Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight elites Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz will collide this Saturday night (June 3, 2017) at UFC 212 inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Outside of a pair of losses to current Strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Gadelha has been untouchable at 115 pounds. It may be tough for her to earn a third battle with the kickboxer, but no one else has truly been able to challenge “Joanna Champion.” Kowalkiewicz’s situation is surprisingly comparable to her opponent. She’s undefeated except for her scrap with Jedrzejczyk, and now she’ll look to work past Gadelha and prove herself as the second best Strawweight on the roster.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both women:
Key Wins: Courtney Casey (UFC Fight Night 100), Jessica Aguilar (UFC 190), Valerie Letourneau (Wreck MMA), Tina Lahdemaki (UFC Fight Night 45)
Key Losses: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC TUF 23 Finale, UFC on FOX 13)
Keys to Victory: Gadelha is one of the most well-rounded women in the sport. She can punch intelligently and packs some power, while her wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu have allowed her to largely dominate the field.
Luckily for Gadelha, she already has some experience opposite Polish Muay Thai fighters with tough takedown defense. Gadelha’s strategy opposite Jedrzejczyk — who is very much a better version of her opponent — actually worked pretty well. By pressuring with punches and constant takedown attempts, Gadelha was able to smother her opponent for a majority of the first half of the fight.
Unfortunately, her gas tank faltered, and Jedrzejczyk capitalized by smashing her.
This time around, Gadelha is in a three-round fight against a lesser defensive wrestling. If Gadelha sticks to the strategy of sticking to Kowalkiewicz, she should be able to add another quality win to her record.
Key Wins: Rose Namajunas (UFC 201), Randa Markos (UFC on FOX 17), Heather Jo Clark (UFC Fight Night 87), Mizuki Inoue (Invicta FC 9)
Key Losses: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 205)
Keys to Victory: Kowalkiewicz is an experienced Muay Thai fighter with some really solid grappling. On her feet, Kowalkiewicz excels from inside the clinch, where she really carves up her opponent with elbows and hard knees. Additionally, she’s showed some skilled counter punching.
Both of those traits could be huge in this match up.
Kowalkiewicz’s main objective has to be making her opponent’s life and takedown attempts miserable. Given an inch, Gadelha will drag her to the mat and control her without issue, so Kowalkiewicz needs to fight the takedown every step of the way.
At range, Kowalkiewicz has to keep her feet moving. If she can force Gadelha to swing wide or take ugly shots, that’s a waste of energy that could create an opening for a hard counter punch. At some point, Gadelha will move into the clinch/wrestling positions. When that happens, Kowalkiewicz cannot just look to disengage. She has to defend the offensive wrestling, but Kowalkiewicz also has to answer with clinch strikes that will discourage her opponent’s attempts.
Bottom Line: This is a huge match up for the 115-pound division.
Earning a third fight with a champion after losing the first two is a difficult task, but Gadelha has a few things going for her. For one, she very arguably won the first match, and she found real success in the second bout. Plus, there aren’t many other viable contenders for “Joanna Champion,” which gives her a quicker path to the title shot.
That said, a win does not guarantee her a title shot. It moves her closer, but there’s also the real risk that a loss will be a significant setback.
For Kowalkiewicz, this could result in a title shot since she’s only competed with the champion once. Gadelha only won a single fight between her two fights with Jedrzejczyk, so the precedent is there for Kowalkiewicz to earn her rematch with a big win. Meanwhile, a second straight loss would not be quite as devastating for Kowalkiewicz. The potential for a high-profile rematch would still exist, Kowalkiewicz would just have to put together a couple wins that aren’t against Claudia Gadelha.
At UFC 212, Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz will duel in the co-main event. Which athlete will come out on top?
Source:: mma mania