Until you’ve fought three rounds, turned around and grappled one of the biggest names in the sport five days later on three days’ notice, don’t talk to Cynthia Calvillo about being a competitor.
But first, a little background.
On November 23, Pearl Gonzalez grabbed the grappling world’s attention when she broke Lilian Borja’s arm at CJJ Worlds. The video went viral and earned the Tenth Planet star even more notoriety.
It was surely picked up by her QUINTET Ultra opponent, Danielle Kelly, as they planned for their December 12 superfight. Yet fast forward a few weeks and Gonzalez broke her collarbone in training, leaving Kelly without an opponent.
The vacancy was only open about a half hour.
“I just got home to Sacramento on Sunday night, I woke up and they asked me if I wanted to step into a grappling match at QUINTET and I said yes,” said Calvillo, who was coming off a draw with Marina Rodriguez last Saturday in Washington, D.C. yet was willing to push back her R&R period to fill in for Gonzalez with nothing but disregard for the minimal recovery time from her 15 minutes in the Octagon.
“At least now I get a little bit of redemption by being able to go out there and compete again and have a good performance this Thursday,” Calvillo said.
Despite being Gonzalez’s replacement, Calvillo is hardly a lesser competitor. In fact, two years ago, Calvillo spoiled Gonzalez’s UFC debut with none other than a submission victory.
While the UFC isn’t getting Gonzalez, they’re getting somebody who bested her in this very field at UFC 210.
“I may not be a straight jiu-jitsu fighter but I’m a natural grappler,” Calvillo said. “I love no gi, I love submission wrestling; I just think I’m special when it comes to competing on the ground, so I definitely think I’m going to be a tougher fight for her.”
Another advantage for the fans is the very fact that she comes from a mixed martial arts background instead of grappling. She’s not going out to “stay alive” or score points. Calvillo is going for broke.
“I’m going to go out there and finish it,” Calvillo said. “I love jiu-jitsu, it’s so much fun, and I’m going to go out there and get the finish as fast as I can.”
Tune into QUINTET Ultra Thursday, December 12 at 7 p.m. PT ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!