Poland has already proven to be a country that produces top-level talent in women’s mixed martial arts through the rise of Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Flyweight prospect Agnieszka Niedzwiedz wants to show the world she has the tools to become the next Polish superstar.
Niedzwiedz was introduced to martial arts through judo as a means to stay busy as a child. She decided to switch gears at age 17 and shifted her focus to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, training alongside her brother. Before long, everything started to fall into place.
“After only a couple of sessions of training, I got an offer to fight in professional MMA,” Niedzwiedz told Sherdog.com, “and I decided that I should try a new thing.”
She made her first pro MMA appearance as a teenager and without the benefit of much formal training. It did not take Niedzwiedz long to realize she was meant to fight.
“I had no amateur fights or even sparring before my professional debut,” she said. “My opponent rocked me in the first round, but I came back and TKO’d her in revenge. From that moment, I decided I want to do MMA.”
Though she lacked the experience and background of most prospects, she was not surprised by her success. Niedzwiedz believes it comes with the culture.
“It is in the Polish blood,” she said. “We are the best because we have very strong wills, tenacity and toughness in our veins.”
Niedzwiedz started 7-0 with six finishes and quickly gained momentum. The flyweight put her MMA career on hold at age 19, as she gave birth to a son. Niedzwiedz spent the next year and a half being a mother. After an extended absence from the sport she loved, “Kuma” rededicated herself to MMA. She linked arms with the Grappling Krakow academy, where she fell under the direction of head coach Lukasz Chlewicki. He received a call from Niedzwiedz’s manager about the possibility of training her and embraced the opportunity. It did not take long for student and teacher to click.
“I heard she was a hard worker, but of course, we needed some time to get a full understanding,” Chlewicki said. “Everything I heard about her before turned out to be the truth.”
Niedzwiedz surprised Chlewicki with how rapidly she adapts.
“You show her a new technique and she will try it twice, and the third time she does it properly,” he said. “She can go far and be a worldwide star with her potential.”
Niedzwiedz signed with Invicta Fighting Championships upon returning from her sabbatical and took on Christine Stanley at Invicta 18 on July 29. Ring rust was not an issue, as she pocketed a unanimous decision over Stanley to improve to 8-0. Five months later, Niedzwiedz fought Samara Santos Cunha at Ladies Fight Night 4 in her native Poland and stopped the Brazilian with third-round punches. The 22-year-old enjoys using all of her weapons but favors one over all others.
“I want to be worldwide famous for using elbows on the ground,” said Niedzwiedz, who boasts seven finishes among her nine victories. “Yes, smashing someone with elbows is what I do love most.”
Niedzwiedz will put her undefeated record on the line against Vanessa Porto in the Invicta 23 main event on Saturday at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. Their three-round clash highlights an eight-bout card that will stream to UFC Fight Pass in its entirety. Porto serves as the most significant test of Niedzwiedz’s career, with wins over Roxanna Modaferri, Zoila Frausto, Tara LaRosa and Jennifer Maia already on her resume.
“I respect Porto. She should be considered as a women’s MMA legend, as she faced so many great fighters during her longtime career,” Niedzwiedz said. “In this fight, I’ll prove that I am not only a Top 10 fighter but one of the best females on the planet.”
As she approaches her first turn as an Invicta headliner, Niedzwiedz claims to be more excited than nervous. The stakes for women’s flyweights have grown even higher in recent weeks, with the UFC announcing its plans to institute a 125-pound division.
“I like that flyweight [‘Ultimate Fighter’] idea. I hope it will work out,” Niedzwiedz said. “I have no interest in taking part in it, but it will make my life easier if they will find a flyweight out of 16 girls and I will just smash the winner and take what’s mine.”
For now, the woman they call “Kuma” remains focused on beating Porto and then pursuing an Invicta championship. Niedzwiedz sent a message to the rest of the competitors who populate the 125-pound weight class.
“Be scared, girls,” she said. “Flyweight is my division. Anyone thinking about going down or up with a weight class should consider that I am already waiting here.”