A quick glance at Cynthia Calvillo’s resume and her place in the UFC strawweight rankings could leave you puzzled. Granted, the strawweight division is one of the UFC’s strongest and deepest, but Calvillo has knocked off many capable fighters and has just one blemish amid her 5-1 start in the UFC.
Calvillo has finished three of her wins. She’s fought on pay-per-view main cards and in co-main slots. But as she reasoned behind her No. 10 ranking, Calvillo hasn’t been as active as she’d like. She’s fought just twice since 2018 after losing to Carla Esparza in late 2017.
On Saturday, Calvillo returns to the Octagon for the second time this year, drawing another co-main event spot, this time against No. 9–ranked Marina Rodriguez.
“Her base is Muay Thai and luckily for me I’ve been in Thailand training Muay Thai, so even though I got the switch up (of opponents), I was okay with it because I got another Top 10 fighter.”
The UFC must see something in Calvillo as well. Before being pitted against Rodriguez, Calvillo was scheduled to fight one of the division’s biggest draws: Claudia Gadelha. A win against Gadelha would’ve likely vaulted Calvillo into or near the Top 5. And from there, a title shot is can be next or one fight away.
UFC.com sat down with Calvillo and discussed her future in the division and the matchup with Rodriguez.
UFC: What was your reaction when you found out Claudia Gadelha withdrew from the fight?
CC: When Claudia pulled out I wasn’t too happy when I first woke up and got the message. I’m thankful for Marina for taking a fight six weeks out. To me, six weeks is more than enough time to prepare for an opponent; I have a lot of experience so I’m able to make those adaptations.
UFC: You’ve fought on pay-per-view main cards and now get another co-main event fight. What else do you want to accomplish?
CC: I’m grateful the UFC has trusted me and put me in the co-main event slot. I’m excited to perform and keep doing that. I’ve been blessed to be on a lot of main cards. This is my second co-main slot, so hopefully in the near future we’ll have a main event slot.
UFC: Your entire MMA resume is very impressive. Are your surprised you’re only ranked No. 10 in the UFC strawweight division?
CC: The reason behind me being No. 10 is just because of my inactivity. I haven’t been able to fight as much as I wanted to. The rankings don’t mean much to me; what means a lot is fighting as much as I can, win, and keep winning these fights in impressive ways to let people know that I deserve a title shot.
UFC: How important is it for you to continue your winning streak, considering how stacked the division is?
CC: The strawweight division is the most impressive and deep weight class. I believe it’s the best division in the UFC. There are a lot of women in there that are dangerous. I just want to fight the best. There are dangerous up-and-comers but there are a lot of fighters that have been here for a while. I’m looking forward to see who ends up with the belt once it’s my turn.
UFC: How far away do you think you are from earning a title shot?
CC: I think you can always be one fight away if you’re ready. Zhang Weili was No. 6 when she got her shot and I feel like right now, at this moment, it leaves the division wide open for me. As long as I come out of this fight healthy and win in an impressive way, I can definitely get the title shot with one or two more.