Scotland’s leading Ninja: Joanne Calderwood

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 “I’m very fortunate to be where I am right now and doing what I love for a job”. 

Joanne Calderwood is Scotland’s rising star and is making her way through the MMA world, like a knife through butter. She has a killer instinct and deadly in every sense of the word..well, in the cage that is! I last spoke to Joanne before her Cage Warriors 53 fight and since then she has gone from strength to strength and is showing the whole world just how Dinky of a Ninja she is. 

Back at Cage Warriors 53, Joanne was involved in her last fight in Scotland for a while before heading to focus on Invicta. On the night she took on American Sally Krumdiack in the co-main event of the evening. She walked out with everyone in the arena behind her and the song It’s Amazing blasting out. Whether you already knew of Joanne or didn’t know anything about her, by the end of her fight you all knew this girl was amazing inside the cage as it took her just 3:08 to finish the fight via TKO (Strikes). She connected with a front kick and then dropped Miss Krumdiack with a powerful uppercut, that shook the arena. In true Joanne style she pounced and unleashed a barrage of ground and pound. It was the perfect way for Joanne to warm up for Invicta and also avenge one loss on the card, as her partner and coach James Doolan lost on the night. 

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“Man it feels so long ago now! (laughs). I had mixed feelings on the night as my partner James was on the card and although we had an awesome camp together leading up to fights on the same show things didn’t go his way on the night, so you could say emotions made me a little angry and when i went out but James kept me calm and focused. But if I get my opponent hurt in any of my fights you will always see me pouncing on them like a lion going to town after meeting its dinner. I always like to finish fights”.

Finishing fights is what Joanne loves to do and she has finished four out of her seven professional fights. Her style and winning ways didn’t go unnoticed and she was approached by MAL (Martial Arts Life) and offered Joanne the opportunity to have a walk out shirt made for her upcoming Invicta fight. A lot of MMA fans buy and wear walkout shirts, including myself, and you always think how cool it would be to have your own, (but who would buy it?). Well Joanne is a popular figure and her shirt looks quality. It’s a good deal for her and as soon as they offered the deal, Jo Jo knew what would look good. 

“Well the company MAL, martial arts life, approached James after my fight on cage warriors and offered me a great deal. They asked me if I had anything in mind and what I would like on it and I had recently had the little pixel Jo Jo sent to me which I thought was pretty cool, so sent them that and they came back with a few designs and that was that. They are available here by the way :) (cheeky sales pitch) http://www.malapparel.com//ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=M011“. 

944167_333848843407693_1919646109_nI doubt Joanne’s fans need a sales pitch to own the shirt and show their support for Scotland’s number one and she proved this in her next fight at Invicta. In the lead up to the fight her opponent changed a couple of times, which could be unsettling and frustrating for some people, but not Joanne. She focused herself on the work in her training camp and turned up on the night to face Norma Rueda Center, a college wrestling stand out, based out of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Joanne went on to win the fight via unanimous decision and showed different skills to what fans are used to seeing as she had to defend many takedown attempts,  showed a solid ground game and kept her record perfect at seven wins and no loses.

“It was great to be back at Invicta, even though my opponents changed a few times it didn’t have any impact on my preparations. I’m always preparing to go into a fight for the finish and the win, and for that all I need to do is work extra hard in my fight camp. I concentrate on me and let my coaches deal with my opponent. 

I felt good on the night, even If I didn’t I’m not one for excuses. I felt it was a good fight and I just couldn’t pin her down as she was on the back foot. It was kinda like what happened with Livia at Invicta 4.

I got 15 mins of fighting and showed some new moves which l look to do in each fight, so I can’t complain :) Norma was highly touted based on her college wrestling career and being from Jackson’s MMA, so it was a good win for me”.

Ever present by Joanne’s side is Mr.James Doolan, who is not only her partner but her coach and a top fighter himself. He has a lot of experience in MMA and does a world class job with at the Griphouse gym. If you ever see a Joanne fight, he is ever present in her corner and can be heard giving advice and giving her the support to push through any challenge. This was ever present at Invicta 6, when his voice could be heard over everyone else’s for 15 minutes. He is someone who Joanne trusts, knows how well they work together and he could even talk her through the toughest of situations. 

“He is very talented as a coach and experienced in the MMA game but not only that he is by my side in camp and outside of it,  so he knows how I think and how I react. We work well together and a lot of people pick up on it and comment on it and I think it’s pretty cool we work really well together. If l can hear him  I get confidence, even if l was in any trouble and he could probably talk me through robbing a bank,  if that was his field (laughs)”. 

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The Griphouse is were Joanne spends most of her time and is one place she loves to be. Most people would take time off after a fighter, but she was right back in the gym after her fight at Invicta 6. The gym has top quality fighters like Paul McVeigh, Graham Turner and many more who help challenge each other and take the team to a new level. They are one big, Dinky Ninja family and is a place were you can develop your skills to become a better fighter and also have a laugh with good friends. At the gym, Joanne is more focused on fighting but finds time to dabble a little in coaching and is something she is looking forward to doing in the future. 

