Not to be overshadowed by Edson Barboza vs. Justin Gaethje tomorrow night (Sat., Mar. 30, 2019) at UFC on ESPN 2 from inside Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a main card scrap between women’s strawweight contenders Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Michelle Waterson.
As two of most seasoned and talented fighters at 115 pounds, Kowalkiewicz and Waterson are always a few wins away from locking down a shot at UFC gold. Waterson’s title aspirations may be more relevant on the heels of a two-fight win streak, but Kowalkiewicz, who is coming off a crippling knockout defeat to current title challenger Jessica Andrade, has already fought for a UFC title and understands the road traveled to get there.
A matchup this weekend against Waterson is a huge chance for Kowalkiewicz to regain some momentum in the strawweight division and stop herself from falling further down the proverbial ladder. Kowalkiewicz’s matchup with “Karate Hottie” isn’t necessarily one she enjoys, but the Polish veteran understands the magnitude of the situation.
“I think it’s a great match-up,” Kowalkiewicz said during a UFC Philadelphia media scrum earlier this week. “But I really like Michelle, and I don’t want to hurt her, and I have to. So it’s a very tough fight for me.”
“I know Michelle is a great fighter, a great person,” she continued. “She’s one of my idols, and this is a big honor for me, to fight with her.”
“She’s a mother, and she’s still fighting. All her career, she’s on the top. It’s something amazing.”
All respect aside, Kowalkiewicz vs. Waterson should be an absolute privilege to watch. Both fighters have produced memorable moments inside of the Octagon and should be on high alert when they compete on ESPN for the very first time.
For Kowalkiewicz, it’s the perfect opportunity to turn the page on her recent knockout loss to Andrade and focus her attention on the things ahead.
“I cannot change my past, so I’m focused on my future, on my next fight,” said Kowalkiewicz. “I don’t think about my fight with Jessica.”
Kowalkiewicz, who explained that she learned to “keep my hands up” after her loss to Andrade, already holds a key victory over current UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. Should she get past Waterson this weekend in Philadelphia it will do wonders for the 33-year-old’s divisional stock entering the second quarter of 2019.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 2 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 5 p.m. ET, before the ESPN main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.
To see who else is fighting at UFC on ESPN 2 click here.