Ahead of the inaugural UFC on ESPN+ event, which takes place on Jan. 19 at the Barclays Centre, Joanne Calderwood is fully aware of what an explosive performance against KSW champion Ariane Lipski could do for her career.
Since moving to Las Vegas almost a year ago, the Scottish flyweight finally appears to have found the perfect home. She has made some big changes and believes could now be just one win away from a UFC title shot.
After making an initial move from the U.K. to the Tri-Star gym in Montreal, Calderwood (12-3) packed her bags and relocated again, finally settling at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. Having spent years focusing primarily on jiu-jitsu and wrestling, Calderwood switched to a more rounded approach and started to work with female training partners for the first time. The results? She feels her game is all coming together.
“I wanted to make some changes,” Calderwood told ESPN. “I’ve always had to train with other guys throughout my career. They would be smaller and closer to my weight but I thought they were a lot stronger and better than me so that messed with my confidence a lot.
“At least now, with girls who move differently you can’t have that excuse and I knew Syndicate had a good few girls there. I was also looking for a MMA coach and not three of four different coaches, I wanted to have one person telling me exactly everything I had to do in all areas.”
In addition to Syndicate MMA, Calderwood is also making daily use of the UFC Performance Institute, which for her was the primary driving force to head out to the fight capital of the world. The move appears to be paying off, especially in regards to maintaining her nutrition and weight management.
Calderwood’s opponent, Lipski, might be making her UFC debut but “The Violence Queen” is coming in hot. As a former KSW champion with the majority of her wins by way of stoppage, Lipski will be oozing with confidence. The softly spoken Scot is aware of the danger but has vicious intentions in mind.
“She’s got a lot of experience and she’s been fighting for a long time. Her entire career she’s been on big shows,” Calderwood said. “I just feel like she’s going to have pressure, I don’t know what it’s like at KSW, but with the media at the UFC, it is a completely different show.
“I don’t care what anyone says, when you’re fighting, you get jitters, it doesn’t matter where it is, even I will on the night. She’s going to have that to deal with as well. I’ve watched a lot of her fights and I’ve visualized the victory by putting my hand right through her face.”
The UFC flyweight division finally has some direction, with newly crowned champion Valentina Shevchenko a target for the rest of the weight class. Beneath her, however, Calderwood says it’s all to play for.
A win over Lipski would mark back-to-back victories since joining the UFC 125lbs weight class. If it’s a dominant performance, would that do enough to jump ahead of Jessica Eye, who herself is riding a three-fight win streak, and warrant the next shot at Shevchenko? Calderwood thinks so.
“That’s just how the UFC works,” she said. “You can go out there and get a first round stoppage. Exciting performances, that’s what they want to see and obviously so do the fans.
“If I can go in there and make a statement, there’s no reason why I can’t jump Jessica Eye, or maybe even be looking to fight her next.”