Competing for the second time in a five-week span, strawweight rising star Cynthia Calvillo earned another big victory tonight at UFC 210: “Cormier vs Johnson 2” in Brooklyn, New York. Calvillo submitted Pearl Gonzalez in the third round of a featured matchup on tonight’s pay-per-view main card.
Calvillo, who won her Octagon debut at UFC 209 this past month, impressed onlookers with her slick ground game en route to victory tonight. Earlier on the card, Katlyn “Blonde Fighter” Chookagian narrowly edged out Mexican standout Irene Aldana in a closely-contested bantamweight showdown.
Calvillo (5-0-0) got the better of the striking exchanges in round one by scoring with quick combinations and leg kicks. Gonzalez (6-2-0) walked her opponent down and landed single strikes that led to a clinch against the cage, but Calvillo countered with knees to the body and she trapped Gonzalez in a tight triangle choke on the ground just before time expired.
The second round began with a much more aggressive Gonzalez pressing forward with power punches. Calvillo kept her at bay with leg kicks and continued to score with quick flurries of punches. Gonzalez eventually secured a takedown into mount that allowed her to transition to an armbar, but Calvillo escaped and she spent the remainder of the round threatening with submissions from Gonzalez’s back.
Round three was more of the same, and Calvillo took Gonzalez down after catching a kick. She first worked for an arm-triangle choke from half-guard before passing to mount and then taking Gonzalez’s back again. Gonzalez initially defended well, but Calvillo was able to sink in a tight rear-naked choke and Gonzalez reluctantly tapped out.
With tonight’s victory, Calvillo became the first UFC fighter to win two fights in 2017; a feat made more impressive by the fact that she accomplished it in just five weeks. Drawing comparisons to the Diaz brothers, the outspoken Calvillo has quickly become one of the strawweight division’s most talked-about female prospects.
Winner: Cynthia Calvillo by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 3:45 of round three. She improves to 5-0-0.
On tonight’s preliminary card, Chookagian (9-1-0) did just enough to eke out a razor-thin Split Decision win over Aldana (7-4-0) in a bout that was contested almost entirely on the feet.
Chookagian countered Aldana’s kicks in round one with stiff jabs and lead left hooks. She mixed in kicks of her own and took Aldana down late in the opening stanza after catching a leg kick. In round two, Aldana pressed the action early on with a knee and a spinning backfist. She fought off a takedown attempt, but Chookagian cracked her with a combination and knocked her off-balance with a counter right hook as time ticked down.
With the close fight still very much up for grabs heading into round three, Chookagian started strong by backing Aldana up with jabs and two head kicks. She snapped Aldana’s head back with a hard right cross and remained in control of the striking battles until the final two minutes when Aldana took over with knees and a series of chopping leg kicks. She landed right hands and one-twos late in the round that appeared to have stolen the round and the fight.
One judge agreed and returned a 29-28 scorecard for Aldana, but he was overruled by a pair of 29-28 cards for Chookagian that awarded the American with a hard-fought Split Decision victory. The close win got Chookagian back on track following her first professional setback at UFC 205 in November.
Winner: Katlyn Chookagian by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) after three rounds. She improves to 9-1-0.
(Photo Credit: UFC)