Just In UFC Philadelphia: Michelle Waterson picks up huge win over Karolina Kowalkiewicz MMA Life

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Michelle Waterson outsmarted Karolina Kowalkiewiczover three rounds to pick up her biggest UFC win to date.

Waterson (17-6 MMA, 5-2 UFC) denied Kowalkiewicz (12-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) a single round on judges scorecards, picking up unanimous scores of 30-27 for her well-rounded attack.

The women’s strawweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC on ESPN 2 event at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. It aired on ESPN following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

After trading kicks with Kowalkiewicz, Waterson sought the clinch to set up for a takedown. The onetime title challenger rebuffed the attempt and scored inside using a collar tie and punches. Waterson scored herself with right hands, but Kowalkiewicz’s power and pressure kept her on the defensive. When the two locked up, her size disadvantage was apparent as Kowalkiewicz muscled her in the clinch.

Waterson kept Kowalkiewicz at distance with attacks to the lead leg. When Kowalkiewicz go inside, however, her punches landed with more authority. Leverage turned out to be Waterson’s best weapon as the capitalized on a clinch with a head and arm throw that put her in side control. Elbows followed from the top, and Kowalkiewicz tried to triangle the head. Waterson wouldn’t let go of her position, however, and an armbar nearly got the tap before time expired in the middle frame.

With one round left to work, Kowalkiewicz came right at Waterson. She walked through a head kick and denied another head and arm throw. As before, though, Waterson kept her volume high and used footwork to keep herself from getting cornered. When Kowalkiewicz finally caught up, she ducked under for a single-leg takedown. Kowalkiewicz got back to her feet, only to take a hard right elbow as Waterson pushed her back for the first time. High kicks kept Kowalkiewicz from one last rebuttal.

With three straight wins, Waterson may have secured a rematch against champ Rose Namajunas, who submitted her nearly two years ago before claiming the title. Kowalkiewicz continues to slide with back-to-back defeats.

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