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Welcome to the UFC, Kowalkiewicz & Grabowski

Two top Polish fighters are on their way to the UFC, where they'll bolster two of the promotion's thinnest divisions, strawweight and heavyweight.

A couple of strong signings for the UFC today, as the promotion looks like it's really taking a serious look at one of the major developing hotbeds of MMA talent in the world, Poland. First up is the announcement, via, that the UFC has signed one of the very best 115 lb women fighting outside the Promotion: former KSW strawweight champion and undefeated prospect Karolina Kowalkiewicz is expected to make her UFC debut later this year. Joining her under the Zuffa umbrella is a somewhat expected (if a bit delayed) announcement of the signing of Polish heavyweight Damian Grabowski. Grabowski's UFC contract was first suspected when his name ended up on a Reebok jersey during the UFC's sponsor roll-out event. Grabowski denied that any contract was set, but here we are just a couple months later and his manager is finally going public with the news. MMAFighting reports that no date or opponent has been set at the moment. So...

Who is Karolina Kowalkiewicz?

The 29-year old Polish fighter trains out of Gracie Barra Lodz alongside the UFC's Pawel Pawlak and regional talents Kamil Symuszowski, Wiktor Sobczyk, Marcin Lasota, and Adam Zajac. It's a big gym with a reputation for producing well rounded fighters. Kowalkiewicz is making the jump to the UFC with an undefeated 7-0 record having grabbed notable wins over Mizuki Inoue at Invicta FC 9 and Kalindra Faria at KSW 30. Otherwise, her level of competition isn't terrible, but about what you'd expect for regional WMMA. Outside of the cage she started her martial arts career in Krav Maga and apparently has trained as a movie stunt-woman

What should you expect:

Standing at just 5' 3" Kowalkiewicz isn't quite undersized at strawweight, but she's not a dominating physical force either. She's got a very strong kicking game and consistent combination boxing game that serve as the backbone of her fighting style. She does a very good job mixing her leg kicks with her punches and can catch opponents at unexpected angles when she's really clicking. She doesn't have quite the fastest hands in the world and keeps her head on line too much, but she digs to the body nicely, and exits on angles well to keep herself from getting hit on the end of counters too often. Her clinch game is more stifling than overwhelming and she's not an excellent wrestler, but she's got a strong grappling game rarely puts herself in trouble on the ground. Because of her lack of power I'm not sure how much of a threat to top competition she can be just on her striking alone, but she has the kind of skill to grab a spot in the top 10 and hold on to it for a while.

Unfortunately with KSW's lockdown on her fights the only tape I can show you is her pro debut from 2012 (Kowalkiewicz is in the black):

Who is Damian Grabowski?

The UFC's second new heavyweight signing is 35-year old Damian Grabowski. The long time regional European heavyweight and former Bellator tournament competitor most recently completed a four fight stint under M-1 Global, going 3-1 with the promotion and taking the heavyweight title in the process. His lone loss in that run, to top HW prospect Marcin Tybura, brought his overall record to 20-2, with his only other loss coming to former Bellator champ Cole Konrad. Grabowski otherwise has wins over a range of solid veteran opponents including Konstantin Gluhov, Kenny Garner, Stav Economou, Eddie Sanchez, Dion Staring, and Joaquim Ferreira. He's only been to decision four times in his career (once in his loss to Konrad) with 11 wins by submission and 6 by TKO.

He trained for most of his career out of Lutadores Opole, but recently has spent time at Fightspirit Team, Khabib Nurmagomedov's home gym, which is producing some fantastic up and coming fighters. Outside of MMA Grabowski has been a successful BJJ grappler on the European circuit.

What you should expect:

At range, Grabowski is a bit of a flatfooted, clunky striker, very willing to move straight in on his opponent swinging combination punches. This means he often ends up tied up in the clinch without a lot of effort, as he doesn't do a lot to try and maintain distance. From the clinch, he has a tendency to throw big knees to the head and body. Against Marcin Tybura, this ended up getting him dumped on his back in a hurry, and generally isn't a fantastic way to defend against a takedown attempt. Grabowski is a pretty decent dirty boxer, however, when he can stick in the pocket . Notably, he also has a pretty good shot from the outside and a trip and drag takedown game to go with it.

When he doesn't have double underhooks however, he's not a hard fighter to stall against the cage. On the ground, in top control is where Graboski's game is at it's best, but he's not a great control grappler. He tends to give up top position rather easily, going for aggressive, difficult submissions. It will be interesting to see how this plays in the UFC, as it's a very similar skill set to Oleksiy Oliynyk but with less emphasis on power punching or control.

To get us better acquainted, here's his 2013 fight against Kenny Garner for the M-1 title:

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