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UFC 266: Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo Preview and Breakdown

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Summer’s over but although the temperatures are beginning to cool down outdoors, the action inside the famed UFC Octagon is red-hot, and this Saturday’s UFC 266 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas is no exception.

Barring any late postponements for any reason, UFC 266 on Saturday night will feature 14 MMA fights and a championship doubleheader– but the main card action begins with a top-5 showdown at women’s flyweight.

To kick off the main card action at UFC 266, No. 1 contender Jessica Andrade (21-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) will battle No. 5 contender Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) in a three-round fight at five minutes per round.

UFC 266 Fighter Comparison

Heading into the main card opener at UFC 266 on Saturday night, Cynthia Calvillo is the taller fighter at 5-foot-4, compared to Jessica Andrade’s 5-foot-1 frame.

In addition, Calvillo owns two-inch reach (64 inches to 62 inches) and leg reach (37 inches to 35 inches) advantages over Andrade entering UFC 266.

Jessica Andrade Looks to Bounce Back

Jessica Andrade comes into UFC 266 this weekend having posted a record of 2-3 in her last five fights, most recently dropping a second-round knockout (elbow shots from the crucifix position) to incumbent champion Valentina Shevchenko during UFC 261’s co-headliner back in April.

Prior to that, she knocked out Katlyn Chookagian in the first round of their fight during UFC Fight Island 6’s co-main event in October of last year.

In her post-fight interview, through her translator, Andrade explained her emotions to Daniel Cormier.

“You know, when you fight with happiness like I’m happy tonight, there’s only one result you can have,” Andrade said.

Since that night, Andrade has had very little to smile about in terms of fight results.

A key storyline going into UFC 266 this weekend for the Andrade camp will be whether or not she can turn it around and get back in the championship picture for a fight against the winner of the UFC 266 co-main event with a victory here.

A loss during UFC 266 on Saturday would be detrimental to Andrade’s championship aspirations in the immediate future.

Cynthia Calvillo Shares Common Opponent with Andrade

A universal storyline heading into the fight this weekend at UFC 266 is the fact that both Andrade and Calvillo share a common opponent in their recent fights.

In the other corner, Cynthia Calvillo enters UFC 266 having gone 3-1-1 in her last five MMA appearances, losing via unanimous decision to Chookagian during UFC 255 last November.

During a recent interview with USA Today’s MMA Junkie, Calvillo explained that she’s not underestimating her adversary in the cage this weekend.

“I’m really excited. She’s a dangerous fighter and that excites me,” Calvillo says. “Anything that I fear, like I like to do things that scare me. I just really feel like she possesses the danger. You can just get knocked out if she clips you, so you have to be really smart. I think it’s a really good fight for me, I think I have really good footwork.”

Much like Andrade, a key storyline for Calvillo going into UFC 266 is whether or not she can bounce back from defeat last time out and improve her positioning in the title picture at 125 lbs.

Perhaps the bigger storyline going into this one is the difference in age between the women, as Calvillo is (as of fight night) five years the elder of Andrade at 35 years old.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, this bout at UFC 266 looks as though it’ll be a toss-up, as both women subscribe to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, with Andrade holding a black belt in BJJ, but Calvillo counters with backgrounds in Muay-Thai and wrestling.

Andrade Can End This in Many Ways

As Jessica Andrade has shown on film, she can end a fight in multiple different ways, such as she did in May of 2019 when she fought Rose Namajunas during UFC 237‘s main event.

In the second round of a scheduled five for the UFC Strawweight Championship, Andrade had Namajunas in a clinch and executed a takedown, ending in a vicious slam to score the knockout.

That fight at UFC 237 was the 11th in promotional history to end with a knockout via slam and last until December of 2020 when Jordan Leavitt scored a slam knockout early in round one against Matt Wiman, who retired after the fight.

All Jessica Andrade needs to do is establish and maintain control against Cynthia Calvillo during UFC 266 and she’ll have this one in the bag.

Calvillo Deadly with Rear-Naked Chokes

In the other corner, pay attention to Cynthia Calvillo’s submission prowess in UFC 266, especially her rear-naked chokes, which proved to be the difference against Poliana Botelho in November of 2018.

After dumping Bothelo down twice in the opening round, Calvillo was able to take the back mount upon her second takedown and softened Bothelo up with left-handed punches, sliding her arm around the neck to sink in the rear-naked choke to turn out Botelho’s lights.

If Cynthia Calvillo can take the back mount and secure the rear-naked choke, UFC 266’s main card will open up with a short fight.

Final Thoughts

UFC 266 will open up with an electric battle at 125 lbs. If you blink during this fight, chances are you’ll miss something amazing.

Prediction: Jessica Andrade by Second-Round TKO


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