In the featured preliminary bout of UFC Vegas 56 on Saturday, Kowalkiewicz scored a second-round submission of Herrig via rear-naked choke to record her first win since April 7, 2018, and her first finish since May 17, 2014. An emotional Kowalkiewicz immediately burst into tears following the tap, which came at the 4:01 mark of Round 2.
Watch the dramatic finish above.
Prior to the announcement of the official decision, Herrig removed her gloves and placed them in the center of the octagon, a traditional sign of retirement. She was then given the opportunity for a post-fight interview, where she confirmed that this would be her last fight.
“It’s been an honor being in the UFC for eight years and fighting for 20,” Herrig said. “The biggest thing for me was I had two ACL surgeries and I really wanted to not go out like that. I wanted to prove to myself that I can overcome two knee surgeries and come back and still fight at the highest level. I felt better than ever in training, my mind felt great, I had so much good energy and positivity and great people around me, great coaches, but I knew that if I wasn’t feeling it in the cage that it was just going to be my last fight. And not in a bad way, I just feel like there’s something else for me.
“It’s time for me to close this chapter in my life, which is really sad because I’ve committed the past 20 years to it, but it’s just time to move on to something else.”
Herrig, 37, has fought professionally since 2009, becoming a notable fighter on the regional scene long before the women’s flyweight division was implemented by the UFC, including being a featured fighter in the Supremacy MMA video game back in 2011. After competing for Bellator and Invicta FC, “Lil Bulldog” made her way to the UFC as a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 20.
In 10 UFC appearances, Herrig compiled a 5-5 record and at one point recorded four straight victories from July 2016 to December 2017. She ends her pro career on a four-fight skid that brings her final record to 14-10.
Kowalkiewicz (13-7) snapped a five-fight losing streak with the win on Saturday, avoiding the dubious distinction of becoming the first woman to lose six straight UFC fights. The one-time UFC title challenger now has a 6-7 record for the promotion.