CLEVELAND -- A flyweight in every other promotion she has fought, when Jessica “Evil” Eye signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2013, she was forced to move up to bantamweight because it was the only women’s class in the world’s preeminent mixed martial arts organization at the time.
But now, four-plus years later, Eye is looking to make the switch back to flyweight as the UFC forms its third women’s division. And after four straight losses and five setbacks in her last six outings at bantamweight, the switch cannot come soon enough for the Cleveland native.
“I feel like something found a reason for me not to fight, and I’m going to stick with that in whatever way it is so that I can be back at 125,” Eye said.
UFC's Jessica Eye awaits new opponent after cancelled bout
Prior to entering the UFC, Eye completed successfully at flyweight for the NAAFS (North American Allied Fight Series and Bellator, and she compiled a 9-1 record, of which two were earned by technical knockout because of strikes with elbows and punches, one via submission from an arm-triangle choke and seven by decision.
Her only loss came via a rear-naked choke to Irish-born Aisling Daly, which came in a bout for the NAAFS Flyweight Championship.
Additionally, Eye won the Ring of Combat 130-pound championship in just her third professional bout.
“Let’s face it, how did anyone find out about me in fighting? I was a 125er for years,” Eye said. “I was in Bellator at 125. I beat everyone in Bellator. They cut their division, and thankfully, the UFC started and Strikeforce had started at that time to move up and do more weight classes, so 135 was the only place to go.
“I was 26 years old. What was I supposed to do? Sit on the bench until something bigger and better happened? I had no choice but to go up in weight, so I think I thought at that time, ‘Maybe I need to put on more muscle. Maybe I need to do all these other things to get myself suited for 135.’”
Eye is hoping a return to her more natural fighting weight of 125 pounds will lead to a renaissance in her career.
“I started gaining weight and it slowed me down, changed my mechanics,” Eye said. “It compromised what made me the best fighter in the world.
“I don’t care what anybody says. I was the No. 1 best fighter at 125, and I want my chance to be there. Cody Garbrandt and Stipe Miocic, I’ve been training alongside them, fighting alongside them for years, and they got to run in their lane. I was forced out of my lane, and I was told I had to go up a weight class to do anything. I don’t walk as heavy as them.”
Reports of The Ultimate Fighter welcoming in the women’s flyweight division with a reality-show tournament have long been discussed, but Eye hopes to be selected as a coach for, and not be expected to compete on the show.
“I’ve earned my stripes,” Eye said. “I’ve fought a lot of girls, and let’s face it, at 135, no one’s even made me bleed. I’m trying to figure out a moment where I’ve been dominated in any of these fights.
“I want to be the first female to put a 125-pound strap around my waist, and I’ll be there. I will. It has to happen.”