Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight strikers Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jodie Esquibel collided yesterday (Oct. 21, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 118 inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.
To keep it short and sweet, this was set up as a showcase fight for Kowalkiewicz. The Polish striker started strong, building an undefeated record and putting up a tough fight opposite “Joanna Champion,” but two straight losses landed her this bout instead of a top contender.
Meanwhile, Esquibel jumped up from Invicta FC and the Atomweight division to accept this bout. She was the biggest underdog on the card, but the former professional boxer was looking to shock the crowd.
It didn’t happen.
Kowalkiewicz had a clear size advantage in this bout, and it didn’t take long for her to make use of it. Esquibel moved well and looked to come in with combinations, but her punches often came up short, while her opponent’s counters did not.
Before long, Esquibel’s face was beginning to wear some bruising from Kowalkiewicz’s jab and lanky cross. There was also something of a power discrepancy, as even Esquibel’s clean right hands seemed to do little to discourage her larger foe.
It wasn’t necessarily dominant — Esquibel was never stunned or really cut up — but it was an easy round for the hometown favorite.
While much of the fight took place at range, where Kowalkiewicz shot straight punches down the middle and ignored her foe’s counters, Kowalkiewicz shined in the brief clinch exchanges. When she was able to wrap up Esquibel’s neck, Kowalkiewicz slammed home repeatedly knees to the body and face. Then, as Esquibel sought to escape from the clinch, Kowalkiewicz would run her down with relentless punches.
Kowalkiewicz realized this clinch advantage a couple minutes into the round and really began to lean on it. Manhandling her foe and doing damage, Kowalkiewicz forced her foe to abandon all else and grab onto wrestling clinch just to survive.
Kowalkiewicz finished the round with a back take and arm bar attempt, but Esquibel survived the round.
By the third round, Esquibel’s face was swollen and bloody. Nevertheless, she kept her feet moving, timing her foes advance with combinations. Some of her punches were well-timed and landing clean, but they really had no effect in terms of stunning Kowalkiewicz or even halting her aggression.
Throughout the entire round, Kowalkiewicz marched her opponent down and fired. Straight punches, round kicks, knees up the middle, it all landed for Kowalkiewicz and came at a very high pace. Combinations came in four and five strikes, and it was impossible for Esquibel to keep up.
There was no doubt whose hand would be raised at the end of 15 minutes.
Kowalkiewicz won this fight dominantly and was never in any real trouble, which was completely the expectation leading up to this match. Kowalkwicz fought a smaller opponent without the power to hurt her or grappling to take her down, and the result was an unsurprising, high-volume ass kicking.
It’s hard to take much from this fight. Kowalkiewicz was set up to succeed, and she did, showing off usual blend of kickboxing, violent clinch work, and even some grappling skill. It wasn’t anything new, and it doesn’t change much about how she stacks up against the division’s best.
Still, it was a strong performance, and Gdansk loved it. She called out Jessica Andrade, and that’s a reasonable fight
As for Esquibel, her striking looked pretty solid. She landed some shots that should have stunned her opponent or caused some kind of an impact. Unfortunately, she’s an Atomweight — not a division known for knockout power — fighting a full-size Strawweight. Without an ability to make Kowalkiewicz respect her shots and slow down a bit, Esquibel had no real chance to match her foe’s pace.
Hopefully, she’ll be matched with a more reasonable foe next.
Last night at UFC Fight Night 118, Karolina Kowalkiewicz returned to the win column in dominant fashion. Can Kowalkiewicz earn a second title shot?
For complete UFC Fight Night 118 “Cerrone vs. Till” results and play-by-play, click HERE!