After another strong show at the UFC APEX this past weekend – UFC 250 – the UFC returns this Saturday with another, far weaker card.
UFC Fight Night 172: Eye vs. Calvillo is perhaps the weakest UFC show of all time, on paper at least, but can you really blame the promotion? In all honesty, no. Right now they’re just trying to ensure their roster are offered the fights their contracts dictate, while also attempting to live up to their deal with ESPN. Essentially, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, any show will do.
Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night 172: Eye vs. Calvillo.
#1 Flyweight: Jessica Eye vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Okay, so let’s not beat around the bush. Both of these women are excellent fighters, but is this a highly anticipated UFC main event? Certainly not. Neither has captured the imagination of the casual fans, and neither has ever main evented a UFC show before. But as was mentioned during the introduction, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things.
Thankfully, there is an argument to be made that this fight could impact the UFC Flyweight title picture. Eye isn’t likely to gain another crack at Valentina Shevchenko with a win, but given she’s still ranked as the division’s top contender, if Calvillo were to defeat her, then she could well face the champion at some point in the future.
Interestingly enough, the fight also sees a former Bantamweight in Eye against a former Strawweight in Calvillo. Does that mean that ‘Evil’ will have a large size advantage come Saturday? Perhaps not; although Eye missed weight for her last outing, she only stands 2” taller than Calvillo and will only have a 2” reach advantage.
The truth is that Calvillo should’ve made this move years ago; she’s failed to make the 115lbs Strawweight limit twice in the past, including for her previous fight.
So how do the two match up in terms of style? In terms of striking, both women largely favour a boxing-based game, but while Calvillo’s combinations have helped her to defeat the likes of Pearl Gonzalez, Joanne Calderwood and Cortney Casey, you’d have to class her very much as a developing striker.
Casey, for instance, chewed up Calvillo’s legs with kicks, while her most recent opponent – Marina Rodriguez – dominated her from the clinch and the outside. So how has the Californian been able to go 5-1-1 in the UFC? Largely because her ground game is so venomous that she’s able to let her fists fly with no fear of what’ll happen if a fight hits the ground.
Calvillo’s grappling is fantastic. She’s picked up three submission wins in the UFC, but also used her ground game to really cement her wins over Calderwood and Casey, and took a draw from Rodriguez by dominating her in the third round on the ground. She even dominated Carla Esparza on the ground in her lone loss.
However, the rest of that fight should be considered concerning. Esparza – not the greatest striker in the division – dominated Calvillo on the feet largely by being more of a varied striker, and due to her powerful wrestling, Calvillo was unable to get her to the ground in the later rounds.
Essentially, Calvillo thrives in a fight in which she can either use her grappling to take out an opponent on the ground, or use the threat of her grappling to allow her to land strikes, even if she initially appears outgunned.
For me, that probably leaves her in a bit of trouble against Eye, who also favours a boxing-based striking attack, but likely has much quicker hands than Calvillo. Eye’s combinations are remarkably fast when she’s at her best, and while she doesn’t tend to offer knockout power – she’s gone to decision in all but one of her 6 UFC wins – she can overwhelm even excellent kickboxers with her volume.
Kalindra Faria, Jessica-Rose Clark and Katlyn Chookagian were all beaten in this manner en route to Eye’s title shot, and while ‘Evil’ was found badly wanting by Shevchenko, who KO’d her with a brutal head kick, the native of Cleveland, Ohio showed no real issues in bouncing back from that loss in her most recent fight, another decision over Viviane Araujo.
Would Eye find herself in trouble on the ground with Calvillo? Perhaps, but it’ll be very hard for the former Strawweight to put her there. Eye has a strong wrestling background, and she’s also been used to fighting much larger, powerful wrestlers such as Julianna Pena, Miesha Tate and former Olympian Sara McMann.
Add in the fact that Eye will possess a reach advantage and should be able to use it to keep Calvillo at a distance, and I find it hard to see the Californian being able to really threaten the former title challenger with either her takedowns or striking.
Eye will need to be careful, particularly if the fight goes to the ground, but assuming she doesn’t gas out in only her second ever five round fight, I don’t see any reason why she can’t comfortably use her size advantage and boxing skill to outpoint Calvillo for a decision.