#UFC223 Keys to Victory: Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Felice Herrig

On Saturday, at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York, the first of three thrilling women’s bouts will take place in the flyweight division on UFC Fight Pass.

Capping off the FS1 Prelims will be a strawweight showdown between former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiwicz and streaking contender Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig. Herrig will look to extend her win streak to five and secure a shot at the strap while Kowalkiewicz attempts to follow up her dominant performance in Gdansk with another one in Brooklyn.

After an intense staredown and both fighters making weight, the bout was made official. Before the two meet in the cage at UFC 223, two members of the WMMA Rankings panel, Nick and Terence, play the role of head coach and map out what they believe will be Kowalkiewicz and Herrig’s Keys to Victory.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz (Nick)
  1. SET THE PACE… Karolina sets a grueling pace. She is not necessarily a one-hit knockout artists but rather overwhelms her opponents with volume. She is able to keep a consistent pace throughout the fight and doesn’t get tired– she has a strong chin and moves forward for most of the time. KK should set this pace early, backing Felice up and beating her to the punch every time.
  2. MIX UP THE COMBOS… KK usually throws punches and kicks in combinations. If she throws single strikes or predictable combinations, Herrig will look to time her and move in for double underhooks/takedowns. While KK is no slouch on the ground, she’d be wise to keep the fight standing. Stay unpredictable, mix up the combinations, and make Felice second guess herself.
  3. CONTROL THE CENTER… Kowalkiewicz should look to stay aggressive. Felice may look to test her strength in the clinch or against the fence, however, if Karolina takes the center she can dictate where the fight takes place. She’ll want to keep her back off the fence, if they do clinch, KK should work from the outside in where she can be the one to impose her will and dominance in the clinch.
Felice Herrig (Terence)
  1. RATTLE KAROLINA’S CAGE…One of Karolina’s strengths is that she always seems to be in control of her emotions. She’s had plenty of practice since her fellow Pole Joanna Jedrzejczyk did her best to get under her skin. Herrig may not succeed, but she also delights in trying to gain a mental advantage over her opponent. Look no further than the bird-flipping contest she had in her last fight with Cortney Casey. If she uses her usual tactics, she will get in her face during face-offs and finish it off by provoking her during the fight.
  2. GET THE FIGHT TO THE GROUND…While Karolina does have some submission wins to her credit, Herrig is the stronger ground fighter and should make it a priority to take the fight to the mat where she had a clear advantage. Given that her last loss was a rear naked choke submission to Claudia Gadelha, ground fighting might be another psychological advantage.
  3. TAKE IT EASY…Herrig needs to look for openings and pace herself. Karolina is a solid striker and their initial exchanges will likely bear that out. Herrig needs to implement her game plan gradually and not jump off to a fast start as if she has a prior engagement. If she is going to beat Karolina, it will be because she is patient and methodical, not because she goes for the kill at the opening bell.


who will you be rooting for come Saturday? What Keys to Victory do you think each fighter should have?

Veteran martial arts writer also published in Black Belt and Fight! Magazine.

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