Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight submission ace Cynthia Calvillo took on Muay Thai specialist Joanne Calderwood yesterday (July 16, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 113 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland.
Calvillo has to be among the year’s most surprising stories. Still in her first year as a professional fighter, the Team Alpha Male product had already picked up a pair of wins on the main card of pay-per-view (PPV) events and picked up a spot in the rankings. This was a step up in competition, but Calvillo nevertheless entered as the favorite.
On the other hand, Calderwood’s UFC career has been something of a mixed bag. She only looked truly great in her one bout at 125 lbs., which is likely where she was heading after missing weight ahead of this match up.
Unexpectedly, this one started a bit slow. Calderwood took the center and pressured with lots of feints and lead leg kicks, while Calvillo circled around and looked to bounce in with punching combinations to the head and body.
With a minute remaining, Calvillo switched it up with a takedown and briefly took the back. Calderwood was able to switch position and wind up in guard, but she immediately landed in an armbar. Calvillo swept her to her back and worked to break the grip. Calvillo was hammering the body and yanking on the arm when the bell went off.
Considering how close it was on the feet, Calvillo’s late ground surge earned her the round.
The kickboxing in the second continued in similar fashion to the first. Calderwood landed some decent kicks and was slightly more active, whereas Calvillo was the one connecting on her punches more frequently.
With about 90 seconds remaining in the round, both women landed. Calvillo scored with a nice flurry, but Calderwood answered with a nasty spinning back fist. For the rest of the round, Calderwood did a nice job of advancing behind kicks and keeping Calvillo away from the takedown.
The Scottish athlete was bloodied up, but it was potentially tied heading into the third round.
Calderwood started the final round with a lot of kicks. Though most didn’t land, they kept her opponent on her back foot and made it difficult to find takedowns or punches. Nevertheless, Calvillo’s occasional flurry made it very close, as neither woman was able to take clear control of the kickboxing.
Once again, Calvillo scored a very important takedown with less than a minute remaining. Also for the second time, Calvillo was able to take the back quickly. This time, she sunk her arm under the chin, and Calderwood was only able to escape by the mercy of the bell.
The judges unanimously awarded the victory to the up-and-coming American.
This was a strong and well-rounded win from Calvillo. She was able to strike with Calderwood — the Muay Thai champion — for much of the fight, and she never really took much damage or fell behind. In fact, two of the three judges awarded her the second round, which entirely took place on the feet. Plus, she bloodied and bruised Calderwood’s face with her punches, which definitely counts for something.
Ultimately though, Calvillo could have won the decision without using her kickboxing. Her takedowns and instant back takes at the end of the first and third were huge, and it showed the gap in their respective ground skills. Calvillo could hang with Calderwood on the feet, but Calderwood was lost on the mat in each scramble.
Now a top 10 fighter, Calvillo can continue moving up the ladder.
As for Calderwood, she never really let loose. She was able to land a decent amount of kicks, but most were far from devastating. Additionally, when Calvillo did look to close range, Calderwood did well to circle out but did not punish the attempts. The elbows and knees that she is best known for were largely absent.
Part of that hesitancy is likely respect for Calvillo’s ground game, which makes sense considering how Calvillo came very close to two separate submissions in probably 90 seconds total of grappling. Another part of it may be due to her weight class, as Calderwood drains herself quite a bit in an attempt to make the Strawweight limit.
Hopefully, her next bout at Flyweight will show improvement.
For complete UFC Fight Night 113 “Nelson vs Ponzinibbio” results and play-by-play, click HERE!