Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne Announced for UFC 265

Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Karolina Kowalkiewicz Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

A battle of former women’s strawweight title challengers has been announced for UFC 265.

On Tuesday, UFC officials announced via social media that Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-6) will face Jessica Penne (13-5) at the PPV event. The bout will mark the first for Poland’s Kowalkiewicz since February of 2020, and just the second for Penne since 2017.

Following a long and arduous battle with USADA in which she accused the anti-doping agency of prematurely ending her career, Penne returned to the octagon back in April, earning a split decision against promotional newcomer Lupita Godinez. That win snapped a three-fight skid dating back to 2015, when she came up short for the UFC women’s strawweight championship opposite Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

All these years later, Penne will go up against another Polish star in Karolina Kowalkiewicz — albeit a star whose shine has been fading. The Lodz, Poland native known as the “Polish Princess” has lost four straight, against Jessica Andrade, Michelle Waterson, Alexa Grasso, and Yan Xiaonan. Although the foursome represents some of the best the division has to offer (minus Andrade, who has since departed for flyweight), another loss would be catastrophic.

Like Jessica Penne, Kowalkiewicz came up short against then-champ Jedrzejczyk when they met for the title at the historic UFC 205 in 2016.

UFC 265 does not yet have a location or venue announced. The event is expected to take place on August 7, 2021, with Amanda Nunes defending her bantamweight title against Julianna Pena in the lone title fight announced for the event to date.

The full card reported to this point breaks down as follows:

Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Julianna Peña
Vince Morales vs. Drako Rodriguez
Johnny Muñoz Jr. vs. Jamey Simmons
José Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz
Melissa Gatto vs. Victoria Leonardo
Casey Kenney vs. Song Yadong
Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill
Vicente Luque vs. Michael Chiesa
Alonzo Menifield vs. Ed Herman
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne