Karolina Kowalkiewicz put on a show for her home country fans, defeating Jodie Esquibel on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 118 at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.
Kowalkiewicz was aggressive from the opening bell, pressing forward and unleashing boxing combinations. Esquibel did a good job avoiding any major damage, but she seemed content to hang back and counter, while Kowalkiewicz took control of the fight and started landing some solid right hands in the latter half of the opening round.
Round two was another solid effort by Kowalkiewicz. She continued to press forward, but changed up her combinations, moving into a Thai clinch and landing several knees to Esquibel’s face, visibly wobbling her.
Kowalkiewicz kept the pressure on the for the remainder of the round, landing more knees and a head kick that kept Esquibel backpedaling. Kowalkiewicz tripped Esquibel to the canvas in the waning moments of the second frame, took her back, and immediately shifted to an armbar attempt, but couldn’t lock it out before the horn.
The third round featured much of the same, as Kowalkiewicz seemed to sense that Esquibel didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to throw a knockout blow. With that in mind, Kowalkiewicz walked through anything Esquibel threw at her in the final round, unloading with a mix of punch combinations, knees, elbows, and kicks.
She couldn’t find the finish, but Kowalkiewicz dominated the fight, cementing her position as the No. 3 ranked fighter in the UFC strawweight division with a unanimous decision victory.
Having only lost two bouts in her career – to champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha – Kowalkiewicz welcomed a bout with the only other fighter currently ranked ahead of her in the division.
“I never choose the opponent. I accept everybody the UFC puts in front of me,” said Kowalkiewicz. “I was told Jessica Andrade said I declined a fight with her, I didn’t, but we can do it now.”
Andrade is currently ranked No. 1 in the UFC strawweight division behind Jedrzejczyk.