UFC: Joanne Calderwood Says Training with Roxanne Modafferi at Syndicate MMA Has Her “In the Best Part of My Career”

Joanne Calderwood UFC
Joanne Calderwood Credit: Karine LaRocque/Sherdog.com

Fan favorite Joanne Calderwood credits being at Syndicate MMA, with coach John Wood and training partner Roxanne Modafferi, for having her at her best, as she’s finally putting everything together.

Joanne Calderwood pulled off arguably the biggest win of her career just over a month ago at UFC 242. The PPV event in Abu Dhabi may have focused on the return of Khabib Nurmagomedov, but Calderwood’s scrap with Andrea ‘KGB’ Lee was a huge one for the women’s flyweight division.

The win puts her back in the title conversation, with a 3-1 record in her past four fights. The lone loss in that span was to Katlyn Chookagian, who many see as the next title challenger for champ Valentina Shevchenko.

Lee was another top contender in the weight class, and a win over her may help ‘JoJo’ cut the line. “That was the plan, just show up and put on a good performance and entertain the fans,” Calderwood told Cageside Press recently. “At the end of the day, if they’re entertained, that keeps the UFC happy and makes my job a little bit easier. So that was the plan, turn up and have fun in there, and I enjoyed every second of it.”

“I feel like my performance was very good,” she continued. “Obviously there’s still a lot of things I can take away from the fight that I need to improve on, but that’s every fight.”

Elaborating on what she could have done differently, Calderwood suggested that “there was a few moments where I could capitalize a little bit more. Especially when I dropped her in round one with that elbow. I should have maybe jumped on her,” she explained. Taken advantage of that opening. But, Calderwood pointed out, “I was shocked that she went down with it.”

“Every camp, just get better. There’s always something I could have done better,” she added.

Still, things seem to be clicking for Calderwood, no matter what metric you’re looking at. Which is great for the flyweight’s confidence, something she has admittedly struggled with over the years.

It’s a hard sport, Calderwood pointed out, with “a lot of highs and lows. I just feel like I do appreciate the lows, because I feel like I get stronger a little bit.”

There are reasons behind that. “It’s just the way I’ve been brought up, my personality, I’m very shy, and not very confident I would say,” she observed. “But as soon as I do what I do, like go in and train or fight, that’s when I feel most myself, and I feel happy and I feel confident, a strong woman. Outside of the octagon and outside of the gym is probably more of a struggle for me.”


Calderwood made the move to Las Vegas a while back, where she’s been able to take advantage of the UFC Performance Institute, and move to Syndicate MMA.

“It’s educated me,” she said of the PI. Admitting it has been a long journey, Calderwood added that “I feel like I’m just starting to see results in my performance, and my physical body itself. It’s just over a year now it’s been, it’s a long process but I’m grateful. I always had the dedication, but I wasn’t in the right mindframe.”

Calderwood added that she discussed her past struggles with over-training with staff at the Performance Institute, who she said were understanding. In turn, they showed her actual numbers, and the science behind proper training, “that made me understand it a little bit more.”

Training at Syndicate MMA has been a positive change as well. “I’ve never really had someone that could help me put everything together. TriStar was great, Firas [Zahabi] and the whole team was knowledgeable, but I just struggled.” A lot of the team already had everything put together, said Calderwood, while she did not. “I was struggling, I was good at jiu-jitsu, good at Mauy Thai, good at wrestling, but I couldn’t put it all together. That’s what coach [John] Wood helped me with. Every practice is MMA related.”

Female training partners are a big factor also. “Throughout my career I’ve never really had any female training partners. Now I understand why it’s so important.” With the men, in the past, Calderwood said “I loved getting my ass kicked, but to be honest, it’s not good for your confidence.” Worse, the guys would either go easy on her, or at the other end of the scale, she’d wind up concussed or otherwise hurt. “I just feel like now, I have a main training partner in Roxanne [Modafferi]. We train every day, she’s the same weight as me, she’s competitive, but also, she doesn’t have an ego.”

Mind you, there’s still bumps, bruises, and stitches in the gym. However, all of those factors put together, said Calderwood, mean “I’m at the best part of my career, and feel the best I can be.”

Check out our full interview with UFC flyweight contender Joanne Calderwood above!


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