Team Alpha Male’s standout strawweight, Cynthia Calvillo (6-0), has followed an unprecedented trajectory into the Ultimate Fighting Championship with no signs of slowing until she reaches the pinnacle of MMA in the 115-pound division.
Before Calvillo clashes with Carla ‘Cookie Monster’ Esparza (12-4), the former UFC Strawweight Champion, at UFC 219, the native of the Bay Area who transferred her talents to Sacramento chatted with Split-Decision MMA Podcast (link here), a Northern California show broadcasted from Modesto, about her breakneck pace since turning pro, training amongst the elite at Team Alpha Male (TAM), and how close the UFC strap is within her reach.
“For me, I like staying competing. The plan is to take it fight by fight. It all depends how healthy I am coming out of these fights. Honestly, for me, if I could have four to six fights per year, that would be great. You kind of learn after awhile with injuries and stuff how to train through them, and you can still fight. But you might have injuries that you’re still holding on to. It’s a little hard, so many fights, wear-and-tear, and the weight cuts. I did six in one year, and I did five this year. It’s doable, as long as you go in there and dominate and come out healthy from your fights, you can fight as many times as they allow you to.”
Secret Recovery Potion
“Honestly, you’ve got to train hard, but you’ve also got to train smart. It’s not about just running your body into the ground; it’s important that you recover just as hard as you work. I like getting into the bath for a cold plunge, but, yeah, a lot of stretching, foam rolling, stuff like that. If you just eat good and stretch, you’ll be fine.”
“I definitely do enjoy my food. I do like eating kind of healthy, and I do like eating my cookies—a little piece here or there. It’s just about three or four weeks where it’s really strict, depending where I’m at. I just like staying in the gym. Even if it wasn’t fight camp—even when I was injured, I’m always in the gym—everyday, sitting on the side of the mat as everybody else is training, and I’m doing my physical therapy; and doing that every single practice. It’s a lifestyle. I really enjoy doing this. I’m really living the dream every day.”
From the Bay Area to Team Alpha Male
“I went up to Sacramento to check it out, and it was just a better fit for me. It was a smaller gym [than AKA], but it had a big family feeling. Everybody trained together, and it was also smaller guys. We have a lot of high-level fighters from Team Alpha Male that are 45s [145-pounds] and under, or 55s [155-pounds] and under. At AKA, you’ve got nothing but the big boys over there: DC, Luke Rockhold. I was like, ‘I can’t go over there and train with those guys.’ I ain’t trying to spar with DC.”
Team Alpha Male Versus Everybody
“We have a lot of coaches, but I’ve just kept the same circle around me, which is my head coach, Justin Buchholz, and my Jiu-Jitsu coach, Fabio Prado. I just have a good click with them, and they’re my people. I truly believe they’re the ones who can make me a world champion. It’s a great program—world class!”
Title Implications at UFC 219
“If I keep winning, they [the UFC] can’t deny me. I’m ranked number six right now, and after I beat Carla, I’ll be ranked top five. Maybe another fight against a title challenger or a title eliminator, or if that title shot is there, I’ll take it, of course. That’s what I’m gunning for; that’s what I want.”
A Win at UFC 219 Would Be the Best Christmas Present
“That would be like the best Christmas present ever! That would be the best way to end 2017. Me being on top, cracking the top five, and, hopefully, getting a title shot would be amazing!”
Holiday Cheer During Fight Week
“I just chilled out by myself; I chilled out with my dog. On Christmas Eve, I went swimming, and then took a bath later on that night—had my diet food. The next day was Christmas Day, got up and had a semi-late practice. Later that night I was with my roommate and friend. They [Team Alpha Male] had a little Christmas sendoff for me. Urijah [Faber] was like, “Hey, come over to my house. We’re going to have a little sendoff for you; we’re going to have food, and it’ll be great.” I was like, ‘Cool.’ I get done with my training session, and I’m hungry. I think: they’ll have some good, healthy food there. I show up, and he catered like pasta, Italian food. I was like, ‘This is a sendoff for me? You couldn’t have gotten any other food?’ No, it was great. The holidays are great. Even if the food wasn’t for me, I’m happy I had people around me and watched them eat it.”