Joanne Calderwood seemed right at home when she defeated Kalindra Faria at UFC Fight Night 135 in August.
“JoJo” put on one of her best performances in the octagon as she defeated the Brazilian fighter by first-round submission. One of the reasons Calderwood had so much success in that fight was her competing at her natural weight of 125 pounds. Once the women’s flyweight division was in full swing this year, The Ultimate Fighter season 20 competitor jumped at the opportunity to compete in this new weight class. It’s a change that Calderwood says not only has made her healthier during fight camp but also in her everyday lifestyle.
“It’s amazing,” Calderwood told MMA News. “I can now start having a healthy lifestyle not just outside of camp but in camp as well. Especially in this game you’ll find a lot of fighters blow up after fights and we shrink down [during fight camp] it causes a lot of stress on your body. I’m just grateful I have the knowledge now that I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m in a good place where I can be healthy year round and have abs year round, not just during fight week.
Calderwood (12-3) only competed once this year but the time off allowed her to make a number of changes outside the cage. She linked up with top manager Daniel Rubenstien (Ruby Sports and Entertainment) who also reps the likes of Michael Chiesa, Mackenzie Dern and Sean O’Malley. She’s also settled into her new team over at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, which for the first time in her career has allowed her to train with women.
“I came to Vegas for the UFC PI earlier this year. I had been speaking with Clint the nutritionist at the start of the year. I just got along really well with him and I liked what he was doing. I felt I was seeing changes. So I was like I’m going out to the PI and see what it has to offer. I was looking for a new gym anyways, the top two gyms [in Vegas] were Xtreme Couture and Syndicate MMA. I kind of started looking online and I really liked [Syndicate MMA head coach] John [Wood’s] pad work so that kind of drew me in. Then I could see he had a girl fighters, so that was one thing I wanted to change. I wanted to be able to train with girls, most of my career I’ve trained with guys. I gave it a few weeks and I liked it. I could see myself being happy and where my career wants to go.”
The 32-year-old will now look for back-to-back wins for the first time since June 2016, when she meets KSW standout Ariane Lipski on Jan. 19 at UFC on ESPN+ 1. Despite the pair having similar records, Calderwood believes her caliber of opponents have been far higher than Lipski’s.
“She’s not fought anyone, if you compare our records, we’re pretty much the same. But the girls that she’s fought, nobody jumps out to me. If you look at the people I’ve lost to, they are up there, have winning records and they’re well-known names. I just feel like experience training wise– like I’ve trained with better girls than she’s fought. I’m not cocky, I’m just very confident with the skill set I have in my career. It’s going to be a great fight but she’s not bringing anything to the table I haven’t seen before.”
Lipski (11-3) will be making her UFC debut and carries a nine-fight win streak into the octagon. The 24-year-old has finished seven of her nine opponents during that span, including five first-round stoppages.
UFC on ESPN+1 takes place Jan. 19 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Flyweight champion Henry Cejudo defends his title against bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in the main event.