ATLANTA -- Karolina Kowalkiewicz likely just set up an all-Poland strawweight title fight.
Kowalkiewicz (10-0), of Lodz, Poland, scored an upset split-decision victory over Rose Namajunas at UFC 201 on Saturday, inside Philips Arena. The win likely catapults Kowalkiewicz into a championship fight against three-time defending titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who is also from Poland.
The 30-year-old Kowalkiewicz won the bout via scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29. ESPN.com also had it 29-28, Kowalkiewicz.
"I am ready," said Kowalkiewicz, of a potential matchup against the dominant Jedrzejczyk. "She said I'm not on her level and I will never fight with her. Now, I'm ready."
Namajunas (5-3) went into the 115-pound fight a sizable favorite. She looked good early, circling in and out of Kowalkiewicz's range and catching her with the jab and lead right hand. Late in the first round, she landed a clean counter left hook that appeared to buckle Kowalkiewicz's knees.
The complexity of the fight changed in the following round, as Kowalkiewicz started to connect frequently with knees in the clinch. Namajunas smothered Kowalkiewicz along the fence and looked to take her down, but she did nothing but eat those knees in doing so. She eventually separated and knocked Kowalkiewicz down later in the round with a push front kick to the body.
The final frame was all Kowalkiewicz. Despite showing swelling over her left eye, she repeatedly forced her way into the clinch and went to work with knees. Late in the fight, she hurt Namajunas with short right uppercuts on the inside. Namajunas went down and dragged Kowalkiewicz on top of her. Namajunas searched for armbars a handful of times but took hammerfists to the head instead.
"I was landing more shots and besides the clinch, I feel like I won every area," Namajunas said. "Even when I was on the bottom I was trying to finish. She wasn't doing any damage and I know I hit her with some big shots. I let it go to the judges though, it's my fault. I need to train harder and work on my clinch I guess."
Namajunas, an American fighting out of Denver, suffered her first loss since a submission defeat to Carla Esparza in the inaugural strawweight title fight in December 2014.
Ellenberger blows away Brown
With his back to the wall, literally and figuratively, welterweight Jake Ellenberger (31-11) finished Matt Brown (20-15) via TKO at 1:46 of the opening round. Ellenberger dropped Brown with a right hand just seconds into the fight, then dropped him again later in the fight with a left kick to the liver. Brown survived the opening knockdown and looked no worse for wear, walking Ellenberger to the fence and opening up with knees and punches. Once the liver kick landed, however, the fight was clearly over. The win might have saved Ellenberger's job. Fighting out of Southern California, Ellenberger was 1-5 in his previous six fights.
Krylov knocks out Herman
Light heavyweight Nikita Krylov (21-4) absolutely crushed Ed Herman (23-12) with a left head kick 40 seconds into the second round. Throughout the entire fight, Krylov threw one left kick after another. It proved to be an effective game plan, as Herman went completely limp from the final shot. Fighting out of Ukraine, Krylov has finished every fight in his current five-fight win streak.
Masvidal outpoints Pearson
Welterweight Jorge Masvidal (30-11) snapped a two-fight skid, defeating Ross Pearson (19-12) via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). Masvidal dropped Pearson with a left hook in the second round and nearly finished him with strikes on the ground. Referee Blake Grice even started to move in at one point -- enough to cause Masvidal to stop punching for a second -- but eventually allowed Pearson to continue. Pearson, who accepted the fight on short notice despite just suffering a three-round loss to lightweight Will Brooks on July 8, went on to win the third round; but it wasn't enough to steal a win. Pearson suffered consecutive losses for the first time in his career.