The UFC has announced an intriguing strawweight match-up for their scheduled show at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand on February 22nd.
The match-up sees the 14th ranked Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-5) taking on Yan Xiaonan (11-1, 1 NC), who is currently on a long undefeated streak.
The 34-year-old Kowalkiewicz last appeared in the Octagon on June 8th, when she took on Alexa Grasso. The Polish fighter lost that bout by unanimous decision. It was her third loss in a row, after defeats by Michelle Waterson and Jessica Andrade (via KO).
Kowalkiewicz’s most high profile fight came at UFC 205 in November, 2016. That’s when she fought countrywoman Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC strawweight title. Kowalkiewicz dropped that bout by unanimous decision. Prior to losing to Joanna then-Champion, Kowalkiewicz was on a 10-0 winning streak with wins over Rose Namajunas and Randa Markos.
Another loss for Kowalkiewicz would give her the dreaded 0-4-run, which has — more often than not — resulted in release from the UFC. Kowalkiewicz hasn’t been given an easy route to stave off that situation.
Yan’s only loss was a submission defeat back in 2010. Since then the 30-year-old has had a victorious run through the Korean Road FC organization and impressed with four straight wins versus UFC competition.
Yan was the first female Chinese fighter ever signed to the UFC. Her promotional debut came in 2017, with a win over Kailin Curran. After that she beat Viviane Pereira, Syuri Kondo and Angela Hill; all by unanimous decision.
UFC Auckland, also known as UFC Fight Night 168, UFC on ESPN+ 26 and UFC Fight Night: Felder vs. Hooker currently boasts Paul Felder vs. Dan Hooker as the main event. Jake Matthews vs. Emil Weber Meek and Tyson Pedro vs. Vinicius Moriera are also expected to be on the card.