Calderwood keen on idea of title tilt on ‘fight island’

Joanne Calderwood relishes the idea of her historic UFC title tilt against flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko taking place on Dana White’s mystery ‘fight island’.

Calderwood is set to become the first female from the UK to fight for a UFC crown when she takes on Shevchenko, who withdrew from a planned June 6 bout after undergoing leg surgery but is expected to return later in the summer.

It is, as yet, unknown when or where that contest will take place because of the uncertainties caused by coronavirus but the UFC is set to resume on May 9 with three fight cards in eight days in Jacksonville, Florida.

Joanne Calderwood, right, is expected to take on Valentina Shevchenko later this summer (Craig Watson/PA)
Joanne Calderwood, right, is expected to take on Valentina Shevchenko later this summer (Craig Watson/PA)

The behind closed doors shows at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena seem to be a stop-gap solution during the crisis as White, the UFC president, looks at hosting events from June on a private island at an unknown location.

Such a prospect is tantalising for Calderwood, who told the PA news agency: “I love the idea of the fight island, that would be a great opportunity and kind of like ‘what the hell!’

“It’s something to tell the grandkids, right? The whole background to the story would be pretty crazy and pretty awesome to be a part of that.

“When I’m out on my run, I’m always thinking of these weird scenarios. This is what’s happening right now, it’s not the norm, so I have to be thinking even though there are crazy thoughts to be having.

“You have to have that mentality of anything could happen and (the fight) could be anywhere.

“I think the fight island is going to be good for (safety) because you just grab your small team and go out to fight island, where you’re not going to be in public.”

Calderwood, who has won 14 of her 18 mixed martial arts contests, insists she will not be treating what will be a landmark fight for female fighters from these shores with any greater reverence.

While she recognises its significance – she will also become the first Scot to fight for a UFC title – and the long journey that has taken her to this stage, Calderwood is fully focused on the next few weeks and months of training.

Speaking from her base in Las Vegas, the 33-year-old from Kilmarnock added: “There’s a lot of pressure that comes with the fight if you look into it but I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole.

“I’m just grateful I’m getting this opportunity and I know it will happen.

“It’s exciting to me. When I first started this, I couldn’t imagine being in this position but I’ve just gone with it and taken opportunities that have came to me – and I’ve enjoyed it.

“Sometimes I find myself thinking ‘Jeez, I’m from Scotland, this is not supposed to happen’. But I’m not going to treat this any differently from any of my other fights.

“I know she’s going to be the toughest girl that I’ve fought but also it’s just that the weeks before it, that’s in my control. Everything I’m going to do is going to lead up to that point

“I’ve been in this for 20 years and I know it’s led me to that point so I’m just going to enjoy the moment and put on a show.”

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