC has noticed the popularity and will be heading to Poland this year. Often times, KSW cards are headlined by the likes of Mariusz Pudzianowski and Mamed Khalidov, but at KSW 26 Michal Materla (19-4) gets his chance at the top of the card, as he looks to close out his trilogy with Jay Silva (9-8) in a positive way. After a close bout in May 2012 which resulted in a majority decision for Materla, Silva turned the tables last September and knocked out the massive Polish favorite in their second encounter. Needless to say, Materla will not be quite as big a favorite this time around. Continuing the trend of fighters repeating a meeting, the co-main event between Anzor Azhiev (4-0, 1 NC) and Artur Sowinski (13-7, 2 NC) is a rematch of their no contest from last year. An accidental clash of heads brought a halt to that bout, and hopefully we get an actual result this time around. Azhiev is viewed as one of the better prospects in Poland right now, while Sowinski has settled into a bit of a gatekeeper role, as all of the fighters who have beaten him recently have also ended up at a higher level at some point. Another interesting bout on the card features UFC veteran Goran Reljic (12-4) — another fighter who has only faltered at the next level — taking on former heavyweight Karol Celinski (11-4-1) in a 205lb clash. Reljic looked like he was going to be something in the UFC at one point, but performed worse after dropping to middleweight and could never regain his footing in the organization. Since being cut by the UFC, Reljic’s only loss came to a fighter who recently signed to compete in the Octagon, Jan Blachowicz. Meanwhile, Celinski has been in with the likes of Vitaly Minakov and Daniel Omielanczuk in his career. Finally, a female prospect and a woman who could be her mother make for an intriguing bout on the undercard. Iryna Shaparenko (5-0) had her first pro MMA bout (and victory) just two weeks after her 18th birthday. She then proceeded to win four additional bouts before the end of 2013. Still just 18, she looks to continue her success against Kamila Porczyk (1-0) who despite being twice her opponent’s age, only has one fight to her credit. It’s hard to call this a youth vs. experience fight, but it should be interesting nonetheless. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for KSW 26 at Several Bookmakers today. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD Michal Materla -280 Jay Silva +200 Anzor Azhiev -350 Artur Sowinski +250 Goran Reljic -210 Karol Celinski +160 Iryna Shaparenko -135 Kamila Porczyk -105 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: It’s hard to ever recommend a play on Jay Silva given his relative lack of skills, but for whatever reason he’s proven to be a terrible matchup for Michal Materla. Having personally been burned by having Materla in several parlays last time out, I’m just going to say stay away from him unless the line drops below -200. He’s the better fighter in every area here, and should have extra motivation to put Silva away, but sometimes the styles just align and all those other factors don’t matter. Anzor Azhiev was a -280 favorite when the odds closed for this matchup the first time around, and I thought it was justified. He’s the much better wrestler here and has a good combination of control and ground and pound. In addition he flashed some power in his last bout. Sowinski has a well-rounded game, but is a bit deficient in his submission defense. While I don’t see Azhiev taking advantage of that, I think the wrestling will be the big difference in this one. Despite washing out of the UFC, Goran Reljic is a solid fighter. He’s got some dangerous striking, and moves pretty well on the ground. He’s also going to be one of the best fighters Celinski has ever fought, and Celinski has faltered against his biggest tests thus far. I think Reljic is going to be too technical in every area, and as long as Celinski doesn’t have too much of a size advantage, those skills should shine through. I have literally never seen either one of these women compete, so disregard this breakdown, but I think this fight really comes down to one fact: Ukraine is strong. Also, Shaparenko has a massive age advantage and could have a career in this sport ahead of her, that should make her the hungrier fighter in this spot, but I couldn’t trust this with monopoly money.