Kilmarnock flyweight Joanne Calderwood is shutting a prospective title shot out of her mind as she prepares to return on the UFC 242 bill in Dubai on Saturday night.
Rebounding from a loss to Katlyn Chookagian in her last bout in June, Calderwood will face Andrea Lee on the undercard of the high-profile return of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Unbeaten Nurmagomedov is set to face Dustin Poirier in his first bout since being fined and banned following the chaotic aftermath to his win over Conor McGregor in October last year.
The 32-year-old Calderwood is currently ranked fifth in the women’s world flyweight rankings but is intent on not looking ahead which she admits cost her in her points loss to Chookagian last time out.
Calderwood told the PA news agency: “I put too much pressure on myself before my last fight and I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter – you just have to win each battle to get where you want to go.
“I feel like concentrating on becoming UFC champion can take your mind away from where you want to go. Now I am a lot stronger mentally and a lot clearer about my focus ahead of this bout.”
Lee comes into the contest on the back of three straight wins and has made it clear she intends to claim the victory which she hopes would lead to a shot at current champion Valentina Shevchenko.
But Calderwood, who previously campaigned as a straw-weight before enduring weight issues after moving up, believes she is physically much stronger and approaching the peak of her career.
“I feel a big difference because I have no issues with making the weight any more,” added Calderwood. “Now I can take my mind off the fight and block out all the issues that come with it.”
Inevitably Nurmagomedov will acquire most of the media attention ahead of the contest, having succeeded in increasing UFC’s global profile, albeit in a manner that earned him a nine-month ban and a £380,000 fine.
The indirect benefits have filtered down to fighters like Calderwood, who added: “I definitely feel an increase in support and I am grateful to be part of an organisation that is going somewhere.
“I’m pleased to be on the undercard of such an amazing fighter – I respect every fighter, especially the greats.
“I’m proud and excited and I can’t wait to get out there and continue to represent Scotland.”