Karolina Kowalkiewicz leans on experience to overcome record 16-year age gap vs. Iasmin Lucindo at UFC 301

Karolina Kowalkiewicz’s assignment at UFC 301 is one that no female in company history has ever been tasked with before.

Former UFC title challenger Kowalkiewicz (16-7 MMA, 9-7 UFC) is set to take on surging strawweight prospect Iasmin Lucindo (15-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) on Saturday at Rio Arena in Rio de Janeiro (pay-per-view, ESPN2, ESPN+), in what will be the largest age gap for a women’s fight ever in the octagon.

Poland’s Kowalkiewicz, 38, is charged with taking on Lucindo, 22, and finding out if the Brazilian is the real deal. Lucindo was just 13 when Kowalkiewicz made her promotional debut in 2015, meaning she has all the youth on her side. Kowalkiewicz has far more high-level fights under her belt, however, and she expects that to play a key role in how the contest plays out.

“She’s 16 years younger than me,” Kowalkiewicz told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “She’s very young, very talented. She makes progress very fast. This is a big challenge for me. She’s very dangerous. I am more experienced than her. We have similar records, but she didn’t fight big names. I’ve fought in UFC for nine years. I’ve fought with four or five world champions. I fought with big names on big events. This is my advantage because I’m more experienced. She’s young, so I have to expect everything.”

There may not be a better time for Kowalkiewicz to encounter this challenge. She’s currently riding a four-fight winning streak, which was a massive rebound from the five-fight losing skid she encountered from 2018-2021 that generated talk about retirement.

If Kowalkiewicz is able to extend her streak against Lucindo, though, she would break back into the conversation about fighting legitimate contenders at 115 pounds. She said she’s not overthinking what’s at stake going into the octagon, because that mindset has led to all the recent success.

“This win is very important for me – but I don’t want to feel pressure,” Kowalkiewicz said. “I want to have fun – have fun and make some money. I treat the fight like every fight: If I win, it will be cool. It will be very cool. If she wins, OK, good for her. But I hope I will win and this is a big challenge for me to fight with new generation.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 301.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie