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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - SEPTEMBER 04: Joanne Calderwood of Scotland holds an open training session for fans and media at Yas Mall on September 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Joanne “Never Give Up” Calderwood

“I chose to take this as a positive and just get back on the journey. If my hashtag for the rest of my life is going to be #NeverGiveUp then I’m happy with that,”

After fighting three rounds with Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 238, it was clear to Joanne Calderwood that she had done enough to earn a decision victory.

But when Bruce Buffer announced the scores, the result wouldn’t be one that Calderwood could initially believe.

Watch Poirier and Khabib Unify The Lightweight Belt at UFC 242

“I can remember standing in the Octagon and them giving the decision to her and just hearing everyone in the crowd, apart from her team, booing her and I was just like, ‘What?’” Calderwood said. “That’s why Dana White always says never take it to the judges, right? That’s a statement and a half and I’ve learned a lot from that.”

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The loss could have sent Calderwood down a “dark path” for multiple reasons. She was on a two-fight win streak heading into the June bout, and a win over Chookagian could have put her into the flyweight title shot conversation.

But Calderwood’s mental fortitude is far too strong to let what happened that night in Chicago set her back.

“I chose to take this as a positive and just get back on the journey. If my hashtag for the rest of my life is going to be #NeverGiveUp then I’m happy with that,” Calderwood said. “I’m just going to keep following that and hopefully I inspire other people and just keep focused on going forward and seeing what’s next.”

What’s next for Scotland’s Calderwood is a tough fight with the surging Andrea Lee at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. It’s a matchup that Calderwood described as a “beauty,” and she’s excited to get back into the Octagon and back into the win column.

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“I feel like Andrea Lee is going to bring it and we both have great styles that match really well together,” Calderwood said. “For me, and I’m sure for her and for the fans as well, it’s just going to be a great fight.”

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Lee is fresh off an impressive performance against Montana De La Rosa at UFC Greenville in late June. “KGB” displayed her endurance, aggression and ability to grapple in her unanimous decision win. Lee’s rise caught the eye of Calderwood and she’s ready for the challenge.

“I feel like me and Andrea are very similar. We both like to stand, we both like to stalk and we both like to hit hard,” Calderwood said. “Obviously we can go to the ground but we both kind of want to keep it standing. She’s a really exciting fighter and one that I really look forward to fighting.”

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Calderwood and Lee will be headlining the UFC 242 prelims on FX and she is confident that they will put on a thrilling show for fight fans in Abu Dhabi.

“I can just see me going in there with the determination of I really want to get back into the win column,” Calderwood said. “I feel like I found that fighter in me again. I just want to go in there and be exciting and then get another fight. That’s how you stay active and go in there and put on a good performance and be ready to fight anyone.”

Don’t miss a second of one of UFC’s biggest events of the year. UFC 242: Khabib vs Poirier early prelims start at 10am ET on UFC FIGHT PASS. Prelims, headlined by flyweights Joanne Calderwood and Andrea Lee start at 12pm ET on FX.

At 2pm ET, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defends his belt against interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier.

Order UFC 242: champ vs champ on ESPN+