UFC Auckland & The Two Forgotten Europeans
By James Lee
As ever, this past weekend’s card in Auckland posed a chance for those unassuming on the UFC roster to augment themselves, but most importantly, a chance for those who once were elevated to not be forgotten amongst the masses.
Arguably the pair with the most on the line in New Zealand was Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Emil Weber Meek. Unfortunately for both, it is likely they are now a thought of past recollection.
They both once amassed a hype that is now gone. Kowalkiewicz especially reached the top of the sport in 2016, when she challenged Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the strawweight title at UFC 205. Since then, her consistency has been far from her early beginnings into the sport where she amassed a 10-0 record at one point.
Last night saw her take on Chinese fighter Yan Xiaonan, with little success. Although she showed her ever prominent toughness, it was far from enough to deter her opponent who eased to a unanimous decision victory.
She always held a mark at strawweight because she beat Rose Namajunas, but with the American no longer champion, her stock at 115 lbs has significantly lowered and her defeat to Alexa Grasso and now Xiaonan will see her place in the strawweight rankings dissolve.
In the case of Emil Weber Meek, he didn’t quite hit the heights that Kowalkiewicz did, but he certainly amassed his own hype in the welterweight division at one point.
After success in Europe that included a knockout victory over Rousimar Palhares, the Norweigan fighter followed that up with a win over veteran Jordan Mein in his UFC debut, but a dominant loss to Kamaru Usman in early 2018 shut that down though. Few expected ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ to be as dominant as he has since shown, but Meek has yet to show the loss was just a blip.
A subsequent loss to Bartosz Fabinski and now Jake Matthews has left his status as a UFC fighter in question. Although he wasn’t completely in a mismatch against the Australian, he clearly lost; suffering in the wrestling aspect despite continuously going forward non-stop.
The future is unclear for both. Whether they will be cut or not is in question. One thing they have is they both are tough and are always in exciting fights, but most importantly in their eyes, they are no longer where they once were or want to be.