Dana White on Tuesday revealed the first two fights for its return trip to Philadelphia, UFC Fight Night on ESPN 2. Both bouts are in the women’s strawweight division.
After the fight promotion announced that the event would take place at The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, White dropped two fights with ESPN, the most notable being Michelle Waterson vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz. The other bout pits Alexa Grasso against Marina Rodriguez.
Waterson (16-6) appeared to be on the fast track to a title shot when she won her first two bouts in the Octagon, but was derailed by Rose Namajunas, who is now the UFC strawweight champion. She then lost to Tecia Torres before rebounding with back-to-back victories over Cortney Casey and Felice Herrig.
With a little momentum on her side, Waterson, currently ranked No. 8 in the division, could take another leap toward title contention with a win over the likes of the Polish fighter.
Kowalkiewicz (12-3) holds a split-decision victory over Namajunas from before she was the champ, but has lost three of her last five fights, albeit all to stellar competition.
Kowalkiewicz failed to wrest the belt away from Joanna Jedrzejczyk and then lost to Claudia Gadelha, but bounced back with wins over Jodie Esquibel and Herrig. Just when Kowalkiewicz seemed to get her mojo back, she got knocked out by Jessica Andrade, who is now slated to challenge Namajunas at UFC 237 in Brazil.
Still holding down the No. 6 spot in the strawweight division, Kowalkiewicz could make a strong case to challenge either Namajunas or Andrade should she earn a statement victory over Waterson.
Grasso (10-2) currently sits at No. 13 in the rankings, while Rodriguez (10-0-1) has yet to crack the Top 15, but the winner of their bout could make some big moves with a little momentum.
The UFC Fight Night on ESPN 2 main event has yet to be announced.