Looking past an upcoming opponent is considered a cardinal sin for any fighter. Do it, they say, dare to dream big, and it may well blow up in your face.
It’s why Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood is refusing to entertain the idea of title shots or other fights when a match against prospect Cynthia Calvillo is only six weeks away. She knows a win against the American on July 16 will put her career right back on track, and throw her immediately into the mix again, but is equally aware of how quickly things can go awry. One minute you’re up, the next you’re licking wounds following a shock defeat.
It’s this maturity and experience that separates Calderwood and her 29-year-old opponent. Calderwood, 30, knows how unforgiving the sport of mixed martial arts can be. She has tasted its wrath firsthand. Calvillo, in contrast, is undefeated in five bouts and has yet to face adversity in her fledgling career, much less suffer defeat and have to recover.
Setbacks change fighters. Calderwood knows this now. She’s in the process of bouncing back from one now, in fact. Not only that, she has had to watch Jéssica Andrade, the last woman to defeat her, fall some way short in a subsequent UFC women’s strawweight title shot against the masterful Joanna Jędrzejczyk, a reminder yet again of both the hierarchy and the talent of the woman who sits on top of the pyramid.
Reality check of sorts, the two fights combined – her defeat to Andrade, and Andrade’s defeat to the champion – served as a reminder to Calderwood that patience really is a virtue in the sport of MMA.
“Obviously I rate Joanna very highly,” Joanne told Fighters Only. “It was a great fight. Jéssica did well to survive all five rounds. I sent Jéssica a tweet to congratulate her because she went in there and never gave up. I thought she might take it to the ground more often.
“Joanna’s the one holding the title belt and it’s a great achievement. Maybe a few years ago I had my eyes on her and was more interested in a fight with her, but now I’m just concentrating on myself. I know the title shot will come when it’s supposed to come, but I have to keep winning and performing. I can’t concern myself too much with who is at the top.
“I’m interested, obviously, but I can’t be too focused on that. It gets disheartening after a while. If you’re thinking I really want to fight her, or I’m next in line for a title shot, it takes something away from the journey to get there. I’m trying to enjoy where I am right now. I don’t want to look too far into the future. I still feel like I’m trying to get my career started and that these things will come in time.”
Joanne has often imagined what it would be like to share an octagon with Joanna. But less so these days. Today, Calderwood, 19-2, is more concerned with getting back in the win column, righting the wrongs of her defeat to Andrade and simply letting time do its thing.
“Joanna’s great for the division and the longer she holds on to the title, the better it is for me,” she said. “When I keep winning, eventually the title shot will come and it will be more of an achievement for me when I take it off her if she’s been holding it for a long time.
“I’ve looked into the future before and it hasn’t worked out well for me. Losses follow wins. You get carried away thinking things are going to happen, but life is not like that. Life throws obstacles in your way and you have to be ready for them. I’m ready now.”