Date: Sunday 31st December, 3am (UK)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Venue: T-Mobile Arena
Cynthia Calvillo has emerged under the radar in the strawweight division but is a huge talent and an impressive win over the former champion Carla Esparza at UFC 219 will put everyone on notice.
Calvillo is a promising product from Team Alpha Male and you can tell she has reaped the rewards of training with such a high-level camp. She is very well-rounded with phenomenal grappling skills which will be tested to say the least by Esparza.
Esparza won the strawweight title after winning ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in 2014 which crowned the first champion of the new division. She was the favourite going into the tournament and rightly so as she eased her way to the finale and finished the current champion, Rose Namajunas, with a rear-naked choke. She has enjoyed success through leveraging her strong wrestling with power and technique to control her opponents. However, she was exposed on the feet against Joanna Jedrzejczyk which happens to most fighters but Esparza’a weakness has been highlighted.
So, although Calvillo is a strong grappler she will be wise to keep the fight standing, presuming Esparza will let her. Their grappling is the key stat here and the obvious route to victory for Esparza but the evolution and progression of Calvillo each time she steps inside the cage could surprise a lot of fans on the night.
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.