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Dana White lauds Joanne Calderwood risking title fight at UFC Vegas 5: ‘I love it’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC flyweight Joanne Calderwood may miss out on a title shot against champ Valentina Shevchenko if she can’t beat Jennifer Maia at UFC Vegas 5.

Fans might question the wisdom of Calderwood’s decision, but UFC President Dana White couldn’t be more supportive.

“When you’re real, that’s what you do,” he told reporters after weigh-ins for the Saturday event at UFC APEX in Las Vegs. “I love it.”

Calderwood downplayed the stakes of the fight, saying she was in shape and ready to compete when the chance to face Maia arrived. When Shevchenko was ruled out for an August or September return, she told her management to find her another opponent.

For the 33-year-old Scot, it came down to a very practical consideration.

“This sport, people only remember who just fought on the weekend, and I feel like that was also part of me wanting to get back in there,” Calderwood said during a virtual media day. “Cause there’s flyweights out there that are onto their second and third fight now, and I’ve been out for a year.

“I get it, I’m in a great position and a great opportunity ahead of me, but at the same time, I’m not getting paid, and people aren’t thinking I’m relevant to this spot. I want to go out there and prove to myself and to the fans as well and I want to stay active. For me, I know that’s the best thing for me.”

White didn’t say whether a win for Calderwood will guarantee a rebooking against Shevchenko, who’s torn through the competition since dropping to 125 pounds. The champ is recovering from a leg injury suffered in her most recent title defense, a dominant win over Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 247.

Calderwood most recently fought in the octagon at UFC 242, where she earned a split decision over Andrea Lee. The win put her back on the right foot after a unanimous decision loss to Chookagian at UFC 238. The Ultimate Fighter 20 veteran is 6-4 overall in the UFC.

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