Many eyes will be on the Conor 'The Notorious' McGregor and Eddie 'The Underground King' Alvarez fight or even the Tyron 'The Chosen One' Woodley v Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson match at UFC 205, but one bout that could potentially steal the show at Madison Square Garden this Saturday is the all Polish affair between Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0) and Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0).
It has all the ingredients to be an absolute barnstormer of a contest; Jedrzejczyk will be making her fourth defence of the title after coming through two epic contests against Claudia Gadelha. But her opponent two years her senior has had a steady and progressive rise in the UFC and is supremely talented in her own right. So Saturday promises to be an exciting watch for all fight fans, and in particular Kowalkiewicz and Jedrzejczyk fans.
Kowalkiewicz will be hoping lightning doesn’t strike twice
The 31-year-old already has some shared history with the champion; back in 2012 they both fought each other at an amateur MMA fight, with Jedrzejczyk taking the win. But Kowalkiewicz will be hoping fate doesn’t repeat itself, and there’s a strong argument that the same outcome won’t happen again.
As mentioned, the Lodz born fighter has seriously come on since making her debut in UFC back in 2015, and her upcoming bout against Jedrzejczyk is testament to her rise and performances over the past year.
She has picked up impressive victories over Randa Markos and Heather Jo Clark, and then at UFC 201 she was involved in the fight of the night against American Rose Namajunas in which she won via unanimous decision – but that being said, her opponent will be unlike any she has faced previously.
She may not have knock-out power, but Kowalkiewicz is mightily efficient inside the Octagon
If you look at all of the women divisions there is not many that possess natural knock-out power; Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg, and Jedrzejczyk all have that ability to send someone crashing to the ground with that special punch, but when it comes to Kowalkiewicz game you couldn’t put her in that category. Kowalkiewicz is different, there’s no doubt about that.
The 31-year-old is different type of fighter compared to the ones mentioned above. She is efficient, but also dangerous at the same time, and over the rounds she is able to wear her opponents down. Kowalkiewicz proved this in her last fight against Namajunas, it was an accumulative process of hard knees and elbows in the clinch, and the odd well timed jab, and in the end it was enough for her to secure a decision victory.
It’s hard to see Kowalkiewicz knocking out the champion; but if she can make the fight ugly, and making sure she gets up close and personal in the clinch, she certainly has enough skills and power to cause what would be a huge upset.
Jedrzejczyk has star appeal which shows no sign of abating
The champion has proved time and time again that she is one of the most fearsome fighters in the women division. The 29-year-old just oozes star quality, and her skills inside the Octagon are as good as anyone at the moment.
She has the ability to flick the switch at a moment’s notice and punish her opponents, and with her kickboxing background it’s just one of the many weapons Jedrzejczyk utilises inside the octagon.
Speaking about her upcoming bout against her fellow compatriot, the champion said: “Karolina has some plans for our upcoming fight. But the thing is, I’m a different fighter, I’m a really tough fighter, and on the night of the fight I’m like the person from hell. So until the first punch she might have some game plan, but after that, not anymore.”
Jedzrejczyk’s explosive striking style could prove to be the difference maker at UFC 205
Along with her knock-out power and her kickboxing skills, the 29-year-old does boast a solid all round game. She can take the fight to her opponents in the clinch, and is not afraid to wrestle if she has – although saying that we haven’t really seen Jedzrejczyk in troublesome position on the floor, such has been her recent dominance.
But there is no doubting that her striking ability is one of the most deadly in all the women’s divisions, and if she get’s Kowalkiewicz where she wants her, it could be a difficult evening for the challenger.
Many can’t look past Jedzrejczyk successfully defending her strawweight title for a fourth time; but I sense an upset could be on the cards.
It is certainly not going to be easy for Kowalkiewicz, but if she can weather the early storm expected from the champion she certainly has enough ability to wear the champion down and produce similar moments to what she did in the Namajunas fight. That being said: Kowalkiewicz to win via unanimous decision.