UFC Fight Night 198 will include a face-off between “The Ultimate Fighter” veteran Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood and Contender Series alumni Taila Santos of Brazil.
Both women are at high points in their careers, while Calderwood has alternated wins and losses over her last few, this came at a time where she was next in line for a title shot. A short-notice fight derailed that immediate plan but she is always a fight or two away from being the next potential challenger.
Tails Santos, after a split decision loss in her UFC debut against Mara Romero Borella, has flown through the division, picking up impressive and notable wins quickly. These include the likes of Molly McCann, Gillian Robertson, and Roxanne Modafferi. However, a win over Calderwood would represent the biggest win of her career and would truly put her into title contention.
Calderwood vs. Santos betting odds
The rising prospect Taila Santos will come into the fight as a -320 favorite, a substantial requirement to make a profit. On the other hand, putting your money on the veteran Calderwood could potentially pay off handsomely should she win.
- Calderwood: +260
- Santos: -320
Calderwood vs. Santos breakdown
It’s no secret that Calderwood finds her most success on the feet and typically has difficulty when the fight hits the mat. Her background is Muay Thai and it’s evident in her MMA game. She stands very tall and keeps her head on the centerline. This allows her to work long and with a wide variety of shots as her base isn’t too spread out, but it does add difficulty to her ability to move her head. She works behind the lead kick often, switch-kicking off of her lead to the head, body, and leg. She also throws a good lead teep to the body, sometimes lazily in order to set up the spinning backfist off of the kick.
She also has very good takedown defense which is enhanced by her dangerous clinch game. She is good at turning any grappling clinch into a plum clinch and finding sharp knees down the middle and good elbows over the top, and even better, she is one of the best at landing strikes off of the break. This strength in her game is most evident out in the open, she has great clinch work against the fence, and great takedown defense but sometimes gets bullied around and stuck defending on the cage rather than building any momentum of her own.
All of these aspects of her game work to a better effect when she leads. When she pushes forwards and leads the exchanges she is able to push people back with her teeps and long kicks, and box behind it. When she is put on the backfoot, her particularly weak reaction time sometimes leaves her vulnerable to faster boxers coming straight down the middle and tagging her with jabs and crosses before she can slip and counter. When she leads, she is also able to keep her back to the center of the octagon and force wrestlers to shoot from out in the open where the clinch or sprawls are more available and she can’t get caught against the fence. However, because she gives up size to a lot of the other women at flyweight, getting bullied against the cage and on the mat has become a problem.
Santos is the harder hitter and generally more athletic fighter of the two. She has tremendous power especially for the weight class, and she throws heavy with her feet planted and all her weight behind her shots. She uses a high guard because she tends to take shots half blocked in order to land harder ones herself. However, the key takeaway is that she throws in a long boxing range and Calderwood will be looking for a fight at kicking range.
Another issue for Calderwood in this match-up is that while Calderwood is known for being bullied by bigger women, Santos is known for her strength, and given the opportunity against the fence, is a master at getting to a double-under body lock and dragging opponents down to the floor. From there Santos is happy sitting inside the guard and ripping shots into the body or over the top while stuffing her opponent’s back against the cage and making it uncomfortable. Her superior head positioning allows her to keep control while her opponents try to escape so that even if they do they typically give up another bad position, and Santos finds herself still in on a takedown or on the back.
Calderwood vs. Santos prediction
Calderwood, for sure, has to avoid the fence and try to keep the fight on the outside for the most part. If she can stay active and get Santos to fall into a more defensive mindset, her larger repertoire of attacks can allow her to pull ahead. However, the moment Santos finds a working strategy to get inside and exchange in the pocket, her superior fluidity and power will pick apart Calderwood faster than vice versa.
I think the fight will be won in distance control, but the problem is this battle needs to be won a little fewer times by Santos to be as effective.
Prediction: Taila Santos via decision