Joanne Calderwood’s return to competition after 11 months ended badly after the No. 3-ranked women’s Flyweight was submitted 4:29 into the first round (watch it) by Jennifer Maia at UFC Vegas 5: “Brunson vs. Shahbazyan.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Calderwood passed out backstage following the loss and had to be taken to the hospital.
“She’s okay now,” Calderwood’s manager Danny Rubenstein told MMA Fighting. “She was getting checked out in the medical room and fainted while sitting down. John caught her, they laid her down and carted her out on a stretcher. Heart rate dropped on the way there but stabilized now. She’s awake at the hospital with [coach and fiance John] Wood.”
It’s undoubtedly a disappointing turn of events for “Jo Jo,” who was supposed to fight Valentina Shevchenko for the women’s Flyweight title in June before the champ injured her knee and was forced to withdraw from the bout. UFC offered her Maia on less than two weeks notice after Maia’s original opponent pulled out, and now Calderwood has undoubtedly lost her No. 1 contender spot and has a worrisome medical incident on her resume as well.
Interestingly enough, Calderwood wasn’t the only fighter to faint at the UFC APEX on Saturday night. Trevin Giles also lost consciousness moments before the walkout for his fight against Kevin Holland (details). Commission doctors suspect it was an anxiety-related issue.
There’s still no word from Calderwood’s camp on what could have caused her to lose consciousness, but short notice fights often lead to harsher weight cuts, which could have exacerbated the situation. For her part, Calderwood claimed it was the “easiest weight cut I’ve done, I know it’s short notice and a risk but I was ready and I’m still ready to bang bro!”
Maia pocketed a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus for her slick armbar of Calderwood, and during the post-fight press conference Dana White confirmed she was the new top contender at 125 pounds.
“I have a lot of respect for Jo Jo,” White said. “She’s been working hard and taking her career very serious, and has been back on track since she moved to Vegas. Jennifer looked damn good tonight, so yeah it makes sense for her and Valentina to fight.”