Joanne Calderwood: Flyweight Finally Has a ‘Great Champion’ in Valentina Shevchenko, Hopes to Face Her in 2019

January 18, 2019

Joanne Calderwood has been less than impressed by what she’s seen out of the flyweight division so far in the UFC.

First created last year during ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, the flyweights crowned a champion in Nicco Montano, who then dealt with a foot injury that kept her sidelined for nearly nine months.

When she finally did return, Montano suffered through a brutal weight cut and ultimately had to be pulled out of her own title fight, which led to her being stripped of the flyweight champion.

Meanwhile, top contenders like Sijara Eubanks have also struggled to make weight while working towards a potential title shot.

The good news is the flyweight division finally found some stability this past December when Valentina Shevchenko defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk to become the new champion in the division. Shevchenko has already said she wants to defend her title multiple times in 2019 and she’s regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound women’s fighters on the planet.

“I really think it’s a mess right now,” Calderwood told MMAWeekly about the flyweight division. “There’s so many people missing weight. It’s kind of in the in between stage. People at strawweight are still trying to make strawweight instead of coming up and then we’ve got people at bantamweight that are coming down that can’t make the weight.

“I think in 2019, everything is going to flatten out and it’s going to be a great division and we already have a great champion. I’m happy with that. I think it’s kind of up and down right now with the weight issue.”

Calderwood was happy to see somebody like Shevchenko become champion because that’s exactly what the division has needed all along.

In fact, Calderwood hopes to get Shevchenko’s attention when she returns to action on Saturday night in a fight against UFC newcomer Ariane Lipski at UFC Fight Night from Brooklyn.

“When the title fight got announced between her and Joanna [Jedrzejczyk], I thought that was great and it was great for the division because this is the kind of division I want to be in with high level strikers,” Calderwood said. “If I look to the future, that’s the perfect fight for me. I’m glad she’s the champion in the division.

“Obviously I’m not seeing past January but I could see in the future that’s a fight I would want to happen, especially in 2019.”

If Calderwood is successful this weekend, she would move to 3-0 in the division and start knocking on the door to title contention.

The last thing she wants to do is call out Shevchenko in a disrespectful way but Calderwood would definitely love the opportunity to compete against her with the UFC flyweight title on the line.

“She’s worked so hard and you can tell she’s a grinder and dedicated to the sport,” Calderwood said about Shevchenko. “That’s someone I want to fight and beat because then you’ll really know you’ve done it. She’s humble and a lovely person so that’s a bonus.”