Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight contenders Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz collided last night (June 3, 2017) at UFC 212 inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Heading into this bout, Gadelha was the clear second best in her division. Having come up short to dominant division champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk twice, Gadelha had a long road ahead of her, but she was aided by the fact that she gave the champion a tougher test than anyone else. On the other hand, Kowalkiewicz was the more unproven of the two, but her results have generally been outstanding. She was also defeated by “Joanna Champion,” but Kowalkiewicz was undefeated in her other UFC bouts and could still earn a rematch.
Kowalkiewicz opened the bout with pressure and stance-shifting, doing her best to put out a lot of punches without leaving herself open to punches. The Polish striker missed more than she landed, but she did a nice job of making her foe miss while staying active. It was a sound strategy, but Gadelha was not to be denied. She landed a hard elbow on the break of the clinch, and while Kowalkiewicz stuffed a few attempts, Gadelha eventually secured her body lock and muscled Kowalkiewicz to the mat.
Once there, Kowalkiewicz made the decision to turn her back in an attempt to stand. It immediately cost her, as Gadelha climbed onto the back and started hunting for the choke. The arm slipped under the neck, and suddenly it was clear which of the top two contenders was the superior fighter.
Gadelha fought pretty perfectly. She was patient on her feet, as her opponent’s rapid footwork did not fluster her. She wasn’t landing a ton, but she waited for her chance to get into the clinch and capitalized from there. Once on the mat, Gadelha’s transition into the back mount and subsequent control/finish from there was some very high-level stuff. Kowalkiewicz was a tough test, but it goes to show how devastating the back mount can be. In a few short seconds, Gadelha went from having a difficult time at range to securing a first round finish.
It’s unclear who Gadelha should face next. Jedrzejczyk or Rose Namajunas makes the most sense, but they’re probably fighting each other. With that in mind, Jessica Andrade or Tecia Torres are the only real options for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist.
As for Kowalkiewicz, she was on the wrong side of that turning point. She fought intelligently on her feet, finding her range and refusing to give away any easy takedowns. Unfortunately, her moment of impatience on the mat ended the bout.
You simply cannot make mistakes against a black belt like Gadelha.
Moving forward, Kowalkiewicz should look to get back into the cage as quickly as possible. If Gadelha doesn’t fight her, a match up with Andrade would make plenty of sense. Alternatively, Kowalkiewicz has lost two straight, so a step back in competition from the Top 5 would also make sense.
Last night, Claudia Gadelha submitted her opponent in the very first round. What’s next for the Brazilian athlete?
For complete UFC 212: “Aldo vs Holloway” results and play-by-play, click HERE!