UFC flyweight Joanne Calderwood spoke to Pundit Arena MMA about her new lease of life since moving up in weight and her showdown with Ariane Lipski tonight.
Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood is a prime example of a fighter who endured a needlessly strenuous weight-cut simply due to the existence of a 20lb gap between the two women’s divisions the UFC had on offer until recently.
Compared to the mess that is the women’s 145lb division at present, the implementation of the flyweight division has largely been a success. With Valentina Shevchenko sitting atop the rankings, belt in hand, the question now is whether a contender will emerge that can shut down the widespread belief that Val will rule at 125lb for a long, long time.
Calderwood looks to move to 3-0 in her more natural weight-class tonight with by earning a win over Ariane Lipski, a former KSW champion who makes her UFC debut on the UFC Brooklyn prelims.
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Speaking to us here at Pundit Arena MMA, JoJo explained how delighted she is to be finally settling down in a weight-class that she feels suits her best.
“It’s exciting, I feel like flyweight in women’s MMA has always been the most exciting division. For my career, I feel like this is the division I’m meant to be at.
“The biggest thing is that I’m healthier, I felt like it was injury after injury and my lifestyle wasn’t good. I feel like everything has fallen into place now and I have the momentum behind me and my confidence is up. I’m looking forward to going in there Saturday.
“I’m happy. There’s always going to be that part of me that wants to go back [to strawweight] – I feel like I have unfinished business there. That’s where I started my career, I had a lot of goals for that division. I’m trying to be more disciplined as an athlete so flyweight is definitely the way forward for me.
Calderwood’s last outing in the strawweight division came in a co-main event slot in her home country of Scotland, taking on Cynthia Calvillo in a fight that was technically contested at a catchweight after she missed weight.
Losing by way of unanimous decision, JoJo was not seen in action for over a year due to injuries but in her time off, she moved from her original home at Tristar to Syndicate MMA – a switch that when coupled with the introduction of a 125lb division, made for the perfect conditions for her eventual return.
Speaking about the switch-up that eventually saw her score a fantastic triangle-choke from bottom against Kalindra Faria last August, Joanne made it clear that momentum is finally on her side.
“My confidence in my abilities, I feel like the changes that I made – one of which was having female training partners at Syndicate. Roxanne [Modafferi], she’s awesome, we have a great training relationship and I feel like that evolved my game.
“It just made me feel more confident and content having someone to train with, someone who’s the same size as me, someone that shows me problems and gives me trouble in the gym.
“It’s good for me and good for my confidence because then I know that when I go in for a fight I know that I’ve covered everything and that I’ve done what I can in the gym.
As for the idea of facing one of the top prospects in the division on the UFC’s inaugural show on their new deal with ESPN, Calderwood believes her experience will allow her overcome the challenge that Lipski presents to her.
The idea of making a statement on such a big stage is always going to play on the mind but JoJo seemed more excited to be there than anything else.
“When [the card] first got announced, I thought that it was awesome. I didn’t think… at the time I wasn’t scheduled to fight on the show. I’m very excited, it’s a platform that’s going to have so many viewers. I’m looking forward to being able to shine on the night.
“The biggest thing for me is that this will be my seventh or eighth fight in the UFC. Yes, she’s got a lot of potential but her opponents [in the past], they weren’t looking to get into the UFC or are on their way up so. I’ve been in the UFC for four or five years, fighting the best competition. I’m even training with the best competition and I feel like this is going to be the difference.
“[Predictions] aren’t really my thing because I feel like MMA is such a hard game you really don’t know. You’re going on what the other person is going to do. We could go in there and she tries to take me down and it’s going to be a completely different outcome to what I’m planning and visualising so I’m just ready for anything. The main thing is that I’m going in there to do is get my hand raised.
Watch UFC FIGHT NIGHT: CEJUDO vs. DILLASHAW live on BT Sport 2 from 1am, with the prelims exclusively live on UFC FIGHT PASS from 11.00pm.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena