Joanne Calderwood is one of the fastest rising prospects in Mixed Martial Arts today. Hailing from Scotland, where she trains at the infamous Griphouse gym as part of the Dinky Ninjas team, she is slowly taking the MMA world by storm and is definitely a star to watch out for in 2013. Signed with Invicta fighting championships in the USA she is setting her sights on rising higher and higher. At just 26 years old she has a big future ahead of her but also has a lot of experience to back it up.
Her martial arts journey began in Muay Thai where she put together a great record of 19 victories and only two defeats. Not just that she became the WBC National Champion and IKF and ISKA World Champion. This grounding set her on the path to MMA and was something which she was ready for.
“Well I had a decade in one of the disciplines of Mma and achieved everything I set out too so it did help but I was in some people’s words “going over to the dark side” and I was ready for the challenges and the slaggings. I just wanted to keep learning and competing. I’ve been lucky to have access to the dinky ninja team and moving to Mma just made sense.”
She was more than set on the path and began her MMA career in great fashion in 2012. Firstly she defeated Noellie Molina at OnTop 4 via first round TKO, followed this up with an unanimous decision victory over Lena Ovchynnikova at SFL 3 (Super Fight League) in India and returned to OnTop to defeat Ainara Mota by second round TKO at OnTop 5. Not a bad start to your MMA career in just under four months.
This success didn’t go unnoticed over the pond in America. Invicta Fighting Championships snapped Joanne up and they threw her in against Ashley Cummins. Most people would find it hard making the transition to a big show but Joanne passed with flying colors and knocked her opponent out in the first round via a knee to the body. This made people stand up and take even more notice of her.
“Before Invicta I had a lot of support but I have noticed that people outside the Mma circle have picked up on me going over to America and hearing about me doing well and they have started following my career and giving me support which is making all the hours in the gym worth while. The national press and TV channels have done some features on me too. It’s nice to get treated like a professional athlete”.
Invicta were more than impressed and gave her an opportunity in January of this year. She took on tough prospect Livia von Plettenberg and totally dominated her opponent on way to a unanimous decision victory. She showcased her full array of skills and put on a great show. Something she always aims to do.
“I got the W and got to show off my ninja tools that’s always my main thing to make sure l mix my stuff up and always show something different. If you watch my fights there isnt really a pattern where as some of the fighters out there you know what they are going to do and I want to keep this going so i cant be stereotyped and keep entertaining so people want to watch me”.
This fight meant that Joanne had fought five times in under a year. A great feat for someone new in the world of MMA. Not many fighters get the opportunity to fight lots but Joanne is taking her chances with both hands and fights for the sixth time in just over a year at Cage Warriors 53 in Glasgow on 13th April. It’s been a whirlwind year and she has grown quite a bit, or has she?
“Still the same height ;) (laughs). Would be great if I got a couple of inches. In all seriousness I’ve just been exposed to 5 different styles so far and dealt with them all, technically my games getting better with every fight and I’m gaining experience which is essential. Other than that I’m still the same old boring gym rat. Train eat sleep repeat”.
Her success at Invicta took her to 5-0 in her MMA career and this will be tested at Cage Warriors, when she takes on the more experienced Sally Krumdiack, (9-6 MMA). For alot of fighters an unbeaten record can add extra pressure so does this effect Joanne?
“Not at all, I’m not worried about my record. The only thing I want to do on fight day is go in there and do what I can do to get the W and if I lose doing that I know it will be down to the person being better than me and I can accept that and go work on the things I need to improve. I’m not one for making excuses, l don’t know how many times I’ve heard from my opponents ”I had an off night’ or ‘bad day at the office’ bla bla bla….you never go into a fight 100%”.
Women are becoming more and more popular in MMA, especially due to the success of the unbeaten UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey who seems to have pushed Women’s MMA to a whole new level. So does Joanne see her as the biggest influential figure?
“She is the first women’s UFC champion so that will be a massive impact in WMMA. To be honest I think anyone that steps in the cage and performs are influential figures”.
With the continuing success of women’s MMA it will mean that there will become more and more opportunities within the sport. At current the UFC just has a Bantamweight division but with Invicta become more popular it wont be long until the women are even more of a talking point and for Joanne the future is bright and how far does she think she will go?
“Wherever the best fighters are I will be there standing across from them. I love competing and testing myself”.
As the years go by she will definitely get the chance to test herself with the best in the sport. Inside the cage it’s all about yourself but outside the cage each fighter has a team behind them. Training as part of the Dinky Ninja’s puts Joanne around some of the UK’s best: James Doolan, Paul McVeigh and Graham Turner. Some great guys to look up to. And the biggest influence for Joanne’s career has been someone very special in her life.
“James Doolan my partner,coach and manager has pretty much been the voice behind my doing”.
She has got the team behind her, the management and the skills to have a great career in the cage. But how does one relax away from a hectic schedule like Joanne’s? It’s something we can all relate to:
“Sleep and lots of it :)”.
We have learnt a lot more about one of the UK’s and the world’s most promising talent’s in WMMA today. We all wish Joanne the best and i’d like to thank her for taking the time to do this interview and she would like to thank: