After a meteoric rise in her debut year, Scotland’s only professional female MMA fighter, Joanne Calderwood is looking to build on her unbeaten record when facing Australian Bec Hyatt at Invicta FC 4 on January 5th.
A multiple time Muay Thai champion, Jo has honed her MMA game at the Griphouse gym in Glasgow and after a brace of wins at home either side of a trip to fight under the SFL banner in India (comfortably defeating a nine fight veteran in only her second pro bout) she got the call from Invicta and made a big impression on her debut, scoring a highlight reel knockout over highly regarded American fighter Ashley Cummins with a knee to the liver in the first round. That unbeaten debut year has been capped of by Jo winning both Personality and Performance of the Year in the Scottish MMA Awards.
Coming back for her sophomore outing in Invicta, at an event where the promotion will crown it’s first champion in her weight class, Calderwood’s match is one of the most hotly anticipated on the card.
We’d like to thank Jo for taking the time to answer our questions and it’s time to turn it over to the girl herself.
1 – How long have you been involved in MMA, where did you start, what was your first discipline?
I’ve been involved in MMA for a few years now but only been fighting MMA for about a year, as I had real trouble getting matched initially.
I started from Muay Thai which was my first discipline almost 15 years ago, competed all over the world winning European and a world title, I had my eye on MMA for a little while before I started training for it.
2 – This is your second fight in Invicta and a win would put you on an unbeaten 5-0 streak. Do you think that would get you a title shot at the winner of Esparza vs. Gadelha?
I’m not really looking past this fight. I’m really focused on getting another win and putting on a great fight. The Invicta championship belt is one of my goals in the sport though and il be watching the Esparza v Gadelha fight with interest.
3 – You won your last fight with a scary looking knee to the liver that was copied a week later by none other than Anderson Silva. How does it feel to have the greatest MMA fighter of all time stealing your moves?
Haha…I love everything about Anderson’s style in and out of the cage. I like how calm he is in there and just how well rounded he is, the fact he seems to be inventing new moves and performing the way he does at the very highest level so consistently is something I admire. I’ve been giving the nickname Joanderson silva which has stuck, being compared to the pound for pound best fighter on the planet isn’t a bad thing
4 – You’re best known as a kickboxer, but you’re an accomplished grappler as well. Your opponent Bec Hyatt has two wins by submission. Will you be looking to prove a point and get your first submission win?
I like to test myself where my opponents strongest, when I fought Lena on the SFL show she was 8-1 with 6 wins by arm bar, I out grappled her and she defended my submission attempts. I’m happy to fight anywhere, I’ve been busy in grappling competitions for a few years and l always medal and submit people. The girls Bec has submitted are nowhere near my level.
5 – Despite only having your first MMA bout less than a year ago, this is your third long haul trip. Does the travelling make it harder to focus your training and weight cut in the last week?
I don’t like flying so yea….haha nah to be honest it doesn’t I enjoy going away and even if I was jet lagged I’m not going to let it stop me after the amount of work I’ve put in for the fight, jet lag seems to be an excuse for bad performance sometimes, but it’s all mental. I’ve got experience fighting all over the world in Muay Thai so it wasn’t an issue for me fighting MMA, if anything I knew I would have to travel once I started just because there isn’t a lot of girls around in Europe, especially not ones wanting there pro MMA debut to be against someone with my Thai record.
6 – What difference does it make to come from such a close, tight knit team as the Dinky Ninjas? We’ve seen evidence that you are busting the guys up…
It’s awesome, as much as its me getting in there and fighting, MMA is a team sport and our teams like a big family.
I’m a big Sons of Anarchy fan and often think that we are similar to them apart from the killings and stuff but they have this brotherhood that’s hard to break even when things are tough these guys always have my back and I’ve always got there’s.
7 – It’s been a huge year for the Griphouse with yourself, your fiancé James Doolan and teammates likes Graham Turner, Robert Whiteford and everyone else scoring big wins and bringing some belts back to the gym. Is the Ninja takeover set to roll into 2013?
The team have been doing great things for years and this year was in some ways the result of a lot of things that’s went before, 2012 was a big year for the team and the guys you mentioned 2013 will be bigger though, we plan on carrying the momentum of the last few years on into next year.
8 – To date, you’re Scotland’s only professional female mixed martial artist. Do you feel like a trailblazer and can you see any other Scots girls joining you soon?
We did have a girl that had one pro fight in England but she left and went to wrestling. I would like to see more scots girls joining me, cause we are all crazy bitches but MMA helps me get rid of that mood/psycho bit in me. I was inspired in some ways by WMMA pioneer Rosi Sexton and I’d like to pioneer female MMA fighters in Scotland. I get a lot of media attention and get lots of messages from young girls who like watching me fight and that’s something I really like.
9 – You often use the hashtag #HappyFeet on Twitter. If you had to do a victory dance instead of a post fight interview, what kind of dance would it be?
My coach Paul McVeigh is really disappointment in me as I can’t dance to save myself and he is a self proclaimed awesome dancer and if I wanted to I’m sure I could get him to teach me but not into it.
The hash tag happy feet is when I’m feeling humble like when I think of mumble from the happy feet films which I’ve seen about 50 times.
10 – What would you say to any girls considering taking up MMA?
Tweet me on @badmofo_jojo or message me on Facebook page jojo calderwood I’d be more than happy to answer any questions if it helped. But I’d say ‘just do it’ once you get started you won’t regret it.
Last of all, a shout out to your sponsors, gym etc.
Thanks for the interview and thanks to my sponsors: Scotland’s number one gym the Griphouse, stark, sas nutrition, fight camp, funkygums.com and devils own who are currently designing my signature tee (watch this space)
Make sure you tune in to http://www.InvictaFC.com on the 5th of January where I’ll be throwing a shrimp on the Barbie
Kumite would like to thank Jo for speaking to us a we’ll definitely be staying up late to watch her bring the win back home to Scotland.