We are just over a week away from UFC Fight Night Gdansk and several of Poland’s top fighters are preparing to fight on home soil.
One of these fighters is the former UFC strawweight title contender, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. The Shark Top Team (STT) member has had a tough time of late having suffered back-to-back losses to fellow Pole Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Brazilian, Cluadia Gadelha.
Despite the recent difficulties, her coach Lukasz Zaborowski is adamant that next weekend Kowalkiewicz will turn things around and show the world that she’s still one of the best fighters in the world at 115-pounds.
“This is the fight business my friend, sometimes you win 30-40 fights in a row and then you lose a few important ones,” Zaborowski told MMAUNO.com. “We know this is the time we have to show our strength and prove to everyone that we’re still one of the best teams in the world. Karolina, nor anyone else in STT will ever give up.
“Believe me, Karolina will bounce back strong in Gdansk. In five years, fighters from America will be traveling to train with us.”
If Kowalkiewicz is to make a successful return, she must defeat UFC newcomer Jodie Esquibel (5-2). Several opponents turned a fight with Kowalkiewicz down, but the American stepped up to the plate when offered the opportunity of a lifetime to make her UFC debut. Zaborowski says that the team will be diligent to threat the Esquibel brings to the table on fight night.
“Jodie is a really tough fighter,” Zaborowski said. “I think the biggest threat will be her motivation because she can literally turn her life around and jump straight on top of her division if she wins.
“I’m confident she won’t though. We’ve been meticulous in our preparation and Karolina will be back to her best on fight night.”
Despite her recent losses, Kowalkiewicz’s name has still been in around the top contenders in the division. Most recently, Jessica Andrade spoke out and claimed the Pole had turned down a fight with her in Gdansk. Zaborowski says this never happened, but he did add that they could open that discussion again after Kowalkiewicz wins next weekend.
“Karolina never received an offer to fight Andrade,” Zaborowski said. “I’m not saying she wasn’t asking UFC for that fight, but I guess they had different plans for her.
“I’m sure we will cross paths one day, but let’s come back to that conversation after UFC Gdansk.
“We have a job to do first and we’re just focused on beating Jodie.”
STT recently moved out of their location in Lodz, Poland and have been going from gym to gym working alongside different fight teams in Poland. At the end of the month, the team will open an new facility just outside of Warsaw and Zaborowski is looking forward to be settled in one place again.
“Until now, we were training in different gyms where we were only renting the mat space,” Zaborowski said. “We were advertising different gyms, but now it’s time to open our own place.
“The main difference will be that our own coaches will now take all of the classes. This means everybody can now follow one schedule. This wasn’t possible before because all of our coaches were teaching in gyms around the town, but now we have the no new facility, everything should be a lot easier for us all.”
One of STT’s team members, Adam Zajac, was recently involved in an incident at a football match and was left with multiple stab wounds and fighting for his life in hospital. Zaborowski gave an update on his friend’s condition and thankfully Zajac appears to be on the mend.
“Adam is recovering now, spending a lot of time with his family, beautiful wife and new born son,” Zaborowski said.
“He is a true warrior and I believe he will be back on the mat within six months.”
MMA in Poland is a sport on the rise and growing more popular with every event. The UFC coming to Poland for a second time is a big deal for the country and Zaborowski says that other fighters in STT will be making big noise on the world scene.
“MMA is slowly becoming a national sport in Poland,” Zaborowski said. “KSW filling out biggest stadium in the country only goes to prove that. A few years ago, Poles were only newcomers in UFC. Now we have a top fighters in multiple divisions and a world champion.
“We have a lot of fighters in STT who have fights coming up for all of the main organizations, UFC, KSW and ACB. The most anticipated is comeback of Damian Szmigielski after injury which suppose to happen in November.
“Marcin Wrzosek should also be returning in December, but nothing is confirmed yet.”