An interview with Joanne Calderwood
Joanne Calderwood is undoubtedly one of the fan favourites among the new UFC Strawweight division. Not only is she incredibly humble and softly spoken, but she has some serious Celtic skills and flies the Scottish flag high. She is currently unbeaten in MMA with a record of 8-0-0, and her Muay Thai record is an incredible 19-2-0! In this interview we talk to her about the UFC and her future goals, her Muay Thai background, and we ask her a few questions that will help you get to know what makes her a winner. We're absolutely delighted to have gotten this chance to hear from her in the media frenzy that is…
the run up to the filming of TUF 20.
Hi JoJo, thanks for taking some time out to speak to us today! How has life changed for you since signing the all-important UFC contract back in December?
“To be honest it hasn't really changed - I haven't let it, I am still training just as hard and my goals are still the same.”
You train at The Griphouse in Glasgow… has the training regime itself changed for you at all as you prepare to enter the UFC octagon?
“Like I said nothing has really changed, I want to be the best fighter that I set off to be at the start and I am just trying to get better and enjoy training. I'm really loving training for TUF as I'm being exposed to lots of different styles and working on a lot of different techniques. I love being creative and experimenting in the gym.”
We can’t wait to see what you have in store for everyone! With the UFC now beginning to open the doors on Women's MMA, where do you see the sport heading in the next five years?
“It is growing so fast so I can see it having more weight divisions, more fighters getting to compete at the highest level of the sport should make the sport evolve quickly too. There will be more women champions and I'm planning to be one of them.”
We don’t doubt it! We know that you’re not a girl that bares grudges or gets involved with trash talk, so with such elements out of the question, if we look through the other fighters in the UFC Strawweight division - who do you personally feel would be a good fight for you and the fans?
“I'm not much of a talker I express myself when I fight. I think any of the girls will be a great fight. And we will all be looking to take full advantage of our opportunity on the show there shouldn't be a boring fight.”
…And where do you see yourself ranking in the UFC Strawweight division from the start?
“The rankings don't mean anything to me I want the belt and to keep the belt as a dominant champion. I will always train as if I'm a challenger and fight like I'm the champion.”
Now that’s a good quote!
What do you want to achieve by the end of this year? And what are your long term goals beyond that?
“I want to achieve success in TUF 20, and win the UFC belt by the end of the year. I have a few other goals one of them being to defend the UFC belt in my home country Scotland in the future.”
Moving away from the UFC now, can you tell us at what age you first started martial arts, and how did you get into it?
“My mum tells me I started when I was coming into the world I was a determined breech presentation I wanted to come out kicking, legs first haha. But I starting in Muay Thai classes when I was 13, I went with my little brother to a local class and loved it.”
Haha Your poor mother!
Ok, what female fighters have inspired you along the way, perhaps during your time in Muay Thai, and now as you progress in MMA?
“No one in particular really, I respect every female fighter in the sport.”
Can you tell us about your recent trip to Sweden? What was your main reason for going, and what was it like sparring with Swedish Muay Thai world champ Madeleine Vall?
“My trip was great, I really had a great time. I went over to visit my management Manomanagement and they got a few girls in for me to spar with at Allstars gym. Madeleine was awesome I loved her style, and we had some great sparring I'm hoping next time I go over she has got the MMA bug… I think she could do well.”
We’re with you on that, we’d love to see Madeleine in the cage! You first stepped into the cage in Feb 2012, a Pro fight in which you won by TKO in the first round - this is enough to get anyone hooked, but what first made you decide to transition from Muay Thai to MMA?
“I really didn't like what was happening in Thai at the time I was chasing the girl at number one while everyone else was chasing titles. I wasn't interested in being 10 times champ I wanted to be THE champ. I was attracted to MMA because there wasn't a lot of titles out there and the ones that were - they were organisations that had the best fighters in their organisations. MMA is far more professional than Muay Thai from what I've seen and experienced.”
Your last Muay Thai fight was back in September 2012, in which you won the ISKA Flyweight world title - again by TKO! We know many of our readers will be chomping at the bit to know the answer to this one, and it's possibly a tricky question because of your UFC contract… but have you said goodbye to Muay Thai or can we expect to see you in the ring again at some point?
“I've not said goodbye to it for sure I still do it every day ;)”
Haha nice answer!
For the benefit of our global audience, how would you describe the WMMA and Muay Thai scenes in the UK, and specifically Scotland?
“Scotland has a really small WMMA scene, other than me there are a few amateur fighters. The UK scene is a little better with Cagewarriors having active WMMA bouts. There's a few girls fighting Muay Thai in Scotland who are decent up and comers and a few very good English girls making a mark on the world level in Muay Thai.”
Can you name any next generation, up and coming female Scottish fighters that the world might soon become aware of?
“Ellie Burr from AMAG here in Aberdeen is definitely one to look out for, I had the pleasure of working with her and she is an awesome girl. She is so focused and she loves it, she actually reminds me of myself when I was starting out, though she is already a lot better than what I was at the start.”
Before we close we would just like to say what a pleasure it is to get some time with you, and we hope that you'll allow us to visit Scotland in the future for a photo shoot or something. We know that Scotland, the UK and indeed Europe is very proud to have you in the UFC, and we wish you continued success… you are an inspiration.
Do you have any thank yous or shout outs you would like to get in?
“Thank you so much for interview, thanks for the support and I'd love to have you over to Scotland - come with an umbrella and you will be fine ;)”
“Thanks to my team mates that keep me going, all the coaches that help me to get better every practice. My fiancé James Doolan who is constantly improving me as a person and a fighter. My sponsors Sandee, Funky Gums, Physio Effect and SAS Nutrition and my management team Manomangement.”