The most surprising of grudge matches, Jessica Eye vs. Joanne Calderwood at Saturday’s UFC 257 was just a little bit personal.
If a little one-sided. Heading into the affair, Calderwood, the Scottish TUF alum whose voice often registers just a hair above audible, had criticized Eye for missing weight, and allegedly using the “towel trick” made famous by Daniel Cormier while weighing in for a previous fight.
Eye, for her part, told Cageside Press this week that she wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about, and that apart from a few cross words on social media, there wasn’t much of a beef at all.
What happened in the fight itself might have belied that. The pair went right at it, fighting in close quarters. Calderwood fired an elbow, while Eye drove her into the fence in a clinch. Moving back to center, JoJo fired off a jab/cross combination, but once again, Eye drove her into the fence. The problem was, Eye couldn’t make anything happen with those clinches. Not a takedown to be found. However, she managed to hold her own in the exchanges, and Calderwood was showing some redness in the face. Her knees and elbows were on point early, but every time Calderwood got going, Eye slowed things to the halt along the fence.
Later in the round, Calderwood landed a knee in the clinch, and a kick to the body; Eye began working the body with a trio of punches. An aggressive start to the fight, at a solid pace.
Round two picked up where the first left off. Calderwood worked kicks. Eye wound up eating a couple of right hands, and soon had some swelling to the side of her face. Eye was still walking her opponent down, but was eating a lot of blows on the way in. Calderwood actually landed a takedown, more or less pushing Eye over. But far ahead on the feet by that point, Calderwood let her opponent back up. The knees continued to be there for JoJo. While Eye was getting some offense off, in particular her body shot, her volume wasn’t there. However, Calderwood walked into a takedown after a poorly timed spinning attack — but coming at the end of the round, Eye was unable to take advantage of the position.
As the third opened up, it was clear Eye was going to need to pull off the comeback, be it knockout or submission, if she had any hope of winning the fight. Early on in the round she tied things up by the fence, looking for an opening to get Calderwood down. With a whizzer, and the fence for leverage, Calderwood proved up to the task, fighting off the takedown attempts. With half the round having been eaten up in this fashion, however, time had become a concern. When they moved back to center, Eye tried to shoot in for another takedown attempt. It was nowhere to be found. Calderwood’s own best weapon, her Muay Thai, continued to serve her well however. Knees in the Thai clinch, elbows off the break — in a dirty, scrappy fight, those gave her the edge. One last big knee landed for Calderwood, opening up a gash by the eye of Jessica Eye.
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2021
The question now becomes: did Calderwood do enough to earn back the title shot she lost in her defeat to Jennifer Maia last year? Asked just that by Jon Anik post-fight, Calderwood left it up to Dana White. But really, the UFC could do worse, and against Eye, JoJo had one of her best performances in recent memory.
Official Result: Joanne Calderwood def. Jessica Eye by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)