Here are five keys to Joanna Jedrzejczyk defeating Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205 to retain her strawweight belt
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.
The first title fight of the historic UFC 205 card and promotional debut at Madison Square Garden is between strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz. On a card loaded with history, the fact that a women's title fight will be the first in the UFC's history at MSG is overlooked.
Jedrzejczyk and Kowalkiewicz both hail from Poland, but are fighting for the title of the world's best. Here are five keys to victory if Jedrzejczyk wants to retain her belt.
1. Don't let her get an early start
Jedrzejczyk is generally a slow starter, taking time to settle in, gauge distance and develop a rhythm. This is a benefit and a hinderance. It allows her to dominate in later rounds but it makes her susceptible to her opponents in the early rounds. Jedrzejczyk must prevent Kowalkiewicz from landing a key, significant strike that could swing momentum and put her in danger.
2. Change things up
This is not the first time Jedrzejczyk and Kowlkiewicz have fought. Jedrzejczyk won a bout when they were amateurs, which clearly gives her a mental edge in this fight from a confidence standpoint.
But Kowalkiewicz knows Jedrzejczyk's strengths, weaknesses, timing and more. Kowalkiewicz knows how hard Jedrzejczyk hits. This could help Kowalkiewicz solve the puzzle Jedrzejczyk offers, and Jedrzejczyk would be wise to change things up to keep her guessing.
3. Wear her down
This is the first time Kowalkiewicz will have to fight past three rounds. This is an edge for Jedrzejczyk, who has gone the distance. If she can wear Kowalkiewicz down with body shots, attacking her cardio, Jedrzejczyk would be set up favorably in the later rounds when she typically begins to pour it on her opponents.
4. Win the battle in the clinch
Both women are dominant in the clinch, and it might actually be Kowalkiewicz's strongest weapon. But if Jedrzejczyk can win the battle there, she can assert her dominance, attacking with knees and working the body.
5. Counter effectively
Kowalkiewicz likes to slide into the pocket, unload a barrage of quick strikes and then retreat to a safe distance. She also has a tendency to leave her head vulnerable during these offensive bursts. Jedrzejczyk is a dynamic striker and needs to punish Kowalkiewicz when she attacks. This will wear away at Kowalkiewicz's confidence and make her attacks more infrequent as her confidence in them begins to shake.