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A Blog Post

Kowalkiewicz takes split decision from Namajunas at UFC 201

Author: Brett Okamoto

Date: July 31, 2016

ATLANTA — Karolina Kowalkiewicz likely just set up an all-Poland strawweight title fight.

Kowalkiewicz (10-0), of Lodz, Poland, scored an upset split-decision victory over Rose Namajunas at UFC 201 on Saturday, inside Philips Arena. The win likely catapults Kowalkiewicz into a championship fight against three-time defending titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who is also from Poland.

The 30-year-old Kowalkiewicz won the bout via scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29. ESPN.com also had it 29-28, Kowalkiewicz.

“I am ready,” said Kowalkiewicz, of a potential matchup against the dominant Jedrzejczyk. “She said I’m not on her level and I will never fight with her. Now, I’m ready.”

Namajunas (5-3) went into the 115-pound fight a sizable favorite. She looked good early, circling in and out of Kowalkiewicz’s range and catching her with the jab and lead right hand. Late in the first round, she landed a clean counter left hook that appeared to buckle Kowalkiewicz’s knees.

The complexity of the fight changed in the following round, as Kowalkiewicz started to connect frequently with knees in the clinch. Namajunas smothered Kowalkiewicz along the fence and looked to take her down, but she did nothing but eat those knees in doing so. She eventually separated and knocked Kowalkiewicz down later in the round with a push front kick to the body.

The final frame was all Kowalkiewicz. Despite showing swelling over her left eye, she repeatedly forced her way into the clinch and went to work with knees. Late in the fight, she hurt Namajunas with short right uppercuts on the inside. Namajunas went down and dragged Kowalkiewicz on top of her. Namajunas searched for armbars a handful of times but took hammerfists to the head instead.

“I was landing more shots and besides the clinch, I feel like I won every area,” Namajunas said. “Even when I was on the bottom I was trying to finish. She wasn’t doing any damage and I know I hit her with some big shots. I let it go to the judges though, it’s my fault. I need to train harder and work on my clinch I guess.”

Namajunas, an American fighting out of Denver, suffered her first loss since a submission defeat to Carla Esparza in the inaugural strawweight title fight in December 2014.

To view this article as it appears on ESPN.com, click here.