Interview with Joanne Calderwood, Fighting October 6th on Invicta FC 3

Today we’re talking with Joanne Calderwood, that’s Joanne the WMMA fighter from Scotland that will be making her Invicta FC debut on October 6th as opposed to the former classroom-teacher-turned-mom who has discovered a FABULOUS approach to education (thank you Google).

Not only does Joanne come to Invicta FC with a perfect 3-0 pro record in MMA but she’s also is ranked #2 by the World Professional Muay Thai Federation and holds not one, not two, but three Muay Thai belts.

How did you first get started and how important is the Muay Thai ranking and your three belts?

I first got started in Muay Thai by accident, when I was about 13 my little brother was meant to go to a class with his friend who stood him up, so my mum asked me to go along to keep him company.

I instantly loved it and begged my mum to let me give up competitive swimming to do the two classes a week, this quickly led to me doing two sessions a day and spending my days training on my own between these sessions.

I currently hold the IKF European title, the WKL European title and the WBC UK title, to be honest titles have never been that important to me as over the years I’ve came across literally hundreds of champions due to the number of belts available and politics in Muay Thai.  The belts I’ve got look good to people coming into the gym and all but I’m more interesting in fighting and staying active.

Ideally if the sport had fewer titles and the best fighters actually fought for them then they would mean a lot more.

Are you still fighting in Muay Thai or have you moved exclusively to WMMA?

I’m actually fighting Muay Thai in two weeks for the ISKA world full Thai rules title against a tough Swedish fighter so my main focus right now is that fight.  The day after that fight I’ll be on the mats wrestling and grappling again getting ready for fighting MMA.  I’ve been having withdrawal symptoms from not grappling during the fight camp for the Thai fight coming up.  I’ll continue to fight in Muay Thai along with MMA and grappling competitions as I love to compete.

Back in May you fought in the Super Fight League’s (SFL) third card and it sounds like you had quite an experience.  Your opponent, Lena Ovchynnikova, started off by repeatedly trying to hold the cage, when that didn’t work she tried head butting you and 50 seconds later she actually went so far as to bite you.  Any reflection on the league or is Lena just a dirty fighter?

Lena’s actions were in no way a reflection on the SFL, the whole experience with them was excellent, I took the fight with Lena on short notice and I’m sure I was brought in there for her to walk over; she was 8-1 and a poster girl for the SFL coming off a bit of an upset loss.  My Team had a look at her and we knew I would beat her.

Like I said the whole opportunity and experience was great, the SFL were brilliant to work with the Indian MMA fans were absolutely brilliant, I did feel the commentary was a little biased in her favor there were times during the bout when the commentators went silent because I was beating her so easy.

I knew Lena was done the minute she fouled me, grabbing the cage, head butting me and even biting me, now when I think about it I just feel sorry for her, I could never get that desperate in a fight that I would have to resort to blatant cheating.

Coincidently enough you’ll also be fighting for Invicta FC’s third card, when did you first hear about Invicta FC, did its reputation in any way effect your decision to sign on or do you just focus on the “who” … in this case your opponent Ashley Cummins who’s also hold a 3-0 professional record.

I first heard about Invicta on Twitter when someone mentioned it to me, after checking it out I was totally hooked, I think it’s great that they are pushing WMMA on that level, I knew immediately that’s were I want to be fighting when I saw the level of the first show  and the fighters involved.

I had a few options with other organizations after the publicity I got in the SFL but I was secretly hoping for Invicta to get in touch and was over the moon when they did.

To be honest I would fight who ever Invicta asked me to fight, if you have watched their first two shows you will see their match making is brilliant, I’ve never seen a mismatch there. When they said I would be fighting Ashley I was excited, she’s very talented and presents me with some new challenges. She’s exciting to watch, I’m expecting our fight to steal the show October 6th.

How much weight will you have to cut for the fight and what are you most looking forward to once the fight’s over?

I’ll cut about 10 pounds over the last week for the fight.  I’m not as big a cutter as some of the other fighters out there. I’ve made the 115 pound limit a few times now and it’s an ideal weight for me.  After the fight I’m looking forward to catching up with my family and team mates and eating what I want for a bit, before I get my head down for another fight.

Talk to me about your training in Scotland; is it easy to find strong sparring and grappling partners?

