On Saturday, July 30 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, the main event features Robbie Lawler as he defends his title for the third consecutive time against the current fourth-ranked welterweight in Tyron Woodley.

But let’s switch our focus for now towards the co-main event, where we will see #3 strawweight ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas taking on #5 Karolina Kowalkiewicz to potentially determine the next clear contender for the strap against the best female fighter alive today, in Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

UFC.com Top 5 Strawweight division (2016-07-23)

UFC.com Top 5 Strawweights (23-07-2016)

In recent times, the strawweight division has received increasingly more respect as a competitive division, as it should – the people in that top 15 have increased their profile from the development of their arsenal, competing more, and showcasing their personalities outside of the Octagon, making each fight more high-profile than it ever previously before.

The best example among the strawweights is probably Paige VanZant, who went on season 22 of Dancing with the Stars, shaking her hips all the way to the finals of the season.

We will have to wait until August 27 to see the full impact of her time on the show, how it may have increased her profile and the number of eyeballs watching her fights because of seeing her on DWTS.

As you can see on the screenshot I took from UFC.com rankings (23-07-2016) of the top five strawweights, we can easily determine that this contest between Namajunas and Kowalkiewicz is the fight to keep your eyes on for further conversations of this division when discussing potential title fights in the nearest future.

Let’s go through it quickly.

Claudia Gadelha recently lost for the second time against Joanna, Carla Esparza just came back and won her first fight since losing her title to the current champion back in March 2015, and Tecia Torres lost her most recent fight in a rematch against Rose Namajunas that was a very evenly contested bout.

Our conclusion – Namajunas vs Kowalkiewicz are the two left standing, and as we all know in the fight game, there can be only one.

The second best strawweight coming out of Poland, Kowalkiewicz, is undefeated as a professional mixed martial artist with nine victories, with two out of those nine fights have occurred in UFC´s Octagon. Both fights she out-landed her opponents almost 2-1, to win by unanimous decision both times.

Fun fact: Karolina Kowalkiewicz has already once faced Joanna Jedrzejczyk back in March 2012, in an amateur MMA competition where Joanna won by submission, rear-naked choke, in the first round, according to Sherdog.com´s fightrecord-database.

Kowalkiewicz (Piotr Pedziszewski/Sherdog)

Although Karolina hasn’t had the ‘breakout’ performance inside the promotion as of yet, she has been dominating on the scorecards. Similar to when Holly Holm fought Ronda Rousey in Australia, she hadn’t had an exciting performance in UFC until she faced Rousey and landed that head kick to capture the crown.

Could this be Kowalkiewicz coming out party?

Hard to predict, but I suspect that if Kowalkiewicz comes out with her hand raised against Namajunas on Saturday, a main event spot will be there waiting for her in Poland, against fellow countryman Joanna Jedrzejczyk, somewhere around 2016/2017.

For that to happen, Kowalkiewicz needs to overcome the more focused and goal oriented ‘Thug’ Rose, who has looked very impressive since her first UFC loss in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter, where the winner became the first strawweight champion.

Unfortunately for Rose, she let the opportunity slip through her fingers that time, but since then has created momentum with a spectacular win streak now at three – against Angela Hill, who currently is the Invicta FC strawweight champion, Paige VanZant, and revenging her first loss in her career to Tecia Torres in her most recent contest.

Tecia Torres (l) vs Rose Namajunas (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

The new Rose, or, Namajunas 2.0 if you will, has looked nothing but sensational lately, and she could become the first person to compete for the strawweight title twice since the birth of the division in the UFC.
UFC 201 is happening on Saturday, June 30th, and with the knowledge that the next contender for the strawweight division is probably the winner of the co-main event out of this UFC 201 fight card, it makes it all a little more intriguing to watch.

About The Author

Christian Larusson
Staff Writer

Christian Larusson is a passionate Mixed Martial Arts fan. With experience in writing for Swedish MMA sites, he now solely writes in English through blogging, PunchDrunkSports and The MMA Corner. Got his heart broken early in his life when a friend, ‘Judas’, told him that WWE/WWF wasn’t real. Then one day, he saw MMA on a friend's computer, he was overwhelmed with emotions from what his eyes had just seen. He´s been in love ever since. Christian has been published in different Swedish papers and books, nothing to do with MMA though, so who gives a shh-.