UFC 205: Jędrzejczyk Conquers Kowalkiewicz in All-Polish Battle

Joanna Jędrzejczyk defeated her fellow countrywoman Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205, and sealed her place as one of the pound-for-pound best in the process.

It wasn’t without adversity, but Joanna Jędrzejczyk defeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz to retain her UFC strawweight title in New York.  In doing so, she has successfully defended her title four times and has cemented her place as one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world.

Most notable about the bout was how superior the champion looked in a fight that figured to be much closer on paper.  Jędrzejczyk kept a high output for five rounds and her footwork caused problems for the challenger for 25 minutes.  Kowalkiewicz displayed incredible durability in absorbing a ton of damage in the fight and continued to try and push forward even in the fifth.

All night however, it seemed that the champion was too fast for the challenger as she got in and out with her strikes all night.  Even in the opening round, Jędrzejczyk found her rhythm early to easily win 10-9.  As the bout wore on, Kowalkiewicz became less varied in her attack and began to rush forward in desperate attempts to catch the Polish champion.

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After losing the first three rounds to Jędrzejczyk’s superior output, Kowalkiewicz finally found her mark with a big right hand that staggered the champion and added drama to what was shaping to be a blowout victory.  Kowalkiewicz tried to unload on punches to finish the fight but the champion was able to survive the assault and make it to the fifth round.

The closing five minutes were punctuated by back-and-forth exchanges as the challenger tried to find the chin of the champion again.  Just as in the fight with Claudia Gadelha, Jędrzejczyk displayed her championship mettle in closing out the fight in decisive fashion.  When the final scores were read, there was no doubt as Jędrzejczyk retained her title by unanimous decision.

Due to swelling by her right eye, the champion was not available at the post-fight press conference but there were plenty of questions about who is next in line for one of the most dominant champions in the UFC.  While her last two opponents were the clear cut next in line, the next woman to challenge for the title is more of a question.

Although she is coming off a loss to Kowalkiewicz, Rose Namajunas was on an impressive win-streak and many felt she would be next to challenge for the title.  Tecia Torres and Jessica Andrade are also on the short list for title contention, both roughly a victory away from being considered for a shot at the belt.  Fan favorite Paige VanZant is also booked for a bout in December against Michelle Waterson and could catapult herself into the title picture if she continues to win impressively.

For now, it is likely Jędrzejczyk enjoys time off after having been in two five-round battles this year.  Ahead of her on the pound-for-pound list are Demetrious Johnson, Dominick Cruz, and Daniel Cormier.  While the bantamweight and flyweight champions have longevity to their argument, Jędrzejczyk could surpass Cormier should the latter fall in their bout against Anthony Johnson next month.

One thing for certain is that fans should enjoy Jędrzejczyk now, because she is putting together a legacy-defining run so far in the strawweight division.