A closer look at UFC debutant Ariane Lipski

There are some fighters who seem like they are simply destined to fight for a world title in the UFC, the grandest stage of them all in mixed martial arts. That very thing could be said about Brazilian flyweight Ariane Lipski (11-3) when she broke onto the European women’s MMA scene in the KSW in late 2015.

Despite experiencing a shaky start to her professional MMA career, Lipski impressed while fighting in her hometowns organization Copa Striker’s House in Curitiba, Brazil. There she went undefeated in three fights and as a result got the opportunity to fight in one of Europe’s most prestigious MMA organizations, Poland’s KSW.

Lipski quickly became a household name and a fan favourite in the KSW due to her exciting fighting style and her Polish roots as she dominated her way to the flyweight title. “The Violence Queen” went on to win the belt and successfully defend it twice, cementing herself as the best pound for pound flyweight in Europe and one of the best in the world before even turning 25.

Despite being relatively young for a top contender, all the signs were pointing to the UFC for Lipski as the KSW struggled to find an opponent that would sufficiently challenge the Brazilian.

The call from Dana White came after her second title defence at KSW 42, and Lipski was scheduled to debut in the UFC in late 2018 against Maryna Moroz but that fight then got scrapped as Moroz suffered an injury. Eventually, Lipski managed to secure a fight against Scotland’s #10 ranked Joanne Calderwood (12-3) on UFC’s first ever card on ESPN in Brooklyn on Jan. 19, a week before her 25th birthday.

All of a sudden, it looks like the stars have aligned for Lipski as she now gets to fight on a bigger stage and against a ranked opponent in the flyweight division which really sets up the Brazilian to send a message to the whole division and the newly crowned champion in Valentina Shevchenko with a win in Brooklyn.

Ahead of her long-anticipated debut, we spoke to Ariane Lipski about her match up with Calderwood and how she feels about finally getting to step into the Octagon:

Q: How do you feel about your UFC debut, what’s going through your mind going into fight week?

AL: I’m very happy and excited to debut in the biggest MMA organization in the world. Getting closer to the fight, I’m feeling very confident. The only thing in my mind is that I’ve had a great training camp and I feel like I’m in the greatest shape of my life.

Q: You’ve spent some time in America in preparation for this fight, are you happy with your camp?

AL: I did most of my camp in Curitiba with my team, Rasthai, and then we decided to finish the camp in the USA for several reasons. One of them was to train at King’s with Rafael Cordeiro and Sabina Mazo (6-0), who is a great athlete with a similar style to Calderwood. The camp was better than expected, I trained with world-class fighters like Jady Menezes (3-1), Jennifer Maia (15-5-1) and Sabina Mazo and now we can put all of the strategies into practice.

Q: How do you feel about your match up with your opponent?

AL: I believe UFC made this fight on purpose. We are two strikers with big hearts and for sure we will put on a show. I couldn’t ask for a better fight for my debut.

Q: Calderwood is a known name in the UFC, are you happy that you got a big fight for your debut and not an ‘easy win’?

AL: I was very happy with the opportunity to fight a ranked opponent in the UFC. It’s actually what we wanted because what motivates me the most in this sport are the challenges, and she is the next challenge I will face.

Q: You have a huge amount of support behind you from Polish and Brazilian fans, what does that kind of support mean to you going into this fight?

AL: Yes. Brazil is my country but Poland became my second home when they received me with so much love. They chose me as their representative and I have Polish roots in my blood so I feel like I am representing Brazil and Poland when I enter the cage.

The confident Lipski goes into the fight against Calderwood riding a 9-fight win streak and not having lost for over three years, looking to enter the UFC with a bang by taking out a big name in her debut. A win here would certainly set “The Violence Queen” up for a fight against an opponent near the top end of the division as she seeks to move towards the UFC gold.

For Calderwood, it is an opportunity to start putting together a title challenge in her preferred weight class after a rough spell at straw-weight (2-3). Slamming the brakes on the Lipski hype train would boost Calderwood’s stock in the flyweight ranks and cement her as one of the top contenders in the division.

This bout between the two very gifted strikers has a lot on the line for both fighters and has the potential to be a barn burner and a quiet fight of the night contender as one of the ladies will look to come out of this fight within reaching the distance of the next shot at the 125 straps.


Sports journalist based in CA, USA. Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos

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