1 fighter on the chopping block at UFC Vegas 90

There is a fighter on the UFC Vegas 90 fight card who needs a win if they want to keep their job.

UFC fighter
UFC fighter / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

UFC Vegas 90 is by no means as stacked a card as next week's UFC 300, but it still boasts some very intriguing bouts. In the main event, fast-rising middleweight contender Brendan Allen looks to avenge a 2021 TKO loss to Chris Curtis. Since that fight, Allen has won six straight - all but one of them by rear-naked choke; however, he cannot afford to drop his guard again against a heavy hitter like Curtis, who has 12 additional knockouts in his win column.

Other highlights include the promotional debut of Valter Walker, the younger brother of light heavyweight fan favorite Johnny Walker; and the return of former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie after three and a half years away.

But there is one fighter who is on the ropes this weekend and will need a win if she wants to keep her job. Cynthia Calvillo is set to begin her second stint in the Octagon, but her first can be considered one of the most disappointing in recent memory. After winning her first three professional fights within four and a half months, she made her Octagon debut against Amanda Bobby Cooper at UFC 209 in March 2017.

Initially poised to fight in the prelims, she found herself thrust in to the main card after Khabib Nurmagomedov's notorious illness. And she made the most of the opportunity, choking out Cooper in the first round. A month later at UFC 210 against another newcomer in Pearl Gonzalez, she did it again, getting the rear-naked choke in the third round.

Calvillo's next fight after those two dominant performances was a co-headlining job in Glasgow, Scotland against Joanne Calderwood. Despite missing weight, she came away with a unanimous decision win. Now armed with a three-win streak, she got herself a massive, potentially career-defining clash with former champion Carla Esparza at UFC 219.

Cynthia Calvillo will need a win to prove bringing her back into the UFC was the right decision

She was significantly favored in that fight, widely heralded as one of the future faces of the strawweight division despite having been born in the same year as her opponent. Unfortunately, she lost by unanimous decision, then was found to have tested positive for marijuana metabolites and suspended for nine months.

In November 2018, Calvillo finally returned with yet another rear-naked choke win, this time against Poliana Botelho, but not before missing weight again. She then defeated Cortney Casey by unanimous decision, then missed weight for the third time against Marina Rodriguez and drew with her.

In 2020, looking to finally end her struggles on the scales, Calvillo moved up to flyweight and immediately drew former title challenger Jessica Eye in a UFC APEX headliner. She won by unanimous decision, leading to hope that she would finally fulfill her championship potential in her new home. But that hope was not to last. A lopsided unanimous loss to another former title challenger in Katlyn Chookagian began a five-fight skid, culminating in a closely-contested split decision loss to Lupita Godinez in her strawweight return.

The UFC released her after that fight, only to bring her back as it prepared for its inaugural Noche UFC event on Mexican Independence Day. However, her planned fight with Elise Reed fell through. Now, almost a year removed from her last fight, Calvillo enters the Octagon yet again, looking for redemption. But it will not be easy, as she draws Piera Rodriguez.

The Venezuelan prospect immediately showed promise upon entering professional MMA, winning her first five fights in the regional scene before claiming the LFA strawweight title with a fifth-round finish of Svetlana Gotsyk. That got her an invitation to Dana White's Contender Series, where she earned a UFC contract with a unanimous decision win over Valesca Machado.

She has since gone 2-1 in the Octagon, outpointing Kay Hansen and Sam Hughes before being armbarred by Gillian Robertson. Now she will be looking to rebound from her first-ever defeat and potentially end her opponent's UFC career.


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