UFC 265 Odds, Prediction, Pick: The Bet to Make for Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne (Aug. 7)

UFC 265 Odds, Prediction, Pick: The Bet to Make for Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne (Aug. 7) article feature image
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Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz looks to break a four-fight losing streak on the UFC 265 prelims against Jessica Penne.
  • Kowalkiewicz has lost to some of the strawweight division’s biggest names, while Penne returned to the octagon after a four-year absence with a win in April.
  • Erich Richter breaks down the matchup and delivers his pick below.

Kowalkiewicz vs. Penne Odds

Kowalkiewicz Odds -134
Penne Odds +114
Over/Under 2.5 (-435 / +300)
Venue Toyota Center
Time 8 p.m. ET
Channel ESPN
Odds as of Saturday afternoon and via FanDuel.

The second women’s fight of the card features two strawweights, — Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Penne. At 115 pounds, this fight should be plenty competitive, although neither fighter is particularly close to a title shot.

However, Kowalkiewicz was victorious against a young “Thug” Rose Namajunas in 2016. Rose has obviously improved now and is the current champion, but that win surely shines on Kowalkiewicz’s record.

Let’s break down where the value is in this prelim matchup.

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Tale of the Tape

Kowalkiewicz Penne
Record 12-6 13-6
Avg. Fight Time 13:38 12:13
Height 5’3″ 5’5″
Weight (pounds) 115 lbs. 115 lbs.
Reach (inches) 64″ 67″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 10/15/85 1/30/83
Sig Strikes Per Min 5.27 2.40
SS Accuracy 39% 33%
SS Absorbed Per Min 5.65 4.45
SS Defense 56% 48%
Take Down Avg 0.10 1.50
TD Acc 12% 23%
TD Def 75% 42%
Submission Avg 0.1 0.6

Penne typically has a size advantage in this division. This one will be less pronounced than usual, Karolina is 5-foot-3 compared to Penne’s 5-foot-5.

Both fighters have really struggled of late. Kowalkiewicz has lost four straight fights and Penne has lost three of four. Penne was also gifted a decision win in her last fight against Loopy Godinez (most people had Godinez winning that fight). Essentially, both fighters need a win.

Penne was once thought of as a future contender for the title. She was actually even money (-115) against Jessica Andrade at UFC 199. She took four years off due to two USADA anti-doping violations. This is absolutely a cause for concern going forward.

In Penne’s last fight, I felt like she was bailed out by poor decision-making from Godinez who was making her UFC debut and was 5-inches shorter than Penne. Cardio was an issue for Penne and Godinez continued to allow her to stand up against the cage in a low-volume clinch setting. If pushed I feel like Penne would have wilted under the pressure.

Moreover, despite a Penne win — 75.3% of fans had Godinez winning that fight — as well as 11-of-17 MMA media scorers per MMA Decisions.

Kowalkiewicz should be a step up in competition, definitely in the striking department. She has a solid jab and the footwork to out-strike opponents with multiple 100-plus significant strike victories to her name.

It has been a rough go for Kowalkiewicz of late. Her losses to Michelle Waterson and Jessica Andrade were rough but they are two real contenders in this division. Penne has not faced a contender since 2016.

Kowalkiewicz vs. Penne Pick

I typically fade fighters who have tested positive for performance-enhancing supplements. Per MMA Fighting, Penne was suspended twice by the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) for anabolic agents.

Karolina has fought the cream of the crop at the division and while she has struggled recently, I think she is more battle-tested and won’t let Penne off the hook when her cardio begins to deteriorate.

Kowalkiewicz ‘s ideal fight is picking apart Jessica with high-volume striking. A different type of fight than Penne fought against Godinez which was grappling heavy.

Penne is a solid grappler — averaging 1.5  takedowns per 15-minutes. That is her path to victory in every fight.

When Penne cannot land takedowns, she is more or less doomed.  She has been out-struck in all five of her last fights.

Furthermore, Karolina should be able to use the larger cage to her advantage. As Sean Zerillo detailed back in April, the larger cage will help fighters who need space to operate, leading to more decisions.

Karolina profiles as needing space to operate and pick up victories. Karolina is a -126 favorite this weekend at FanDuel. In my opinion, she could be bigger as she opened as a -180 favorite.

I see good value in Karolina’s moneyline as well as her decision prop at +120 on PointsBet. I would bet this down to +110, but any lower I would prefer the moneyline, which still sits at a reasonable price.

The Pick: Kowalkiewicz ML -126

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