Valentina Shevchenko: Joanne Calderwood was ‘not there mentally’ in loss to Jennifer Maia

Valentina Shevchenko believes there was something missing within Joanne Calderwood in a recent loss to Jennifer Maia that cost her a UFC title shot.

Calderwood (14-5 MMA, 5-5 UFC) was supposed to be next in line to challenge Shevchenko (19-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) for the women’s flyweight title, but the bout was postponed from June and then August due to an injury to the champion.

Tired of waiting, Calderwood rolled the dice by accepting a short-notice matchup with Maia (18-6-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) at UFC on ESPN+ 31 on Aug. 1. She’d been off for 11 months and said she wanted to be active to avoid rust heading into her title shot, but then everything went awry when Maia pulled off the first-round submission win.

Shevchenko was watching the bout closely, and although she gives Maia credit, she said it was hard to ignore Calderwood looking flat inside the octagon, which “The Bullet” said contributed to the result.

“What I could see in this fight I cannot tell about ‘JoJo’ – I felt she was not there mentally,” Shevchenko told MMA Junkie Radio. “Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it’s something that you cannot prevent. You do your training camp good, you’re preparing good but the time of the fight, you’re just not there and you don’t understand what happened. But you can tell in her eyes, you can tell in the speed of her reaction and probably this is what the major factor why she lost her fight.”

Shevchenko did not want to pinpoint the entire outcome on her belief Calderwood did not show up. She made sure to give Maia her credit, because now the Brazilian is set to challenge for the 125-pound belt at UFC 255, which takes place Nov. 21 and airs on pay-per-view from an unannounced location.

“From other side we could see Jennifer Maia,” Shevchenko said. “She focused with her eye, focused on the victory. She wanted it and she was training so bad for this fight.”

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