Karolina Kowalkiewicz sent Felice Herrig into retirement, but had their fortunes been reversed, it’s Kowalkiewicz’s gloves that would have been left in the octagon.
The one-time UFC strawweight title challenger snapped a five-fight, four-year losing streak this past Saturday with a second-round submission of Herrig at UFC Vegas 56. Immediately afterwards, Herrig announced that she had fought for the last time, signaling the end of a 13-year MMA career.
On The MMA Hour on Wednesday, Kowalkiewicz was asked if she herself would have retired had Herrig won.
“Yes,” Kowalkiewicz said, adding that it was not a decision she’d discussed with anyone else. “I didn’t say this to nobody.”
Kowalkiewicz had hinted at a possible retirement following a loss this past August, a first-round submission to Jessica Penne at UFC 265 that extended Kowalkiewicz’s winless skid to five. At that point, Kowalkiewicz had not won a fight since scoring a decision win over Herrig in their first meeting at UFC 223 in April 2018.
She admitted that her struggles convinced her to take some time away from focusing on MMA.
“Yes, I had a really bad moment in that time and I thought maybe it was time to finish with MMA,” Kowalkiewicz said. “But after a few months, after a few weeks when I fought and everything, no, I cannot finish with MMA because I love it. Not yet, not yet. Two [more] years for sure, I want to fight. ”
“I did not train a few months,” she continued. “I had a break. I didn’t watch MMA. Just relax, work in Poland, and it was really good for me. ”
When UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard called Kowalkiewicz with the offer of a second fight against Herrig, the Polish veteran knew it was a sign for her to make a change. Leaving her family, husband, and dogs behind, Kowalkiewicz made the move to Florida to train with American Top Team and so far, the results speak for themselves.
Following their fight, Kowalkiewicz and Herrig exchanged respectful words.
“I said to her, ‘I’m sorry,'” Kowalkiewicz said. “‘I’m sorry and I wish you all the best in your life.’ And she said that she really respects me and wished me good luck in my future fights. ”
As for how she feels about Herrig’s retirement, Kowalkiewicz kept her thoughts brief.
“Better her than me, what can I say?”