Joanne Calderwood says Dana White told her be ready for UFC 238 title shot, just in case
LONDON – Joanne Calderwood’s next octagon outing is scheduled to last up to three rounds, but she is preparing to be in five-round shape.
That’s not just an extra step to make sure Calderwood is in optimal condition when she meets fellow flyweight standout Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 238 on June 8. That’s also a conscious precaution, just in case something happens to the title fight set to take place that same night between 125-pound champ Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Eye.
Considering how quickly things shift in MMA, that’s certainly not a crazy idea. And, in Calderwood’s case, it comes recommended by none other than UFC President Dana White.
“I saw Dana at the (UFC’s Performance Institute) and he told me that I should be ready, and I said, ‘I’m already ready,’” Calderwood told MMA Junkie today in London, where she’s appearing as a guest fighter at UFC on ESPN+ 5. “And I’m going to be hitting that weight – 125, championship weight – and just be training for a five-round fight. Because you just never know, especially in this sport – it’s such a crazy one. So I’m definitely going to be ready.”
Of course, as clever as this extra step is, it isn’t necessarily simple. Not only will it involve Calderwood being in five-round shape and ready to do without that one-pound allowance, it also means she’ll have to strategize for multiple foes. Regardless of how much weight one puts in opponent-specific preparation, that inevitably plays a role.
To that, Calderwood argues: In a sport as volatile as MMA, isn’t it always useful to be aware of your surroundings?
“In any fight, you could face the opponent changing the week of or even the day before,” Calderwood said. “So I think it’s good to always have your eye on your other opponents, especially people that are on your card.”
In any case, that will be left for Calderwood’s (13-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) coach to figure out. Her job is to listen and be “in the best shape” of her life. Even if those extra rounds aren’t necessary, having something left on the gas tank should help her in the type of fight she expects against “awkward” foe Chookagian (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC).
“She’s a talented girl, but she’s always on her back foot,” Calderwood assessed. “So I’m bringing my running trainers and going after her.”
Even if UFC 238’s title fight goes as planned, though, a title might not be too far in the horizon for “JoJo.” She does, after all, enter the bout on the strength of a two-fight winning streak – and an overall 3-0 run in the UFC’s blooming women’s flyweight division. Calderwood most recently spoiled the UFC debut of former KSW champ Ariane Lipski.
And then there’s the fact that her opponent isn’t in a bad spot, either. Although Chookagian is coming off a loss, it comes with the extenuating factors that it was a split decision, to the current title challenger. Chookagian was on a three-fight streak before that, with two wins at the 125-pound division and one at bantamweight.
Calderwood is currently the No. 14 fighter in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s flyweight rankings, while Chookagian appears at No. 6.
Considering records, timing and circumstances, it’s fair to assume that this bout may very well determine the last challenger to the belt that Shevchenko currently holds. With assumptions often proving dangerous in the UFC, though, Calderwood is probably wise in being slightly cautious in those expectations.
“The division right now is kind of a bit cluster(expletive),” Calderwood said. “People are leaving, going up and going down and then those people coming up, so right now it’s kind of shallow. So anyone could get in there. But I feel like, for me, this will be my fourth win in the flyweight division, so definitely feel that I’ve earned that in the division and can’t see why not, especially if I go in there and put on a good performance.”
By putting on a “good” performance, Calderwood doesn’t just mean winning. Confident that her team has cracked the Chookagian puzzle, the plan is to go there and dominate. She’s expecting an “ugly fight,” but one that she can hopefully make look easy to those watching.
Succeeding in her mission in on July 8 will probably make watching that night’s flyweight title fight all the more interesting. But, though she does have a preference of opponent, Calderwood doesn’t seem too concerned with who comes out on top.
“Yeah, everyone’s got a chance,” Calderwood answered, when asked whether Eye had a chance to beat Valentina. “Honestly, for me, I feel like Valentina is going to take it. But, also, I don’t care who takes it. Obviously, I would fight both of them, but I would want to fight Valentina. I just feel like her style is exciting, it would make a good fight between me and her.”
To hear more from Calderwood, check out the video above.