ByJim Edwards, writer at
MMA story chaser from the UK
Jim Edwards

It's all to play for at the top of the UFC strawweight division, and two women who know what it's like to challenge for the title will go head-to-head at .

and have both tried and failed to knock the champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, off her perch, but with both having lost to her in the last year, they're going to have to make some big noise if they're to reinsert themselves into the title picture.

At UFC 212, they get the opportunity to do exactly that when they go toe-to-toe in Rio de Janeiro on the undercard of the Jose Aldo vs Max Holloway featherweight showdown. Speaking exclusively to last week, Kowalkiewicz's coach, Lukasz Zaborowski, gave an update on how their preparations had gone, so far.

"She's already started to prepare for the fight and it's going well," Zaborowski said. "Brazil is very different to Poland with different weather, different time zone, but this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Claudia is a strong wrestler, she's good at striking, but it's not something we've haven't seen before."

With regards to Gadelha's recent fights, Zaborowski said he'd been unimpressed with her last few appearances in the Octagon. The Shark Top Team Head Coach went on to imply that the USADA program might be something to do with Gadelha's recent performances.

"Her last fight with Cortney Casey, I didn't she think she looked that good, in my opinion," Zaborowski said. "She's a different fighter now. Against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the first fight was very close , but in the second fight, it was a total domination. Then, against Cortney Casey she was unimpressive again. What can I say? USADA is working."

Zaborowski then gave a bold prediction for the fight and said that he expected Kowalkiewicz to pick up her first UFC win inside the distance.

"Karolina will submit Claudia," Zaborowski said. "Remember these words."

While it's likely that Rose Namajunas will get a shot at the title later this year after her dominant performance over Michelle Waterson, it's not out the question that the winner of the Kowalkiewicz and Gadelha fight could also get a shot before the year is up.

Zaborowski believes there is a perfect place to hold the rematch with Jedrzejczyk and that the answer lies close to home.

"Karolina has been even more motivated since the loss to Asia," Zaborowski said. "The motivation now is for the UFC in Gdansk in October. It is the right place for the rematch. Believe me, if they fight again you will be hearing the words 'And New'."

No doubt, Kowalkiewicz and her team will have a keen eye on this weekend.


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