UFC 205: Five keys to victory for Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk
The biggest fight card of the year is almost here: UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Coverage begins Saturday on FS1—or streamed live via the Fox Sports Go app—with the Prefight Show at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the preliminary bouts at 8 p.m.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz steps into the cage at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden with a chance to dethrone the second-longest active reigning champion in the promotion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Aside from it being a historic event as the first women's UFC title fight in the iconic venue, it also pits two former foes and countrywomen against one another.
Here are five keys to Kowalkiewicz's upsetting Jedrzejczyk to beome the new UFC strawweight champion.
1. Pounce Early
Jedrzejczyk is a slow starter, who takes time to find a rhythm and get into a groove. Kowalkiewicz would benefit from pouncing on Jedrzejczyk early in an effort to change the dynamics of the fight. She could position herself for an early finish, she could do damage to Jedrzejczyk that makes her late-round rallies less probable. Kowalkiewicz could rattle Jedrzejczyk early, shake her confidence and take control of the fight.
So far in Kowalkiewicz's UFC career, she has rarely been outstruck in a first round.
2. Keep moving
Kowalkiewicz needs to not be stagnant and predictible in her movement. If she is standing in the pocket and moving straight forward and back, she will allow Jedrzejczyk to take advantage. If Kowalkiewicz can keep moving, circling, side-to-side, she will make it harder for Jedrzejczyk to track her down and launch an offensive output.
3. Control the center
Both women have strong clinch games, and the person who wins that battle could likely win the fight. The one place neither Jedrzejczyk nor Kowalkiewicz wants to find herself is against the cage with her back to it, absorbing damage from knees and trying to expend energy to escape. By controlling the center of the cage, Kowalkiewicz will force Jedrzejczyk to be cognizant of her position in the cage to avoid winding up against it, a distraction that could favor the challenger.
4. Don't rely on the counter strike
The counter strike is a strong tool, but not an effective one to use against Jedrzejczyk, who likes to back down her opponents with high volumes of strikes and combinations in an effort to overwhelm. If Kowalkiewicz relies on the counter strike, she could open herself up to one of Jedrzejczyk's famed offensive barrages. If she instead is dictating the pace of the fight, initiating exchanges on her pacing, she can keep Jedrzejczyk out of her comfortable element.
5. Conserve energy
This very well is a fight that could go the distance, and while Kowalkiewicz has had a few three-round decisions in her career, she has never gone five rounds before. She needs to make sure she has gas left in the tank should the fight go to extra rounds, especially considering that Jedrzejczyk has proven she can be incredibly active and aggressive late in fights.