Most of the attention going into the UFC on ESPN+ 31 co-main event between Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia centered on the notion that this was Calderwood’s chance to finally break through as a title challenger.
Instead, it was Maia (18-6-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) who made her statement as a force to be reckoned with in the women’s flyweight division Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Maia submitted Calderwood (14-5 MMA, 5-5 UFC) with a textbook armbar at the 4:29 mark of the opening round as the Brazilian won for the third time in her past four fight.
“I’m very happy, and I’m getting better every time out,” Maia said through an interpreter. “I think that I’m getting ready for the title.”
Maia quite simply had her way with her boxing, flinging punches in bunches, which found the mark early and often. Calderwood, who took the fight on short notice she’d secured a title shot before, managed to slow down the attack with successful kicks.
That caused Maia to attempt a kick of her own, which Calderwood caught and then turned into a takedown. But while Calderwood had top control, Maia expertly turned the position into an armbar, isolated the arm, and left Calderwood no choice but to tap.
After the fight, Maia expressed interest in fighting champion Valentina Shevchenko, who seems ready to oblige.
Up-to-the-minute UFC on ESPN+ 31 results:
- Jennifer Maia def. Joanne Calderwood via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:29
- Vicente Luque def. Randy Brown via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:56
- Bobby Green def. Lando Vannata via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jonathan Martinez def. Frankie Saenz via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 0:57
- Nate Maness def. Johnny Munoz via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
- Jamall Emmers def. Vincent Cachero via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Chris Gutierrez vs. Cody Durden ends in a unanimous draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)