LIKE any bride-to-be, Jojo Calderwood woke up on her wedding day with a stomach going like a tumble drier. The good thing, though, was that for once those nerves did not mean she was going to get punched in the face.

The 34-year-old returns to the UFC Octagon this evening to face Taila Santos as the new Mrs Joanne Wood, having married her coach John in a Las Vegas ceremony on October 30.

Given the time of year, it was only appropriate that there was a Halloween theme to the evening reception, with their guests turning up in fancy dress costume to celebrate with the happy couple.

The excitement of the big day has not left Wood yet as she looks to mark the recent award of a new four-fight UFC contract by defeating Santos to thrust her back into title contention in 2022.

The Kilmarnock fighter says she feels as relaxed as she has ever been this close to a bout, something she puts down to the lingering thrill from finally tying the knot with her partner. If anything, she says she felt more nervous walking down the aisle.

“It was an amazing day and I’m still buzzing from it,” she says via video call from her home in Vegas. “I feel like I’ve had another fight inside this fight camp as I got those same nerves.

“Waiting for someone to come over and say it was time to go felt like a fight day. Except this time I didn’t get punched in the face! And I knew I was definitely going to win this one.

“For the reception we made it a Halloween theme as we always throw a party around that time of year. So we booked the wedding for October 30 and just decided to combine two in one and had the guests in costume. It was a brilliant night.”

Married life, however, will not change a great deal in the bigger picture. The immediate aim for Wood will be to defeat Santos at the UFC Apex in Nevada and get back to winning ways following her loss to Lauren Murphy in June.

“I feel excited and a little bit weird as it’s fight week and I’ve got a lot more energy than usual,” she adds. “I think having just got married the excitement from that is still going through me.

“I’m looking forward to the fight. I looked up Taila’s record and it’s decent on paper. But when I started to look at who she’s fought, there was nobody of note until she came into the Contender series and took on someone with a better record than anyone she had fought before.

“I think her record is padded a little with fights against Brazilian local fighters. So I’m going into it feeling confident knowing that she’s not been in the ring with the same calibre of girls as me. I’m still expecting a tough fight but I’m happy to back myself to beat her.”

That her defeat to Murphy came on a split decision – and that her opponent then went on to lose to the flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko – still grates.

“It still hurts a bit that one,” she adds. “It feels like she scraped a win from me and then didn’t really do anything against the champion. But that’s on her, she has to live with that.

 “Split decisions definitely hurt more as I always feel that I get the short straw. These judges don’t really know much. Most of them don’t do the sport or even train.

“It’s really hurtful when you think you’ve won but are only going away with half your pay cheque. A lot of people say to me, ‘maybe it’s because you’re Scottish’ and those little doubts start to come into your head. Or is it because I kick more than throw punches? You just wonder sometimes.”

Out of that adversity, however, came some positive news in the form of a new UFC contract.

“Yip, I’ve got another four fights with them,” the Irvine-born battler said. “I’m really happy and grateful for that. I also got a little bit of a pay rise which was nice. Negotiating after a loss is always tricky but we’re proud and happy with what we got.

“I’ve been in the sport for a long time and in the UFC for eight years so it’s pretty awesome to still be here and getting another contract.”

And with her coach now also her husband, what has changed in their working relationship?

“Nothing really. From the first day we met to the first day after the wedding, it was just the same. We’re both professionals doing what we love to do. And it’s just amazing that we get to do it together.”