UFC 212: Gadelha confirms she’s the best of the rest

In what was perhaps unfairly billed as a fight between two women unable to topple Joanna Jędrzejczyk, it was Brazil’s Cláudia Gadelha who came out on top, submitting Poland’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz with a rear-naked choke at 3:03 of round one.

Given their respective performances against Jędrzejczyk, the UFC 212 fight between Gadelha and Kowalkiewicz was expected to go long. It was meant to be competitive, nip-and-tuck, hard-to-call. But Gadelha, once she dragged the fight to the floor midway through round one, made a mockery of such pre-fight forecasts. Quickly it became a mismatch; quickly she distanced herself from the many other female strawweights who gather at the feet of a great champion.

That’s not to say the fight appeared this way from the get-go. In fact, Kowalkiewicz got off to a decent enough start. She used herky-jerky footwork and straight punches to counteract Gadelha’s plan to secure a takedown and, for a while, seemed tall and long enough to give the stocky Brazilian problems from the outside.

But then Gadelha got the takedown she’d been eyeing – one shot, one completion – and the entire complexion of the fight shifted. Gadelha, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, handed Kowalkiewicz a brief but brutal lesson, locking in the choke tight and giving the shellshocked Pole no option but to tap and bring an end to a bout that had yet to really get going.

Not that Gadelha, 28, cared. She said beforehand it would be one-sided and that a clear distinction would be made between her and the others. She was right.

“I am a new fighter,” Gadelha, 15-2, proclaimed. “This is the new Claudia. It’s going to be f***ing hard to beat me.”

This much is true. Even Joanna Jędrzejczyk, who boasts two decision wins over her, can attest to the fact it’s “f***ing hard” to beat Cláudia Gadelha.