Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Flyweight talents Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia will collide this Sat. night (Aug. 1, 2020) in the UFC Vegas 5 co-main event from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Calderwood did not need to take this fight. The Scottish striker was already next-in-line for a shot at Valentina Shevchenko’s belt. Sure, “Bullet” is injured, but Calderwood likely still would have found her way into the cage before the end of the year. Instead, she takes a major risk in stepping in on short-notice to face a dangerous veteran. Maia may have lost her last fight, but she’s also proven herself a top Flyweight in previous victories, a definite threat to Calderwood’s current position as the next title challenger.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each combatant:
Key Wins: Andrea Lee (UFC 242), Ariane Lipski (UFC Fight Night 143), Valerie Letourneau (UFC Fight Night 89), Cortney Casey (UFC Fight Night 72)
Key Losses: Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 238), Cynthia Calvillo (UFC Fight Night 113), Jessica Andrade (UFC 203), Maryna Moroz (UFC Fight Night 64)
Keys to Victory: Calderwood’s resurgence at 125 lbs. is as much due to a change in style as it is the move in weight. She’s always been a rangy and high-volume kickboxer, and while that’s still true, Calderwood’s willingness to mix takedowns into her attack more often has yielded major dividends.
Against Maia, mixing it up will be key. The Brazilian really has one way to fight, as she boxes in combination and will occasionally work from the clinch. Calderwood is more versatile, which should work in her favor.
Ideally, Calderwood will avoid the boxing range entirely. At distance, pick at Maia with kicks and maybe the jab, then sidestep whatever return comes back at her. As Chookagian showed last time out, range strikes and movement can definitely frustrate Maia.
Unlike “Blonde Fighter,” Calderwood is better suited to land takedowns as well. If Maia is finding success in gaining entry to the pocket, Calderwood would be well-advised to drop beneath a punch and look to gain top position. Alternatively, clinching would not be a bad move, as that’s an area of strength for both Calderwood and Maia.
Knees against a shorter opponent looking to box tend to land.
Key Wins: Roxanne Modafferi (UFC on ESPN 4, Invicta FC 19), Alexis Davis (UFC Fight Night 148), Vanessa Porta (Invicta FC 16)
Key Losses: Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 244), Liz Carmouche (UFC Fight Night 133)
Keys To Victory: Maia is a bruiser. A representative of the famous Chute Boxe Academy, Maia brings all the aggression one would expect, throwing punches-in-bunches and occasionally capping off those combinations with a kick or clinch knee.
She’s stopped eight of her victories.
Against Calderwood, Maia needs to force the fight. Consistent pressure and cutting off the cage will be important, lest Calderwood simply avoid exchanges. In addition, Maia should look to catch or step through her opponent’s kicks, as Calderwood will be unable to effectively circle while on one leg.
Maia also seems to have a strength and physicality edge over most of her foes. It seems likely that she will hold these advantages opposite Calderwood too, the taller woman who used to fight at 115 lbs. For that reason, bullying her opponent into the fence and pushing into the clinch would be worth a shot, as there’s a chance Maia can really out-muscle and control Calderwood from that position.
Bottom Line: The stakes are high at 125 lbs.
For Calderwood, she’s taking a definite risk here, as there’s nothing to be gained aside from a paycheck. However, it is worth-mentioning that as one of the more recognizable names in a shallow division, Calderwood is never more than a couple victories away from being right back in the mix.
Can Maia steal Calderwood’s title shot? It’s no guarantee. Maia did lose her last bout and miss weight in her last two as well, which is not a good look for a title challenger. However, who else is there really? Cynthia Calvillo is the only other option, and she just recently won her Flyweight debut. The opportunity could go either way if Shevchenko returns before the end of the year!
At UFC Vegas 5, Joanna Calderwood and Jennifer Maia will square off in the co-main event. Which woman will earn the victory?
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