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UFC 203's Joanne Calderwood: Beating Letourneau showed 'I belong here'

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"Bad MoFo JoJo" sat down with Ariel Helwani for an extended chat ahead of her UFC 203 PPV fight against Jessica Andrade to talk about where she's at right now in her career.

Anyone who followed Joanne Calderwood's career closely knows that a couple years ago she was in a pretty bad place. Whether a mistake or a matter of circumstance, she'd ended up tying her personal and professional lives pretty closely together and when one started falling apart it seemed in danger of taking the other with it. A bad loss to Maryna Moroz, a close call against unheralded Cortney Casey. If she was going to become something closer to the contender many saw her as when she entered the UFC, something would have to change.

Fortunately for her, it seems that's the case. Calderwood looked much more like the confident striker that marched through the Invicta ranks last time out, taking a TKO win over former title contender Valerie Letourneau in the process. And in a recent interview with Ariel Helwani she detailed the difference between where she was, and where she is now.

"Yeah, completely different," Calderwood said of how she felt going into the Letourneau fight. "Just felt comfortable, happy. The most important thing was believing in myself and just enjoying it. It's just like, "I do this every day and this is what I do. I don't do anything else, I don't want to do anything else." So, I was putting too much pressure on myself before, because I had pushed my whole life into it. And it was like, 'I need to win this fight, I need to perform, I need to do all this.' And now, I still think that, but at the same time I'm like, 'If I lose, I lose.' I'll just go back to the gym and work on stuff and come back. Just the main thing is that I enjoy it when I'm in there and enjoy the lead up to it and embrace it a little bit more."

And while she may have been much happier going into the fight, it seems she left with a bit of a chip on her shoulder. Both having to answer for Letourneau's wardrobe problems post fight, and the feeling that those problems may have overshadowed what she feels was a career redefining win:

"Yeah, because people kept on saying in my interviews and stuff what Valerie had said," Calderwood agreed, when asked if she'd felt like some of the value had been taken out of her win. "And people were like, 'Why is it this big deal about...' It was our uniform alteration. And I watched the fight back and I was like... It's just weird watching it now. I thought I kinda stopped her a few times, but I got the finish, that was the main thing. I got the win and performed and the rest doesn't matter. But it did kinda put a wee... And the fact that I thought I deserved a bonus because I had stopped her and everyone was like... The one thing everyone was saying, 'Val is so tough and this is going to be a really hard fight for you.' And I just felt like I went out and proved everyone wrong. Sean Shelby didn't give me the fight at the start of the year, when I asked for it. He was like, 'No, it doesn't really make any sense for Valerie fighting you. She's just come off the title.' And I was like, "Well, what about Randa?" Because I wanted on the Ottawa card. So that also kinda made me think, 'See!? I belong here.'"

Calderwood also talked about her infamous "Broke as hell" post fight photo, that ended up getting her a new UFC contract, the cost of being a fighter in MMA today, her upcoming fight with Jessica Andrade, and much more. So, check the whole thing out. And get ready for UFC 203 this Saturday, September 10th, live from Cleveland, Ohio.