UFC on ESPN 10: Cynthia Calvillo Was Pleasantly Surprised by Main Event Booking

Las Vegas, NV — Cynthia Calvillo (8-1-1) is just about as surprised as anyone at being the main event of UFC on ESPN 10 this weekend.

In Calvillo’s case, it’s a welcome surprise that came with trying to land a fight with Jessica Eye. Sometimes, you just have to go after what you want.

Speaking to media outlets this week at the UFC on ESPN 10 media day, the now-former strawweight explained that “I was a bit surprised. It’s one of those things where, if you don’t ask, you’re not going to get it.”

Calvillo had actually been looking at July. “I was noticing that everybody was getting matched up, especially in the flyweight division.” The question soon became, who was available? “There was only like two people available, and one of them happened to be Jessica Eye. So I shot my manager a message, and I said ‘hey does Jessica have anything lined up? If she doesn’t, I would love to fight her in July.'”

Her manager said he’d look into it. “Then they came back with, ‘well how about main event in three weeks?’ I was like ‘holy crap! Okay, yes!'” If you can sense the enthusiasm in her response, it’s for good reason. “It was just one of those opportunities you do not say no to. So I’m really excited. I was surprised with the main event slot. And even so, I know that it’s a bit of a risk for Jessica Eye to take a fight with somebody who’s at a lower rank.”

Lower rank or not, Calvillo has the resume to do well at flyweight. Her early career record includes wins over Montana De La Rosa and Gillian Robertson, both current members of the UFC’s women’s flyweight division.

Calvillo has been training of late with American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), home to the likes of Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Cormier’s influence as a commentator, able to be heard in the empty venues hosting UFC fights during the coronavirus pandemic, has not gone unnoticed. A number of fighters have reported taking his advice.

“The extra corner in there,” Calvillo called him. Though she’ll be listening to more than just whoever works the broadcast booth this weekend. “I’m going to be listening to everybody. I’m going to listen to commentators, I’m going to listen to her team so I know what the heck is coming.”

“It’s funny, because that’s actually something that I’ve done in other previous fights,” she continued. “I’ve never fought when there was no crowd, but obviously in a smaller venue. And I can hear their corners. So I remember just almost, listening to their corner knowing what’s going to come before listening to my corner. I’m excited. I’m excited to see what that’s going to be like. I think it’s going to be a game-changer for sure.”

This fight, of course, could also be a game changer for the women’s flyweight division. Jessica Eye is ranked at the top of the weight class. Calvillo is the upstart, a 115lb’er moving up after struggling with her weight back at UFC DC. It’s a huge opportunity to make a statement right out of the gate, in a division where just a couple of wins could land a title shot. Champ Valentina Shevchenko awaits, assuming she gets past Joanne Calderwood next.

That might be putting the proverbial cart before the horse however. “I never look ahead of my opponent. For me, whoever I’m fighting, they’re going to be the toughest opponent that I have to date,” Calvillo told us. “I don’t look past that at all. I understand that [Eye]’s the number one fighter and where this could take me. But I’m a fighter and this is what I’m here for. I never look past my opponents, right now the only thing I’m worried about is Jessica Eye.”

UFC on ESPN 10 takes place this Saturday, June 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.  The card airs live on ESPN and ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).