Apart from the weather and the 60 mile round trip to training every day, training at the Dinky Ninja Fight Team is excellent, the teams pretty well established as one of the top Teams in Europe for smaller fighters. We have a strong stable of over 30 pro fighters with a wealth of experience, lots of active flyweights, bantamweights and featherweights so sparring and training partners are always on hand. We also attract fighters from all over Europe to train with us, we recently had Bellator fighter Ronnie Mann up training with us as well as others. Our gym has a strong Muay Thai team and BJJ competition team as well as MMA fighters and I’m now working with some members of the national Wrestling squad so all areas of training is covered and at a great level.

When are you flying to the United States and where do you plan on training once you get here?  At over 4,000 miles that’s got to be a rough flight to undertake right before a fight and I imagine you need time to recover.

I have experience in fighting abroad many of times and it has never been an issue, I’m a great believer in everything being mental and part of the challenge, fighting away from home has both advantages and disadvantages the same as fighting at home. I only think about the advantages and get on with my job.

You once had the nickname, “the little cyborg” but I recently saw on Twitter that you’re looking for suggestions for a new nickname.  What did the old name mean (any relationship to Cris “Cyborg” Santos of Strikeforce) and have any fans provided good recommendations for your Invicta FC nickname?

I’ve not had any decent suggestions and some I can’t repeat [laughs]. My partner came up with the little cyborg nickname ‘Cyborginho’, it stuck for a few reasons, the first was my mentality in the gym, I just keep going and pushing my limits in the gym, the second was some stylistic similarities between Cyborg’s style and mine, I love the way she fights, hyper aggressive Muay Thai. I’ve been a big fan of Cris since I first seen her fight.

Are there any other fighters, that you look up to and/or look forward to seeing across from you in the cage?

I really look up to my coaches and some of the fighters in our gym, just because I see the work they put in on a daily basis. I’ve always looked up to Rosi Sexton who has pioneered WMMA in Europe and is still going strong, I’m lucky that I get to train with Rosi and pick her brains on stuff. For fighting style I like Cyborgs and look up to her for that, I look up to any the girls who put the hours in in the gym and go out and fight well. Who would I like to see across the cage from me? Anyone who will test me and make me better.

Did you have a chance to see the woman’s boxing in the Olympics this year and what do you think of Great Britain’s Nicola Adams winning the gold at 51 kg?

I watched all the combat sports in the Olympics, I train with some really good Judo guys and they made me watch the judo, I loves the freestyle wrestling but the boxing, especially the females with it being the first time it had been in the Olympics totally captivated me, I was gutted when Natasha Jones lost, Nicola Adams was absolutely brilliant and seemed like a really nice girl but the Irish Girl Katie Taylor stole the show for me, she was the best boxer at the games, male or female she was brilliant.

When I talked to announcer Mauro Ranallo he made a comment that he was blown away by how many people were talking about Invicta during its last fight in July.  A large part of that conversation, and the success that Invicta FC is now seeing comes from fighters such as yourself that are actively promoting day in and day out.  Do you think of Twitter (etc.) as work or would you talk about training/fighting just as much even if it didn’t have a financial impact?

I love Twitter and Facebook, the main thing I use Twitter for is motivation.  I get motivated from Tweets and like passing them on or trying to motivate people from my Tweets. I think the social media thing is really important to MMA more so than other sports as MMA is developing at the same time as social networking.  It’s a great method for helping brands and fighters alike raise their profiles and get their names out there.

While I’m sure Twitter has contributed to the success of Invicta I’m also confident that Invicta would have been success without it, it’s run by good people and they’re pushing the woman’s side of MMA in a way that no one else is.

How did you react when you heard that UFC 151 was cancelled?

I believe that when you are champion you fight and beat anyone that’s put in front of you even if it’s a late replacement.  You’ve done your fight camp and should be ready for the hardest fight no matter who the opponent is.

Pull outs and injuries happen as it is a full contact sport we are in.

After a hard fight camp and you get news that your opponent is out the fight, no words can describe the feeling.  So for the promotion to find you another opponent whether it’s one week or one day, I feel you should be relieved that you still get to fight and I’m surprised that Jon Jones turned the fight with Chael Sonnen down.

Last but certainly not least, I feel for the fans that have planned on going to the event, especially the ones travelling far.

Thank you for your time today, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interview; I’d like to thank Invicta for the opportunity to fight on a great platform alongside some great fighters. I’m sure it will be onwards and upwards for Invicta and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Massive thanks to my team and sponsor’s at the Griphouse gym, STARK Architects and Consulting Engineers, Devils Own and SAS nutrition.

You can follow Joanne on Twitter at @badmofo_jojo

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