Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Flyweight veterans Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo will duel this weekend (Sat., Sept. 25, 2021) at UFC 266 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Given Valentina Shevchenko’s dominance, both former Strawweights have looked to capitalize and score quick title shots. Andrade did indeed manage to find herself locked in the cage vs. “Bullet” after just a single 125-pound win, but Shevchenko remained in a class all her own and turned her away quickly. Alternatively, Calvillo has split her pair of Flyweight bouts, but she’s still managed to climb into the Top 5 and position herself reasonably close to a potential Shevchenko showdown.
One woman will return to the win column and Flyweight title mix. Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each athlete:
Key Wins: Rose Namajunas (UFC 237), Katlyn Chookagian (UFC Fight Island 6), Claudia Gadelha (UFC Fight Night 117), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 228), Tecia Torres (UFC on FOX 28), Joanne Calderwood (UFC 205), Angela Hill (UFC Fight Night 104)
Key Losses: Valentina Shevchenko (UFC 261), Weili Zhang (UFC Fight Night 157), Rose Namajunas (UFC 251), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 211)
Keys to Victory: The former Strawweight champion of the world has really fought a who’s who of women’s MMA. “Bate Estaca” is a certified powerhouse, capable of brutal slams and single shot knockouts unlike the majority of her peers.
Andrade wants this fight on the feet or in the clinch, two areas where she can deal real damage with her punches and knees. Often, Andrade is the one looking for the takedown, but against a grappler of Calvillo’s caliber, the Brazilian is better off keeping this one standing.
While on her feet, Calvillo likes to circle and pick shots from the outside. Andrade has to close the distance without creating takedown opportunities in the process. Closing distance behind the jab would be a great way to do so, but that’s not really Andrade’s syle. Instead, the Brazilian should make sure to initiate her combinations with body shots, which would guarantee her level is low.
If and when Calvillo does look to wrestle, Andrade has to make her pay for the attempts with close distance power shots.
Key Wins: Jessica Eye (UFC on ESPN 10), Joanne Calderwood (UFC Fight Night 113), Cortney Casey (UFC on ESPN 1), Poliana Botelho (UFC Fight Night 140), Montana Stewart (LFA 1)
Key Losses: Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 255), Carla Esparza (UFC 219)
Keys to Victory: Calvillo is one of the best grapplers in whatever division she competes. She really excels in scrambles, quickly advancing position and locking up submissions given small opportunities.
Calvillo has to drag this one to the mat if she’s to win. In some of her past bouts, Calvillo has spent too much time willingly kickboxing with her opponents, rather than playing to her strengths. If she makes that mistake opposite a puncher like Andrade, well ... it’s going to hurt.
Instead, ducking under the wide swings of Andrade should be the goal. Though she punches to the body more than most, Andrade still loves nothing more than to chase after her opponent with giant left hook swings. If Calvillo can angle off, remain in position to wrestle, and duck under such a strike, the takedown should land.
Getting on top and wrangling the neck is without a doubt Calvillo’s best shot at scoring the upset win.
Women’s Flyweight is a bit of a mess.
Andrade got absolutely smashed by Shevchenko, but is she that far off from a rematch? Probably not. There just aren’t many contenders. If Andrade returns to the win column in style here, she could easily find herself back in a title eliminator within another fight or two. Similarly, Calvillo may have lost her last bout, but she’s highly ranked and has yet to face the “Bullet.” If Calvillo upsets the former champion, it automatically gives her a stronger argument than many of her peers for a title shot.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 266 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPNEWS/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 266, Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo will throw down to open the main card. Which woman earns the victory?