There are many worthy candidates for the best female fighter in 2017.
But Cynthia Calvillo is the current front-runner for the honor.
Calvillo would move to 5-0 in the past 12 months if she can get past former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza Saturday night at UFC 219.
The 30-year-old from San Jose currently trains with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, providing the gym with another worthy title contender in the UFC.
Calvillo made her MMA debut as an amateur in 2012, winning four fights before a loss in 2013 to Brenna Larkin. She finished off her amateur run with a decision win over Aspen Ladd in 2014.
Last year, Calvillo made her pro debut, scoring a second round finish over Jessica Sanche-Birch. A win over Gillian Robertson led to a fight at Legacy Fighting Alliance 1 with Montana De Al Rosa.
Calvillo finished De La Rosa in the third round, signing with the UFC shortly there after. In March, she made her Octagon debut, submitting Amanda Cooper in the first round with a rear-naked choke.
Officials took notice of Calvillo, pairing her up with Pearl Gonzalez this past April at uFC 210. She locked in another rear-naked choke, earning a third round submission win this time.
In July, Calvillo was pushed to the distance for just the second time in her career, but was awarded her sixth win overall and fourth of 2017 vs. Joanna Calderwood.
The progression up the ladder has been a quick and rapid one for Calvillo. Now, on the heels of an incredible 5-0 calendar year, she gets her toughest opponent to date.
Esparza is a former Invicta FC champion along with holding the first-ever UFC strawweight belt after her win over current champion Rose Namajunas. She’s also bested the likes of Maryna Moroz, Juliana Lima and Bec Rawlings.
Is this Calvillo’s time to shine? The spotlight will be on the female divisions in Las Vegas this weekend, and for Calvillo, that could be all she needs to see.