An early Fight of the Night contender emerged at UFC 223 as Karolina Kowalkiewicz battled Felice Herrig.
In what looked like a strawweight title eliminator, former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz took on the surging Felice Herrig at UFC 223 in Brooklyn on Saturday. The bout served as the featured prelim fight on Fox Sports 1, due in part to the upheaval experienced in the wake of Conor McGregor’s rampage on Thursday.
Herrig had won four straight in the 115lb weight class heading into Saturday night, while Kowalkiewicz was coming off a win at UFC Gdansk against Jodie Esquibel.
Both girls immediately got to throwing hands to open their strawweight battle in Brooklyn. Herrig launched a leg kick, but Karolina countered with a right hand. Felice was showing good movement early, but still ate a number of right hands, only to land clean with a counter shortly after. This opened into a an all-out war in the clinch near the mid-way point of the round, with Herrig landing looping punches and Karolina Kowalkiewicz answering back. Herrig kept her in a body lock, but was unable to get her down. The pair launched elbows, knees, and were both effective in the clinch.
Coming to the end of the first round, it was clear both women knew what was on the line. Herrig then tried for a rolling knee bar, but couldn’t land it. Karolina then transitioned to a triangle, but Herrig was able to break free.
In the second round, Herrig was looking for a takedown, while Kowalkiewicz pressed the action. In the clinch, the Polish fighter landed a number of knees and finished with an elbow. Herrig was able to land clean strikes on Kowalkiewicz in their exchanges, but she was taking damage herself. Kowalkiewicz next scored with a spinning back fist that landed clean. In their next exchange in the clinch the pair simply threw caution to the wind and traded bombs. Both girls looked for a trip, both were showing damage. They stayed active right to the second bell, and headed to a third.
Herrig showed good lateral movement early in the third, given how tired the pair were. Kowalkiewicz, however, seemed to have more pep in her step. She was able to land a crisp knee and elbow combination about two minutes into the final frame. Felice’s counter left began landing later in the round, and she managed to rock Kowalkiewicz late! However, Herrig followed that up with a takedown attempt that allowed the polish fighter to recover. They’d slug it out to the final bell! Ultimately, Kowalkiewicz earned the split decision in a close, thrilling bout.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Felice Herrig by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)