Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey and Cynthia Calvillo squared off tonight (Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019) from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, live and free on ESPN. Ranked number 11 and 12 on the strawweight rankings, this was a bout for top ten status, and expected to be a striker vs. grappler matchup, with Calvillo looking to establish her grappling over ‘Cast Iron’. Calvillo opted not to make any concerted attempts to take Casey down, striking with Casey for all three rounds.
Calvillo came out circling the outside of the cage, kicking the inside of Casey’s leg. Casey stepped in with a one-two, then Calvillo hit her with a quick knee-to-hook combination. They traded jabs. Casey pressured and they traded in the pocket. Calvillo tried a lead leg high kick. Casey landed a couple good straight punches. Calvillo landed a knee, then a jab to the body. She hit Casey with a hook, switched stances and postured; Casey promptly did her own stance switch, as if to say, I can do that too. Casey slide back to avoid a right hand. Calvillo stung Casey with a right-left combination in the pocket. Calvillo was using in-and-out movement that was throwing Casey off.
Calvillo came out throwing a long front kick in the second round. Casey looked for a body kick of her own. Calvillo finally attempted a single-leg takedown, but didn’t get it. She countered a kick with a right hand that sent Casey off-balance, and she followed her, wrapping her up on the cage, trying to take Casey’s back standing. Casey managed to squeeze out of it. Calvillo jabbed at Casey. Casey and Calvillo traded left hooks. Calvillo landed a right hand to the body and ate a couple leg kicks. The crowd became restive at Calvillo’s pendulum-like movement on the outside without trying to get much going. Casey landed a couple more low kicks. Calvillo stepped in to land a right hand as the round drew to a close. Still no determined attempt from Calvillo to take the fight to the mat.
The third round was more of the same, with Calvillo looking to counter Casey’s low kicks with an overhand right. Casey stepped in with a combination and a knee and Calvillo finally ducked under for a takedown attempt. She landed a knee of her own, but no takedown. Calvillo landed a leg kick, caught one of Casey’s but couldn’t keep hold of it for the takedown. The crowd was full-on booing now. Calvillo landed a superman punch. Calvillo feinted, ate another low kick. They traded punches in the pocket. Calvillo landed a solid counter as Casey stepped in. Casey stepped in with a combination, then they both stood in the center throwing at each other, turning the crowd from boos to cheers for the last few seconds of the fight.
There wasn’t a whole lot to choose between the two fighters, but Calvillo got the judges’ nod, and was happy with the win, saying she would like a top-five opponent next, preferably Tatiana Suarez. That would be a great fight for Tatiana. Calvillo then got the crowd hyped by shouting a string of Spanish and thanking Arizona for hosting the bout.
Official result: Cynthia Calvillo def. Cortney Casey via unanimous decision (29-28x2, 30-27)
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