UFC 251 will tell the tale of two kickboxing queens in MMA

UFC 251

Valentina Shevchenko was born in Frunze, Kirghizia, USSR in 1988. Shevchenko’s mother and sister both practiced taekwondo and at the age of five, the young girl began practicing other martial arts as well. In her pre-teen years, Shevchenko turned to kickboxing and by the age of twelve she was knocking out her 22-year-old opponent. Schevchenko’s quick speed in the ring, inspired her trainer, Pavel Fedotov, to award her the nickname “Bullet.”

During her kickboxing career, the 31-year-old won several titles and racked up a 56-2 professional record in the sport. Shevchenko transitioned to MMA and had her first match in Kyrgyzstan in 2003. After an impressive 11-1 professional record “Bullet” made her UFC debut in 2015 where she successfully beat Sarah Kaufman by split decision at UFC on FOX 17.

Shevchenko presently boasts a record of 19-3 and is set to defend her UFC flyweight title for the fourth time when she faces Joanne Calderwood at UFC 251 on June 6.

Calderwood was born in Kilmarnock, Scotland. At the age of 13, she fell into Muay Thai training unintentionally. Calderwood was involved in competitive swimming at the time when her mother asked her to go along with her younger brother to Muay Thai class in order to keep him company. During this unplanned outing, she ended up falling in love with the sport. After convincing her mother, Calderwood began attending two Muay Thai classes every week.

Calderwood’s training time quickly increased until she began working after high school. 12-hour shifts at a hospital working with patients on ventilation machines left her with little energy for training. She came to a time in her life where she had to choose between her job and her fighting career. “JoJo” decided to leave her job and made a commitment to training.

She became the ISKA world flyweight champion, IKF European flyweight champion, the WKL European flyweight champion, and the WBC UK bantamweight champion. The now 33-year-old eventually moved to Canada to train at the Tri-Star gym and later made her way to Las Vegas where she currently trains at Syndicate MMA.

In 2014, she was a part of The Ultimate Fighter season 20. In her UFC debut, she beat the future RIZIN super atomweight champion, Seo Hee Ham, by unanimous decision. In 2015, she went against Maryna Moroz in her sophomore UFC bout at UFC Fight Night 64 where she lost by armbar in the first round. Calderwood has amassed a record of 14-4 overall since her first professional MMA bout in 2012.

At UFC 251 we will see these two kickboxing queens face off in the Octagon. These ladies have accrued a substantial amount of kickboxing experience since beginning their training as young girls. The result is yet to be determined, but they should both be applauded for their dedication to training and the strong commitment it takes to pursue the life of a fighter.