UK favorite Joanne ‘Jo Jo’ Calderwood will finally return to action this weekend when she braves enemy territory to face Valerie Letourneau at UFC Fight Night 89. In preparation for this fight, Calderwood has been training at Tristar in the event’s host nation of Canada.
Tristar is among the world’s leading MMA training grounds and houses the likes of former UFC welterweight champ Georges St Pierre and top 170lb contender Rory MacDonald, the latter of which will headline this weekend’s UFC Fight Night card opposite Stephen Thompson.
“GSP takes a class every week, I was training under him. And obviously Rory’s fighting on this card as well so he’s been in camp. It’s been great,” Joanne told FO. “Just being in the same room as them is really inspiring. It’s great to train with them, and Firas (Zahabi, Tristar head coach) has been my main coach. It’s been great to learn from him.”
Things have been rocky for Calderwood since joining the UFC. She is currently 2-1 inside the Octagon. A shocking submission defeat to Maryna Moroz last April – the first loss of her pro MMA career – set her back but the Scottish Muay Thai specialist rebounded with an inspiring win in her home country three months later. Calderwood was then scheduled to face Paige VanZant in December but was forced out with an MCL injury.
Having taken some time to recover, switch training camps and focus on herself, the TUF 20 standout now feels rejuvenated and ready to perform.
“I feel like I’ve put everything together,” said Jo Jo. “Before, I wasn’t really doing wrestling and jiu-jitsu for MMA, and I feel I’ve been able to come to Tristar – everything they do is MMA related – and put that into my game. I’ve realized everything is related… I feel like a more complete fighter.”
The Glasgow native enjoyed overwhelming home support when she fought on the UFC’s first ever Scotland card, defeating Cortney Casey via unanimous decision. Now she will find the shoe on the other foot when she faces French-Canadian Letourneau in Ottawa. But she will not be phased by the potentially hostile crowd.
“I’m not really thinking about it. I know there’s going to be a lot of support there for me as well. Scotland was different because most of the people were there to support me, so I embraced it. But Saturday night, when it comes to it, I’m just going to be in the zone.”
“I just hope there’s a good atmosphere and everyone has a good time watching our fight,” she added.
Calderwood vs. Letourneau will be the first female flyweight (125lb) bout in UFC history. The division has not yet been officially created for the female fighters, but the UFC are reportedly using this contest, as well as possible future contests, to test the waters. Though she isn’t against returning to strawweight where she has competed her whole MMA career, Jo Jo is happy to be feeling fresher than ever this week.
“I feel great,” she said. “The whole training camp I’ve not had to worry about, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to cut all this weight and stuff.’ I’ve still got energy right now to train. Usually the last two weeks, for myself personally, I’m really drained and have no energy to train. So it’s been great that way and I’m going to make weight easily. It’s one less thing to worry about.”
“To be honest, if I’ve got enough preparation I can always make strawweight and I’ve always made it without difficulty,” she continued. “It’s just nicer to have more energy… Anything you do in life, if you take out food it just makes it that wee bit s**tter (laughs).”
UFC Fight Night 89 takes place June 18th at the TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.