CLEVELAND -- Eye believes.
Every time UFC women’s bantamweight contender Jessica Eye steps into The Octagon, she is fighting not only for her career, but for something more important. Eye is fighting to raise awareness for cancer research, especially after watching her father battle and eventually succumb to GBM (Glioblasoma).
“It was a hard battle for him,” Eye said. “Most people, they can understand cancer, but until it actually hits your family and hits you personally, you don’t understand, and that’s what made me want to give back in some kind of way to make people believe.
“Maybe somebody going through it and are not sure how the next month’s going to go, but to just have hope and belief that something good is going to happen and they’re going to pull through it.”
Eye has always felt the love and support of her hometown, and on the verge of fighting Bethe Correia on the undercard of UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Saturday night, she wanted to pay that kindness forward.
Eye released a new “Eye Believe” t-shirt on August 24, and 50 percent of the proceeds are going to the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland.
“I started ‘Eye Believe’ many years ago with my father, and it was basically when I first started fighting,” Eye recalled. “Everyone was like, ‘Women fighting? It’s never going to happen.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to make it to the UFC one day.’
“They were like, ‘Women will never be in the UFC.’ Whenever anyone said that to me, I was like, ‘No! I believe. I believe in myself and I’m going to show others how to believe in me too.”
According to Eye, the initial reaction to the t-shirt’s release has been positive, and she hopes to spark even more support with a win in front of the home fans Saturday night.
“Amazing response to it,” Eye said. “I feel like it has a strong meaning, and anytime you see something with a strong meaning, it’s easy to kind of get behind it.”
This is Part Five of our seven-story series leading up to Eye’s bantamweight bout against Correia at UFC 203 in Cleveland Saturday night.