Heading into her fight this Sunday (July 16) in Glasgow, Scotland, UFC women’s strawweight contender Joanne Calderwood is eager to discover the answers to a number of questions, all of which relate to the promise and potential of her next opponent, Cynthia Calvillo. Calderwood, like so many of us, wants to know if the undefeated Calvillo is as good as we’re told she is. She wants to see if she has the necessary experience to live among the elite at 115-pounds. She also wants to find out if UFC President Dana White is bang on the money or over-egging the hyperbole when he says Calvillo, 5-0, has the potential to be the next female fighting star of his company.
Unlike the rest of us, though, it will be Calderwood’s job to get these answers from Calvillo and to test her to such an extent that more of the truth is revealed. It’s a challenge the amiable and soft-spoken Scot accepted without hesitation and now, days from fight night, is one she is seemingly relishing.
“I just know what everyone else knows (about Calvillo),” Joanne told Fighters Only. “I’ve seen her fights online and know she’s this kind of exciting fighter. My team mates and my coach, Firas (Zahabi), have watched her and there’s a few things we have to look out for, but the main goal is to concentrate on myself, go out there, apply my game, give it to her and then see what she brings to the table. I respect her and stuff, but I don’t want to get too caught up in worrying about her. I’m not going to be too bothered about what she brings. I’m just going to do my job.”
The last time Calderwood competed in Glasgow, two years ago, she left with a unanimous decision victory over Cortney Casey. A highlight of her five-bout stint in the UFC, Calderwood admits she didn’t expect to return to her home country so soon, but is delighted to be doing so, especially as she’s coming off a defeat – a first round stoppage loss to Jessica Andrade last September – and is therefore in need of some added motivation and inspiration, as well as moral support. For Calderwood, 11-2, the importance of victory this weekend cannot be understated.
“I’m very pleased to have this fight in Glasgow,” said the 30-year-old. “This is probably the best fight for me to come back with after taking a few months off and coming off a loss. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait.
“The home crowd does put a bit of pressure on you, because everyone wants you to do well and you want to put on a good performance, but you’re there to get the job done and get the ‘W’. With the pressure comes the support and that will get you through anything. It makes it that bit more exciting. I like being back home. It’s a special feeling fighting at home.
“Obviously, the few months off did me good. I had to make sure my game was a little better and work on a few things. After that, I was just dying to get back in there. It was frustrating waiting around, but that’s part of being a fighter. If it was left up to me, I’d be fighting every month. But it’s not as easy as that. You have to wait for them to tell you when you’re fighting. There’s a lot of frustration. Once I got news of this fight happening, though, all that went out the window. Then I was just excited.”
Happy to be back competing, and happier still to be testing a prospect like Calvillo, it’s fair to say Calderwood is in a good place heading into her crunch clash at UFC Fight Night 113. With plenty at stake, Calderwood is well aware that should she conquer 30-year-old Calvillo, someone who has really impressed in her two UFC bouts to date, she stands to take away a lot of the Californian’s shine and simultaneously launch herself back into title contention.
“She’s very young in the sport,” said Calderwood, “and I’ve got a lot of experience. Not even in MMA, but the fighting world. I had twenty-three or so Thai-boxing fights. I’ve had a lot of ring time.
“In my opinion, she has never been in trouble, whereas I have been in trouble many times and have still managed to pull through. It will be good to see if she can deal with the pressure and is able to stand with me.
“Experience makes you disciplined and makes you want it that bit more because you’ve been through more. If you do ever get in trouble in a fight, you know you’ve got that experience to fall back on. It can help you bite down on the gum shield and fight back.
“I just see me being bigger and stronger than Cynthia in every area. I know she will try and stand with me for the first minute or so but then I know she’ll look to go to the ground. I’m definitely then looking to get back to my feet and keep it standing. I see it playing out the way I want it to go. I’ll keep it standing and beat her up.”