#4 ranked women’s flyweight contender Cynthia Calvillo is preparing for an intriguing matchup against Katlyn Chookagian (#2) this weekend. After her UD win over Jessica Eye back in June, she’s itching to continue climbing up the rankings with another impressive showing on PPV against a former title challenger on the same card as defending champ Valentina Shevchenko.
UFC 255 is fast approaching this weekend and although many critics believe it’s a weak card, there are plenty of storylines to follow and two championship fights headlining this latest PPV.
Among those storylines surrounds Calvillo, who was initially scheduled to face #5 ranked flyweight Lauren Murphy before a COVID-19 positive test saw her scratched from the bout.
Murphy earned the first submission of her career against promotional newcomer Liliya Shakirova at UFC 254, with a second-round rear-naked choke. Immediately afterwards, she wheeled away to celebrate and passionately called for a title shot after notching up four successive wins.
It’s a stance that she’s gradually cooled off on, not least as Jessica Andrade blitzed past former #1 contender Chookagian the week prior in Abu Dhabi. Inserted as the new no.1, the one-time strawweight champion revealed she was willing to wait for a title shot, as I wrote late last month.
Shevchenko is poised to make the fourth defence of her flyweight strap in the co-main event this weekend against #3 ranked contender Jennifer Maia. However, there’s another intriguing flyweight bout scheduled to feature as part of the five-fight main card on November 21.
Chookagian targets immediate redemption after Andrade loss
Calvillo, now installed as #4 in the division, suddenly has a golden opportunity to inflict further frustration on Chookagian (#2) – who is seeking immediate redemption after last month’s defeat.
On the matchup, Cynthia was understandably happy with the change in opponent when speaking on Monday’s episode of Hablemos MMA in Spanish. She was quoted as saying:
“I defeated the no.1 contender, Jessica Eye. Now I’m going to beat no.2 Kaitlyn Chookagian. She’s a higher rank than Lauren Murphy, so for me that’s a better fight. We did ask Lauren if she wanted to fight this same date and she said no, so we just have to continue moving forward and got this, which is better.
Chookagian is taking a risk here, defending her #2 rank just over a month after losing via TKO (body punches) against Andrade. Although she insisted no injuries were sustained and instead she actually returned to sparring with training partners once back in the US, it’ll be interesting.
Calvillo was full of praise for the division’s top five and although it feels like Murphy could still fight her in future, she referred to legacy fights and bouts which boost her resume as those which really interest her – rather than competing against lower-level competition.
Murphy was left blindsided by the Chookagian-Calvillo booking and has since signed with new management in the hopes that she’ll be represented properly. At 37, she’s not getting much younger where title aspirations are concerned so you can understand the eagerness on her part.
Calvillo’s rise among new contenders at flyweight
Having made her professional debut in August 2016, Calvillo (9-1-1) missed weight in two of her three previous strawweight bouts before opting to move up to flyweight (125lbs).
It’s still early days as far as her divisional switch is concerned, but the 33-year-old’s stock rose considerably after convincingly beating Jessica Eye in their June main event.
She landed 51% of her total strikes (150/294) and 48% of her 237 significant shots against the-then #1 contender, while completing four of seven takedowns to boot. By comparison, Eye landed just 70-of-283 strikes (25% success) in 25 minutes – an average of 14 per round.
Saturday’s UFC 255 card, is as follows
Flyweight: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs Alex Perez
Women’s flyweight: Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs Jennifer Maia
Welterweight: Mike Perry vs Tim Means
Women’s flyweight: Katlyn Chookagian (#2) vs Cynthia Calvillo (#4)
Light-heavyweight: Mauricio Rua (#14) vs Paul Craig (#15)
Flyweight: Brandon Moreno (#2) vs Brandon Royval (#6)
Middleweight: Joaquin Buckley vs Jordan Wright
Women’s flyweight: Antonina Shevchenko (#15) vs Ariane Lipski
Welterweight: Daniel Rodriguez vs Nicolas Dalby
Welterweight: Alan Jouban vs Jared Gooden
Middleweight: Kyle Daukaus vs Dustin Stoltzfus
Welterweight: Louis Cosce vs Sasha Palatnikov
Fight card is subject to change
Pictures’ source: Bleacher Report, MMAFighting