In the first of three title fights at UFC 205 in New York City, women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk defended her belt for the fourth time against fellow Pole Karolina Kowaliewicz, who she defeated in 2012 on the amateur scene. Jedrzejczyk defeated Kowalkiewicz for the second time on Saturday night, but, this time, the two strawweights went the distance.
Jedrzejczyk picked Kowalkiewicz apart on the feet for the first three rounds. She landed more strikes, and they were more powerful, too. She never stunned Kowalkiewicz badly, but her volume overwhelmed her opponent. After the third round, it seemed like the two championship rounds would look very similar to the first three.
But Kowalkiewicz came out in the fourth round knowing she had to finish the champion if she wanted to walk away with the title. She landed a solid straight punch on Jedrzejczyk, rocking her, and followed up with a barrage of strikes.
Jedrzejczyk survived. Barely.
Jedrzejczyk recovered and looked good in the final round, and the belt was put around her waist after the fight was over.
What was the highlight of the fight?
The highlight of the strawweight title fight was certainly Kowalkiewicz’s flurry in the fourth round that nearly won her the championship. After over 15 minutes of essentially domination from Jedrzejczyk, the challenger knew she needed to do something big — and fast. She, of course, wasn’t able to get the job done, but it was a great effort. She landed a bomb of a right hand, followed by a devastating flurry of shots, hurting Jedrzejczyk the most she’s probably ever been in her UFC career. She came so close, but Jedrzejczyk toughened it out, and it wasn’t enough.
Where do these two go from here?
Jedrzejczyk suffered quite a bit of damage over the course of the five-round affair, so she may want some time off. Plus, she’s been relatively active, compared to other UFC champions. Her next opponent will likely be Jessica Andrade — there’s no one ranked higher than her coming off a win, other than Carla Esparza, who Jedrzejczyk has already beat — but Andrade may need to take one more fight to stay active. It all depends on the Pole’s timeline for return.
Kowalkiewicz isn’t in a bad situation. Yes, she suffered her first UFC loss, but it was to the most dominant female fighter in the organization right now. She is clearly one of the best at 115 pounds; she defeated Rose Namajunas in her last outing, which is her biggest win to date, and has a few other solid names on her record. I expect her to get back into the winning column in her next fight, and she could even replace Jedrzejczyk as champion if the UFC ever creates a women’s flyweight division, something Jedrzejczyk wants.
Watch now, later, or never?
I’d check out Jedrzejczyk vs. Kowalkiewicz right away. It didn’t earn Fight of the Night honors, but it came very close.