Cynthia Calvillo is looking to reinvent herself as a member of the UFC’s women’s flyweight division after multiple missed weight cuts and a brief USADA suspension at 115 pounds. The new journey starts later tonight (Sat., June 13, 2020) at UFC on ESPN 10 live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, as Calvillo takes on former title challenger Jessica Eye in the main event.
Calvillo, 32, has been a productive member of the UFC roster since her arrival in 2017. With wins over the likes of Joanne Calderwood, Amanda Cooper, and Cortney Casey, Calvillo quickly made a name for herself as one of the grittiest fighters in the strawweight division. She will now have the opportunity to prove that she can take her talents up in weight and be as effective, if not more.
“I actually asked for that fight,” Calvillo told MMA Junkie. “We had just got into the gym. I talked to them and told them I wanted to fight in July, and then I was watching everybody in the flyweight division – you know, in the top 10 – getting booked for fights, and I’m like, ‘Man, dude, like if I don’t get up on this and try to get a fight, then I’m going to be left out.’
“So I noticed that there were probably like two fighters that hadn’t been matched up, which was Jessica Eye and Jennifer Maia. But Jennifer Maia, of course she’s in Brazil, and I didn’t know how the restrictions were going to be. So I was like, ‘Well, Jessica Eye. Let’s go for it.’ So I messaged my manager, and I told him, ‘Hey, does Jessica Eye have anything booked? If she doesn’t, I would love to fight her in July.’ He was like, ‘Let me ask.’ He came back with, ‘Uh, how about main event in three weeks?’ Well, all righty then. So that’s pretty much how it happened.”
Luckily for Calvillo, UFC was willing to book her against a proven veteran like Eye. While “Evil” isn’t unbeatable — evident by her 5-6 record inside of the Octagon — she’s one of the toughest fighters on the roster. It’s a tremendous test for a divisional newcomer like Calvillo, but one she greatly appreciates, especially during these difficult times.
“I’m super thankful,” Calvillo said. “I think the UFC has had my back, honestly. I mean, I’ve had two co-main events, and now I’m in the main event, and especially considering with the struggles that I’ve had these last years, for them to put me on there, it means a lot. I really didn’t think I was going to get an opportunity like that.
“I felt like I needed to establish myself a little better in the flyweight division before I got a slot like that, but it’s here, and I’m super grateful. I’m really, really happy and blessed to be able to fight for this organization and for them to continue to support me.”
With no plans to drop back down to 115 pounds, where she missed weight twice in her last three Octagon appearances, Calvillo is hoping to take the flyweight division by storm and quickly work her way to the top.
“I want to go in there guns blazing, and I want to prove that I’m one of the best in the world,” Calvillo said. “You’ve just got to keep fighting. The last few months have not been very busy as much as I want. Definitely slowed down a lot, so I’m excited to just get matched up. When I beat Jessica Eye, if they tell me do I want to fight for the title, ‘Yes, I will.’ If they tell me I need to wait, I need to take another fight, I will fight. I want to stay busy.”
While Calvillo is already seven fights deep into her UFC career and new American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) member believes she is only scratching the surface. Headlining an event on ESPN during a global pandemic is the perfect way to show her improvements and set her up to fight anybody the promotion wants to throw her way.
“I want to fight everybody on that roster – of course the girls, not the guys, and I don’t know about Amanda Nunes, either,” explained Calvillo. “But I love doing this, man. I don’t know how to explain it. There’s nothing on the planet I’d rather being doing than doing martial arts and fighting, so I want to be able to do this as long as I can. It is something that doesn’t last forever.
“Father Time is undefeated, so as long as I can get to the best shape that I possibly can and do what I can – I want to be a legend in this sport, and I feel like I’m barely scratching (the surface). I want to put more names beneath my belt. This is a great start. This is exactly where I want to be.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 10 fight card HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.