Cynthia Calvillo came into the UFC with almost no hype, no massive following, and a very tough opponent.
The Team Alpha Male fighter came up against Amanda Cooper at UFC 209, and almost nobody could split the pair. Cooper was a seasoned vet and Calvillo was inexperienced at this level but was fighting out of a high level team.
Days before the fight, a change to the fight card meant the bout would now move from the UFC Fight Pass Preliminary Card to the Main Card; completely skipping the televised preliminary card. Extra pressure, more eyes, a bigger responsibility – They’re often the things that come to mind when you’re moved to the main card, but it didn’t show at all in Calvillo’s performance.
The Sacramento native allowed her opponent to take the centre, but burst in early with a three punch combination, landing a few shots on Cooper. It became clear early on that Calvillo, the more well known grappler out of the two, was not afraid to exchange. The 29-year-old attacked Cooper’s lead leg early and often, attempting to take away the boxer’s power.
“ACB” threw a lead leg kick, Calvillo capitalised, caught it, and scored the first take down. This was the point where she really took over the fight. After moving straight to side control from the takedown, the UFC debutant switched sides and almost ended up in north south. Cooper continued to throw her legs up. Calvillo then baited Cooper into almost standing up, meaning her only choice was to go for a takedown, which the TAM product reversed, and used to get on top.
In the sprawl position, Cynthia looked for an anaconda choke, and it was tight; she rolled, and although Cooper managed to release the pressure, Calvillo took the back, and had both hooks in. She switched from the body triangle to the hooks, and then finally she locked the choke up. Desperate not to lose, Cooper hung in, attempted to pull the hand off, and then rolled, trying everything to ease the pressure.
It was already sunk in, though, and face down, Cooper was forced to tap. In her debut bout, with an immense amount of pressure on her, Calvillo passed the test with flying colours. I’d definitely suggest looking out for her on the upcoming UFC 210 card, where she faces Pearl Gonzalez. This bout is also on the main card.