The UFC’s return to the “Land Down Under” has another pair of fights headed for the card.
Joanne Calderwood (11-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) will take on Australia’s own Bec Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) in the newly created women’s flyweight division at UFC Fight Night 121. UFC officials announced the booking following an initial report from the Brisbane Times.
And according to a report from E. Spencer Kyte in The Province, Canadian featherweight Jeremy Kennedy (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will fight Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) on the card. UFC officials have not made a formal announcement of that booking.
UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Nov. 19 (but airs in the U.S. on Nov. 18 due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It’s expected to air on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
After talking about her struggles to make 115 pounds for years, and after missing the strawweight limit her most recent time out against Cynthia Valvillo, Calderwood finally gets to fight at 125 on a likely permanent basis. After starting her career a perfect 8-0, she came to the UFC by way of Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” On the show, she lost to eventual runner-up Rose Namajunas in the semifinals.
Still, she won three of her first four in the UFC, including a “Fight of the Night” decision over Cortney Casey, and a TKO of Valerie Letourneau in a special flyweight fight in June 2016, well before the UFC officially brought the division in. But at UFC 203 nearly a year ago, she was submitted by Jessica Andrade. And at UFC Fight Night 113 in July in front of her home fans, she missed weight and lost a decision to Calvillo.
Rawlings has back-to-back losses, as well. Like Calderwood, she got her UFC shot courtesy of “TUF 20.” On the show’s live finale, she dropped a decision to Heather Jo Clark. But she bounced back with consecutive wins in her home country of Australia – a submission of Lisa Ellis in 2015 and a decision over Seo Hee Hamm in 2016.
Those wins earned her a step up in competition. But against Paige VanZant in the UFC on FOX 21 co-main event a year ago, she was caught with a head kick early in the second round. And against Tecia Torres at UFC Fight Night 104 in February, she missed the strawweight limit at weigh-ins, then lost a decision on fight night.
Kennedy will put his unblemished record on the line in hostile territory. He started his UFC run at lightweight a year ago and took a unanimous decision from Alessandro Ricci. He then returned to featherweight, where he has decision wins over Rony Jason in Brazil and Kyle Bochniak in July in New York.
Strangely enough, it will be the third straight time Kennedy will go into his opponent’s home base to fight. His UFC debut came in front of his own home fans in British Columbia. But since then, he’s had to fight Jason in Brazil, Bochniak on Long Island, and now Volkanovski in Australia.
Australia’s Volkanovski ran his winning streak to 12 fights in June when he took a unanimous decision from Mizuto Hirota at UFC Fight Night 110 in New Zealand. His UFC debut came in November 2016 in his home country when he stopped Yusuke Kasuya with a second-round TKO in a lightweight fight. Of his 15 career wins, a dozen have come by stoppage.
With the additions, UFC Fight Night 121 now includes:
- Mark Hunt vs. Marcin Tybura
- Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa
- Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
- Belal Muhammad vs. Jesse Taylor
- Joanne Calderwood vs. Bec Rawlings
- Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alex Volkanovski
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