UFC 209 Newcomer Breakdown: Cynthia Calvillo

Prior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at American Cynthia Calvillo as she makes her UFC debut against TUF 23 Finalist Amanda Cooper at UFC 209 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cynthia Calvillo Hometown: San Jose, California Age: 29 Height: 5-foot-4 Reach: NA Weight Class: Strawweight Camp: Team Alpha Male Career Record: 3-0 Key Wins: Aspen Ladd Key Losses: None Background The Team Alpha Male fighter and main training partner of Paige VanZant is undefeated to start her career at 3-0. Two of her three professional wins have come by knockout. Strengths

  • Good trip takedowns
  • Strong ground game
  • Transitions well on mat to dominant positions
  • Fights at a high pace


  • Stand up striking needs to improve
  • Striking rather static in a prolonged standing exchange
  • Defensive wrestling nowhere near as good as her offensive setups

Fighter Grade Offensive Striking: D Striking Defense: D+ Knockout Power: D Athleticism / Speed: C Footwork: D+ Chin: C- Offensive Wrestling: C+ Takedown Defense: D Submissions: D Conditioning: C+ Intangibles: D+ Overall Grade: D+ Matchup with Amanda Cooper Two intriguing prospects in the strawweight division collide as Cooper takes on Calvillo. On the feet, Cooper certainly has an advantage. Her hands are underrated, and she does well to combine strikes together. Calvillo offers minimal striking skills, so if this fight ends up in a striking exchange, look for Cooper to control it from start to finish. On the flip side, Calvillo will certainly look to secure takedowns in this bout. That is her bread-and-butter and, she does a good job at maintaining positions on the mat. Cooper can wrestle a bit herself, but I’d give Calvillo the edge, especially considering she trains at Team Alpha Male, where she is consistently drilling and training to grapple. This fight comes down to how much success Calvillo will have with her offensive wrestling. Can she secure takedowns against a good athlete? Given the limited tape and experience, I lean towards no. Look for Cooper to win the striking exchanges and defend enough takedowns to win a decision. It’s not a slam dunk given the limited experience of both fighters, but at this stage of both fighters careers, Cooper is the more well-rounded UFC-ready fighter. UFC Ceiling There’s no surprise that Calvillo trains with VanZant. At this point in her experience and skill set, her fighting style is reminiscent of her main training partner. She’s a decent athlete with good conditioning that has helped her success on the ground. Calvillo has a style that is capable of winning a few fights in the UFC against fighters that struggle in striking exchanges and with a limited wrestling background. In this weight class, you need to be able to do both to be a potential Top 5 fighter. It’s similar to the growing pains Carla Esparza is currently experiencing in the UFC. Grappling and controlling fighters is a good game plan, but a fighter needs to do more to be successful. No one in this weight class has shown an ability to control a fight like Khabib Nurmagomedov has done at lightweight from start to finish. Without an ability to do that, fighters like Calvillo need to develop a striking skill set to keep opponents honest. Fight Film Check out Calvillo in some of her most recent fights… Calvillo vs. Gillian Robertson Calvillo vs. Jessica Sanchez

Written by Jay Primetown

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