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UFC 210 fight card: Cynthia Calvillo vs Pearl Gonzalez preview

MMA: UFC 209-Cooper vs Calvillo Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight grapplers Cynthia Calvillo and Pearl Gonzalez will scrap this Saturday (April 8, 2017) at UFC 210 inside KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.

About six weeks ago, Calvillo was a complete unknown to most fight fans. Then, she received a late notice call up to UFC, where a failed weight cut created an opening on the main card. Calvillo capitalized with a big win, and now she’ll look to do the same thing on another pay-per-view (PPV) card just one month later. Like her opponent, Gonzalez is a well-regarded Strawweight prospect. She’s clearly been on UFC’s radar for some time, as this was no replacement. Instead, the fight between these two prospects was created and added to the card last minute to bolster it.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both women:

Cynthia Calvillo
Record: 4-0
Key Wins: Amanda Cooper (UFC 209), Montana Stewart (LFA 1)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Calvillo has officially been a professional fighter for just eight months, but that debut was delayed by injuries. Inside the cage, Calvillo has proven to be a well-rounded athlete, but she’s particularly dangerous on the mat.

She’s finished three of her four opponents.

In this bout, Calvillo is going to want to put the pressure on her foe early. Gonzalez tends to come out hard early and often finishes her opponents quickly, but she’s also never fought anyone particularly good.

Rather than let her opponent get comfortable, Calvillo should push into range quickly and go to work. With both women coming from a grappling background, someone is going to initiate the takedown before long. In her last two fights, Calvillo has proven quick to reverse takedowns and gain top position, so it ultimately doesn’t matter who shoots.

Once Calvillo is on top, that’s her wheelhouse.


Pearl Gonzalez
Record: 6-1
Key Wins: The best record of any of Gonzalez’s past opponents at the time of the fight was 2-0, so in this case, it’s none.
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: A jiu-jitsu purple belt with four submission wins to her credit, Gonzalez is definitely most comfortable on the mat. She’s aggressive enough and likes to kick on her feet, but Gonzalez definitely does her best work when she’s able to land the takedown.

This fight may be decided by who’s able to win the wrestling battle.

To ensure that she lands in top position, Gonzalez would be wise to drive her opponent into the fence. In an even — at least on paper — wrestling match, whichever athlete is not pinned to the fence while win that battle more often than not.

That said, Gonzalez doesn’t want to just dive into wrestling exchanges with a skilled grappler. In the past, she’s shown to be a fan of high kicks, which could be just the tool necessary to raise Calvillo’s guard and create an opening for the takedown.

Bottom Line: The winner of this match up is on the fast track to the Top 15.

Calvillo made an impressive statement just one month ago on 10-day notice, and she’s been given another chance to prove herself here. Very few fighters are on the main card of a PPV in their Octagon debuts — the only exceptions are fighters who have already accomplished major thing, such as being a champion from another organization.

Calvillo is about to fight on a PPV for the second time in her eighth month as a pro.

Clearly, UFC has high hopes for her. Another victory justifies them and will earn Calvillo an opportunity against a ranked foe, likely on another high-profile event. If she comes up short, it’s still extremely early in her career, so more experience before attempting to make the climb wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.

Gonzalez is being given a similar opportunity. She may not have picked up a big win last month, but she can still steal Calvillo’s momentum and use it to her advantage. She’s 30 years old and has been a pro since 2012, so Gonzalez should be ready for this step up in competition.

With a win, Gonzalez is likely ready for an opponent inside the Top 15. If she comes up short, Gonzalez will receive another shot, but she’ll be forced to take a step back in competition first.

At UFC 210, Cynthia Calvillo and Pearl Gonzalez will throw down. Which woman will have her hand raised?

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