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Joanne Calderwood Explains Her Exit from Tri-Star and Finding Happiness in Las Vegas

Joanne Calderwood explains why she left the Tri-Star gym in Canada and how she finally found a new home in Las Vegas while working with Syndicate MMA and the UFC Performance Institute

Joanne Calderwood has been a nomad for the past couple of years trying to find the best camp suited to turn her into a world champion.

After leaving her native Scotland, Calderwood thought she found a home at the Tri-Star gym in Montreal where she relocated and trained for several fights in the UFC.

On the surface, the former “Ultimate Fighter” contender seemed happy and content but in reality she never quite settled into a rhythm with the training regimen and there’s little doubt it was detrimental to her progression as an athlete.

“I kind of forced it too much,” Calderwood said about her time at Tri-Star. “Kind of like when you’re in a relationship and you’re trying too hard. I really wanted to make it work there and I loved the guys there. I loved training with the guys but to be honest, when I did take a step back, something had to change there. Looking back, it was just not the gym for me.

“I’m still in good terms with them but every gym you go to and I’ve experienced a lot of gyms out there, I just really wanted to make Tri-Star work and I kind of forced it too much. When I take a step back, I probably should have left a few months before I did.”

As much as it might seem like Calderwood would regret her time at Tri-Star, she actually took the entire experience as a positive because of where it led her next.

After taking some time off to visit Australia, the 31-year old Scottish flyweight decided to pay a visit to the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas where athletes are invited to train, eat, receive physical therapy, as well as nutrition help all for free.

Once she made her way to Las Vegas, Calderwood not only enjoyed her time at the UFC Performance Institute but she also found a team after beginning to work with the coaches at Syndicate MMA, a highly regarded gym where numerous top fighters call home.

Rather than jumping in head first as she did when moving to Canada, Calderwood instead tempered her expectations in Las Vegas to ensure that she really did love it before committing to training there full time.

“I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself to come over here,” Calderwood explained. “When I went to Canada, I fell in love within two days being at Tri-Star. This time, I was like let’s just take our time and just settle in and luckily I didn’t have a fight at the time. So I didn’t have that pressure that I needed to be in a camp right away. I could relax and I went in with an open mind that if this didn’t work, I could go somewhere else. I made that mistake at Tri-Star, just always trying to make it work.

“Now I have the open mind that if things don’t work, I can always move on and I could go to another gym. Athletes do it all the time. I gave it some time like two weeks and I settled in fine. It had everything I was looking for. It had female fighters and other fighters in my weigh division so there was a good group of girls. This far in my career, I’ve never had female training partners so that was a big change I wanted to make.”

Now as she approaches her next fight on Saturday night against Kalindra Faria at UFC Fight Night in Lincoln, Nebraska, Calderwood is not only at ease with her decision to train in Las Vegas but she’s happier than she’s been in a long time before stepping into the cage.

“I feel really happy here,” Calderwood said. “I was actually thinking that today when I was leaving the gym and going to the PI, f–k man we have the most stressful, frustrating job ever. I love it. I love training and I love everything but if you have a bad day in the gym and if you take that home with you, it kind of carries on and you have a bad day.

“I’m just happy that I found a place that I can call home and take my fighting to the next level. I think every fighter looks for that home and that gym that can take their career to the next level. I feel at ease and at peace here. I wasn’t in the best mindset in Montreal. I was homesick and I was focused on negative things. My mindset has changed and I am more positive. Everything is coming together and it’s the way I want it.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.
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