No fighter ever wants to lose, but it’s almost as disappointing to come out of a hard-fought battle that winds up being declared a draw.
That’s what happened to strawweight contenders Cynthia Calvillo and Marina Rodriguez, who co-headlined UFC on ESPN 7 in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night. The two went to war for three full rounds, but when it was over, the judges couldn’t decide on who the victor was. Two saw it even at 28-28 while the third had it 29-28 Rodriguez, indicative of a battle that could have gone in any direction in terms of scoring.
Rodriguez (12-0-2) stepped in on short notice when original Calvillo opponent Claudia Gadelha withdrew from the bout due to a nagging ankle injury. Rodriguez performed well, landing a plethora of kicks, elbows, right hands and knees to the body for two rounds. She was controlling the action and besting Calvillo for nearly every minute of the fight and seemed well on her way to a decision win. But Calvillo (8-1-1) turned the tables in the third when she tore into her foe with punches and elbows to the head and body after an early takedown. Her ground-and-pound nearly resulted in a stoppage, but Rodriguez held on to survive until the final horn. Both women had a lot to say after their draw.
“I knew I had to go out there in the third and try to get her out of there,” Calvillo said. “I didn’t do that, but definitely felt like that was a 10-8 [third round]. It’s really unfortunate. I should have capitalized more. I could have gotten the finish there, but I just didn’t do what I should have done. She’s a tough fighter; she’s 12-0 for a reason.”
Rodriguez had a slightly different view of what transpired.
“Throughout the fight, whenever we were standing, I was controlling the fight and getting the best of her through the first two rounds,” Rodriguez countered. “I don’t know if a 10-8 was warranted for the last round, but it is what it is.”
The fight wasn’t without controversy heading in, either. Calvillo came in an egregious 4.5 pounds over the strawweight limit at Friday’s weigh-ins, and Rodriguez said she felt that added weight on the ground.
“Whenever we were on the ground and she was putting her weight on me, those four and a half pounds really did make a difference,” Rodriguez said. “I was really upset when I found out that she missed and by how much she missed. It’s the only thing that we are really obliged to do — make weight. The rest, how you perform or whatever doesn’t matter, but you have to make weight. Because of her style, I knew that the weight would be an advantage.”
Calvillo admitted she messed up royally with her weigh-in mishap as well.
“I’m bummed out because of the whole weight thing,” Calvillo said. “I take these fights very seriously and I haven’t had the best luck in the last two years, but I’m going to keep showing up and getting better. I dropped the ball, that’s all I can say.”
Rodriguez could have easily refused to fight Calvillo when she missed weight so badly. But the Brazilian felt compelled to remain on the card and not disappoint the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
“I knew I was in a position where I couldn’t let the UFC down and take their co-main event away,” Rodriguez said. “It was a risk. I was putting my undefeated record on the line and her fight style is really helped by the missed weight. When the fight was on the feet, I was dominating.”