ST. LOUIS – Jessica Eye has had a “(expletive) road” to get to her first UFC bout as a flyweight. But now that it’s finally here, she’s actually glad about the way things happened.
Eye was on a four-fight losing losing skid heading into a TUF 25 Finale meeting with Aspen Ladd. As she prepared for it, the UFC’s women’s flyweight division was announced. Eye’s idea became simple: get a win there, then fight again in her rightful division.
That went down the drain the day the two were supposed to meet, when Ladd got sick and the fight got canceled. Still, there was a silver lining: Eye did get her flyweight booking after all – and a pay-per-view main-card booking against Paige VanZant, no less.
But then an injury pulled VanZant out of that one.
Four straight losses and two canceled fights later, not to mention a UFC debut win overturned due to a failed drug test, one wouldn’t blame Eye for being kind of sour about her run so far.
But “Evil” Eye still tries to focus on the positives.
“Since the moment I got into the UFC, it’s been kind of a (expletive) road for me,” Eye told reporters this Friday at a media day ahead of UFC Fight Night 124. “From my first fight until some of the other fights that have happened. I’m glad that I took the time off that I did and I’m glad that things kind of happened the way they did.
“Because I don’t think I would appreciate this moment as much as I have. Or realized that, maybe those other moments were making me to this point.”
This point, of course, is Eye’s (11-6 MMA, 1-5 UFC) UFC Fight Night 124 preliminary card meeting with Brazil’s Kalindra Faria (18-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), which streams live on UFC Fight Pass from Scottstrade Center in St-Louis.
Eye had been a top 125-pound contender before joining the UFC. In fact, she was on a seven-fight winning streak, including an unbeaten three-fight run at Bellator, before the promotion released her.
The UFC didn’t have a flyweight division then and Eye, a free agent, hadn’t competed at 135 pounds. But then they gave her a call.
“I had no choice,” Eye said. “Where else was I supposed to go? At that point, I was 27 years old. What was I supposed to do? Fight locally again and see what I could do?”
So Eye gave it a shot. Admittedly, she “wasn’t the greatest” bantamweight. But in hindsight, she believes she wasn’t the worst, either. Not only has she never suffered significant damage in her UFC outings, but all of her UFC setbacks have been decisions – and four of them were to women who have either held or challenged for the women’s 135-pound title.
Eye hears everyone saying that, given her skid, this is a do-or-die situation. But, then again, every fight is do-or-die. The fact is, after much pleading, she’s got a chance to once more prove she’s one of the top 125-pound fighters in the world.
“If I focus on me and what my skill set it, there is no 125er in the world that can outclass me, at all,” Eye said. “And I believe that.”
Today, Eye woke up at 129 pounds, likely proving the weight cut will not be a problem. And to prove just how big of a difference those 10 pounds from bantamweight to flyweight are going to make, she offers an analogy.
“Have you ever run a mile before and you ran it normally, your normal weight – then put a 10-pound vest on and then run that mile?” Eye said. “Then tell me how much slower you are. Tell me how much it changes the ability. Or how you have to be able to run that mile. You have to change the game plan and everything. It’s a little bit harder.
“I think that, now, I am allowed to be at my normal weight class. I’m able to change some things in my training. I just – I feel more like me. I feel like I’m in the right skin, if that makes sense.”
To hear more from Eye, check out the video above.
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- UFC Fight Night 124 weigh-in results and live video stream (10 a.m. ET)
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: It took '(expletive) road' to get here, but Jessica Eye excited for first UFC flyweight fight