“The Griphouse is great, and as always we are busy with fights that have just been and lots coming up. I coach one girl every Wednesday but apart from that I’m just concentrating on my training and making the most of my fight career. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where all I need to focus on is training and fighting. l have coached a little in the past and I believe there will be time for coaching when I’m done fighting (which is never …I hope)

I was back in gym as always in the Monday. I always miss the gym when I go away and can’t wait to get back. I’ve been on an off season program, waiting on a date for my next fight and then it will be a case of going into a fight camp. I’m enjoying training and learning new things and getting to train in the classes with the rest of the crew”. 

One of the best part’s you see from the Dinky Ninja fight team is just how much they get along and know how to have a joke. An emerging a while ago was that Paul McVeigh got himself a skateboard and was hoping to showcase some skills on the board. Maybe Tony Hawk has a little bit of competition from the Scot’s? Only time will tell. However looking into it more Paul could have more worries than Tony Hawk as Team Doolan are on the case, but it seems he has gone for a more expensive mode of transport. 

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“He has just bought a new one actually for going away to brazil, he wanted to get a purple one to go with his sungus. I think it’s just an expensive accessory to be honest as no one has ever seen him on the board. I’m hoping its a fetish he has picked up and he only goes on it, at night naked. James has a car and he doesn’t need a skateboard but now that he’s moved to Glasgow might be different story”.

With a good team behind her, Jo Jo is aiming for a bright future and it couldn’t be a better time for her in Invicta. Recently they signed Felice Herrig, who is one of the most popular strawweight’s and fighters in MMA today. Felice recently said in an interview that she respects Joanne as a fighter and would love to fight her in a debut, as it’s a fight fans really want to see. There is also Bec Hyatt who fans want to see her fight and then there is the other top contenders in the division. Basically Joanne is a wanted lady but we all know she has the skills to beat them all. 

“The future holds exciting times for me being in a stacked SW Invicta division: which means more fights for me, which is all I ask for. I think it’s cool to have her, (Herrig), at Invicta, as all the best girls are there outside of the 135ers in the UFC. She will bring a lot of her hype too which is good for Invicta. As for fighting her I’ll fight who ever Invicta tell me too. I want to fight every girl in my division”. 

Invicta is definitely the place for the majority of women’s MMA fighters and the martial artists on each show are the best in the world. As Joanne said the UFC is leading the way for the 135 pound women to make their mark and one who is doing well at the moment is Rosi Sexton. Rosi was the first female fighter from the UK to fight in the UFC and she will be the first UK female to fight on a UFC card in England. Joanne has so much praise for Rosi getting into the UFC and also believes that one of her team-mates should get the shout into the company soon. 

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“I’m a bit biased as i’m friends with Rosi. We talk often and I’ve trained with her a fair bit and I think Rosi definitely deserved it as she is a pioneer of the sport for females in Europe. She has been around when her division was limited and had to fight above her weight and not fight regular, which must of been hard. I’m glad she’s getting on the Manchester card it will be a dream come true for her.

I still believe my bro Graham Turner, who has had 30 pro fights and is only 24, stands out in a big way and I hope he gets his chance”. 

With everything that is happening with Joanne she has one more possible opponent to contend with. Recently she was voted in the top 10, most popular sports stars in Scotland. Topping the list was tennis star Andy Murray and Joanne is definitely catching him. Even though he might not have martial arts skills, he has his tennis racket and most probably the conditioning to last a few rounds in the cage.  Aside from that Joanne represents Scotland in the best way possible and getting to represent your country on the world stage is a proud and awesome moment for everybody. 

“Me vs Andy Murray, with his tennis racket? Hmm, should put that on the next cage warriors show when they come back to Glasgow, I love a challenge! 

It’s great representing Scotland when I’m fighting Especially over the pond. I’m very fortunate to be where I am right now and doing what I love for a job”.

Jo Jo not only represents Scotland and makes them proud, she makes the whole UK proud. She is never one to back down and when she steps in the cage you know she will give 110 percent to the cause. The more we read about her and the more we see from her, we all know she is definitely Scotland’s rising star. To MMA fans she is already Scotland’s number one and I’m sure she will Invicta gold around her waist in no time.

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If you want to keep up to date with Joanne you can, by visiting:

Official Website: jojocalderwood.com

Twitter: @badmofo_jojo

Facebook: jojo Calderwood

I would like to also take this opportunity to thank Joanne for taking the time out to answer my questions, some of which might seem random to other people! It means a great deal to me and I thank her for giving me the opportunity to put together this piece on her. 

Photo Credits: Dolly Clew (Cage Warriors), Esther Lin (Invicta FC) and Joanne Calderwood.

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