A week ago, thanks to an eye-catching victory over Jessica Andrade, Joanna Jedrzejczyk re-enforced her claim as the most dominant woman in mixed martial arts. With a record now standing at a gaudy 14-0, we’re left wondering who out there could possible threaten the Pole for the UFC strawweight championship belt. This weekend, another undefeated woman from Poland will take center stage, hoping to prove she is capable of mirroring the success of Joanna Violence.
Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (9-0), a 22-year-old resident of Katowice, competes in the flyweight (125lb) division. On Saturday night she will feature in her first Invicta main event, opposite the crafty veteran Vanessa Porto. “I feel really really good about this, I am very happy!” said Niedźwiedź to Bloody Elbow. “It’s a really great fight because Vanessa Porto is a really good fighter, and number two in the world, so I’m really happy that I have a chance to fight with her in Invicta.”
Porto (18-7) has wins over Roxanne Modafferi, Tara LaRosa, and UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie. Last time out the Brazilian lost a close five-round fight versus Jennifer Maia for the interim flyweight title. Niedźwiedź last fight in Invicta was a unanimous grinding decision victory over Christine Stanley.
After studying Porto’s fights with Maia and Modafferi, Niedźwiedź and her team have isolated the Brazilian’s right hand as her most dangerous weapon. “We’re going to watch for this, for sure,” said Niedźwiedź. When asked where she saw herself superior to Porto, the young Pole brimmed with confidence. “I think that I can beat her in every second of the fight and I think that I win this fight with no problem.”
Niedźwiedź, whose nickname is Kuma (Japanese for bear), has been training in martial arts since her mother sent her to a judo class at age seven. It was only five years ago (when Niedźwiedź was in her late teens) that her brother convinced her to join him at a Brazilian jiu jitsu class. “After two or three BJJ sessions, I was asked to fight in MMA,” said Niedźwiedź. “I took the fight and I really liked it, so after one month I had another fight, and that’s how this all got started.”
Against Stanley at Invicta FC 18, Niedźwiedź showed an ability to hang with her opponent at range. However, it was in close – and on the ground – that she did most her damage. This, she says, will be the game plan again come Saturday night. “I want to get my opponent on the ground as fast as possible and I want to finish the fight with my elbows,” said Niedźwiedź. “This is my game-plan for every fight.”
Thanks to her fighting-style Niedźwiedź has also been dubbed ‘Queen of Elbows’ in some circles. Niedźwiedź said her love of throwing elbows was discovered organically, during her early fights. “I don’t know how it happened,” she said. “I just have it in my fighting style. So, with my team, we started training my elbows more and it’s a really dangerous weapon. Elbows are really devastating, so I think that’s why I like them so much.”
Niedźwiedź said her ultimate dream is to compete in the UFC. Naturally, she was excited by recent news that the UFC is creating a 125lb division. However, Niedźwiedź is trying to ignore this development – for the moment. “I don’t think about this right now, because I am focused on my fight with Porto,” admitted Niedźwiedź. “After this fight we’ll be thinking about what we will be doing, with the UFC and with this 125lb division, but right now I am just focused on my fight in Invicta.”
Already in the upper echelon of the UFC are two women from Niedźwiedź’s home country: the aforementioned Joanna Jędrzejczyk and recent title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Both women are sources of motivation for Niedźwiedź, but for very different reasons.
“I know Karolina,” said Niedźwiedź. “Sometimes we train together. In this training camp we also had some sparring sessions, so I really like her. And she is really an inspiration for me. Joanna, she is – for this moment – the best woman in the world; so I really like her and I hope that one day we meet in the 125lb division for UFC belt.”
But before Niedźwiedź can entertain the idea of competing in the UFC’s newest division (or meeting Joanna Champion there), Kuma must first get past the veteran Porto. When asked why fans should tune in to watch her try, Niedźwiedź gave a grim prediction. “I hope there will be a lot of blood,” she said – calmly. “It’s going to be a real fight because Vanessa is a really good fighter. So, I think it will be really fun to watch. It’s going to be a real war.”
Tune into Invicta FC 23: Porto vs. Niedźwiedź on UFC Fight Pass on May 20th to see if Kuma makes good on her prediction. And keep an eye on her to see if she has what it takes to become the next Polish star of women’s MMA.
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