Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Flyweight veterans Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood will duel this weekend (Sat., Jan. 23, 2021) at UFC 257 inside Ethiad Arena on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Truly, if it were not for Valentina Shevchenko, we would be forced to question the women’s Flyweight division’s entire existence. It is difficult — if not outright dishonest — to say much positive about this match up. Both women have lost two of their last three contests. Eye has missed weight in her last two fights, once by a whooping six pounds. Despite the recent struggles, each athlete is ranked inside the Top 10, and Calderwood is actually entering off a title eliminator.
As such, the victor is probably right back in the title mix, so I am also forced to admit it is a divisionally important fight. Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Record: 15-8 (1)
Key Wins: Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 231), Viviane Araujo (UFC 245), Jessica Rose-Clark (UFC Fight Night 132), Leslie Smith (UFC 180)
Key Losses: Valentina Shevchenko (UFC 238), Cynthia Calvillo (UFC on ESPN 10), Miesha Tate (UFC on FOX 16), Alexis Davis (UFC 170), Bethe Correia (UFC 203),
Keys to Victory: Eye typically wins fights by being more consistent than her opponents. She pushes a solid pace for three rounds and is competent everywhere, so if her opponent is unable to match her volume or has a particular weakness in one area, Eye will typically find a way to capitalize.
In the case of Calderwood, neither volume nor conditioning have historically been an issue. In fact, “Jojo” strikes at a very high rate, generally winning fights by outworking her opponents. More often, Calderwood comes up short when her grappling fails her, either because she is outwrestled or submitted even while in good position.
As a former Bantamweight fighting a long-time Strawweight, Eye should have a size and strength advantage (particularly if she misses weigh again). The best way to make use of these edges would be to press forward behind the jab and look to either time takedowns or catch kicks — two proven paths to scoring top position against the Scottish striker.
Eye has never had a problem with grinding out ugly wins, and it seems the time to wrestle.
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), Jennifer Maia (UFC Vegas 5), Cynthia Calvillo (UFC Fight Night 113), Jessica Andrade (UFC 203), Maryna Moroz (UFC Fight Night 64)
Keys to Victory: Calderwood does her best work at range, confounding her opponent with a wide range of teep and snap kicks. She can really break down her opponent with kicks, but more recently, Calderwood has also been more active with her takedown attempts, which has been working will ... until she got armbarred from top position last time out.
Eye is a boxer first and foremost. She’s not particularly fast or able to suddenly close distance. That’s why Calvillo was able to confound her with movement then time takedowns as Eye overcommitted to her punches in an attempt to close the distance.
For Calderwood, the answer to Eye is kick and move! Eye will have a very difficult time establishing her jab if it’s simultaneously met with teeps to the stomach and hard kicks to the calf or thigh. Calderwood has to be careful of having those kicks converted to takedowns, but focusing on really kicking off her leg should help mitigate that risk.
The addition of Jessica Andrade helps a lot, but yeah, this division still leaves something to be desired.
It is not impossible, but nor does it seem likely that Eye ever receive another title shot. At least, she will not get another chance while Shevchenko is around, and well ... that seems fairly permanent at the moment.
On the other hand, Calderwood is a Top 10-ranked women’s Flyweight who has yet to challenge for the title. Better yet, she’s fairly popular. As a result of those two factors, she’s never that far off from a title opportunity if the division shakes off the right way. A win here certainly helps her position, and one more could be all that’s necessary to bite the “Bullet.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 257 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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At UFC 257, Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood will face off. Which woman will earn the victory?