UFC FightNight 89 takes place on Saturday night at the TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Canada and sees Joanne Calderwood square off against Canada’s Valarie Letourneau in a specially commissioned flyweight (125-pounds) contest.
Letourneau’s last fight was a five-round battle with Polish superstar Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the strwawweight title, but despite losing a unanimous decision, Valarie impressed with a resilient toe-to-toe performance against the former six-time Muay Thai world champion. Calderwood is also a former world Muay Thai champion and holds a very similar professional MMA record to Jedrzejczyk, but Letourneau expects a totally different fight from the Scot.
The Canadian said: “Both Calderwood and Jedrzejczyk have strong Muay Thai backgrounds but I think they are very different fighters, I am not really worried about the fight with Joanne but I know for sure it will be a stand up battle”.
Calderwood has spent the majority of 2016 training at Montreal’s Tristar gym which is the home of the former welterweight champion and arguably the best MMA fighter of all time, Georges St Pierre, however, Calderwood’s new training environment does not worry Letourneau at all. She said: “I spent ten years at Tristar before moving to Florida and still have a lot of friends there, but we are all very professional and certainly wont talk about the fight or training”.
“I know Joanne has been living in Canada but the crowd will be on my side, I will have the advantage in my home town. There is nothing bad to say about Joanne; she is a nice girl, always humble and respectful. She is a great fighter too so it’s hard to pick who will win, but there is no doubt that we will both put on a great fight”.
Standing 5’7” with a walk around weight of close to 140-pounds, the prospect of the UFC creating a new flyweight division is music to Letourneau ears. She said: “Strawweight is a really big cut for me and I don’t won’t to do it often as it hurts my body a lot. But I’m too small for bantamweight (135-pounds) so I want to see how I perform at flyweight . This is a better division for me as I don’t know how many fights I have at strawweight. In fact, I hope to never fight at strawweight again. Of course, if I have to I will, but I really want the UFC to open a flyweight division. It would be a great division; there are some great fighters currently at bantamweight that are too small and should be fighting at 125-pounds. Another division will open doors for a lot of other ladies that should be in the UFC and that can only be good for the sport”.
Calderwood echoed these sentiments saying: “Flyweight is actually perfect for me; I would be much happier cutting just a little and be able to make weight easier. I would also be able take fights on short notice. A lot of the girls when I was in the TUF house spoke about flyweight and said they would prefer it. I also think some of the bantamweight girls would come down to 125lbs. It would be a great division”.
With the fight now imminent, Jojo is brimming with confidence and can’t wait to get back inside the Octagon. She said: “I’m really looking forward to the fight but I know she is going to be a tough opponent.”
“She’s tough, I’m tough and we both like to stay in the pocket and fight. I just think this will make for a really exciting fight for the fans”.
“I have the confidence to go in there and face anyone and I am hoping to stop her and make a big statement”.
A win against the number five ranked Letourneau will certainly put Calderwood back in the mix for a title run and with fellow Brit Michael Bisping recently winning the middleweight title, Jojo is going into the bout with extra motivation. Jojo said: “MMA in Britain is underrated and Michael’s win will motivate a lot of people, also given that he took the fight on two weeks notice it is really inspiring.”
“I already had that motivation to become the first Scottish champion and I really want to get the title belt, Michael’s win has motivated me more and made me realise that it can happen. The fans can expect to see me excited to be back in the Octagon and putting on a performance. I will give it everything I’ve got and show the fans that I’m better fighter, not only for them but for myself”.
You can watch Joanne in action at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson live on BT Sport on Saturday, June, 18th.
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