Jessica Eye has turned up the heat ahead of her scheduled number-one-contenders bout against Miesha Tate this summer. Eye believes she has not been granted the respect she deserves from Tate and the rest of the women’s 135lb division. The winner will be in line for a shot at the Women’s Bantamweight Championship, currently held by Ronda Rousey who faces Bethe Correira in Brazil at UFC 190, August 1.
For Eye, the year is about two things. First, disposing of Miesha Tate and second, winning championship gold. The Ohio native was expecting a shot at Ronda’s gold after meeting with UFC president Dana White, Ronda Rousey and her manager in the south west a number of weeks back, but it hasn’t panned out that way.
“I never thought the Miesha Tate fight was going to happen. It wasn’t what I thought was going to happen, but I’m ok with it. It’s a fight that I think works well for me. You know, Miesha’s not giving me good respect and I knew that going in there, just like no one in the women’s 135lb division, and I’ve proven myself. I’ve beaten Sarah Kaufmann who is a previous champion. I fought Alexis Davis who is also a previous champion, who I still think I won against. “
The popular bantamweight told Talkingbrawlsmma.com that she has been disrespected by Tate right from the start of her UFC career.
“I had it all the way back to my first UFC fight. I remember meeting her. I was in Bellator and I don’t really think she knew I was a fighter. She’s just very unwelcoming. I don’t know if she was arguing with Bryan or what the hell was going on, but there was something going on when someone introduced her to me; like, ‘hey this is Jessica Eye, she fights in Bellator,’ and she smugged me and I’ve never forgot that. I wasn’t in the UFC, I’d just signed for Bellator.”
Eye added: “I’d never thought at any point that I’d be in the UFC and go up to 135lbs. I thought I’d be a 25er’ forever, which I was praying to God I wouldn’t be, but meeting her that time was kind of awkward, she was really rude. I didn’t have many exchanges with her until she was getting ready to fight Sarah McMann and I was getting ready to fight Leslie, there was some banter back and forth and when I met her in Mexico I felt like she caught me off guard. When she came over to me She was really cool with me and said some really respectful things, all off a sudden I watched an interview, well, someone else told me I needed to watch an interview. She just didn’t really show me the kind of respect I felt I deserved. She was basically dogging me and saying I wasn’t adequate to fight a woman of her caliber, and that’s so untrue and so not the case, if that’s what she thinks, she’s really going have her hands full with me.”
The Strong Style Fight Team standout was then asked if she thought Tate may have been the two faced person Rousey had accused her of being in the past, and with an honest response, Eye explained that she isn’t in the UFC to make friends.
“Listen, you don’t have to come up and shake my hand. I don’t go up and shake the hand of anyone else, other than Ronda’s, she’s the champion and she deserves it, because she is the champion. In terms of all the other girls in the division, I’m not going to go up and shake your hand unless I’m cool with you and I know you, which are very few of them. I don’t have to shake your hand, I don’t have to say hello. It’s nothing personal. It’s nothing disrespectful. I’m not going to come shake the hand of someone who’s standing in the way of my future and be someone I’m not. I don’t need more friends. Don’t come over and talk, I don’t need to save face for you. We don’t have to hate. we don’t have to like. I’ll just show up and I’ll see you there.”
The confidence, ambition and honesty of Eye is refreshing to see. You can sense she is desperate for that world title shot. Unlike many that have gone before the dragon and been slayed, it’s not about Ronda for Eye, it’s about the gold. Eye stressed she will be in that position before the year is up, and believes it will be her approach and skill set that will see that into fruition.
“If this is a standing fight, I win it. I win against anyone in the UFC, via Holly or anybody. Not boxing, my MMA boxing is better and on a completely different level, and I know that. “
The 28-year-old had a well documented troubled upbringing. She’s learnt from the troubles of her childhood. Her clarity and perspective on fighting has become secondary to what occurred in her adolescence. Knowing what she has gone through in her life has expelled doubts of what she can achieve as a mixed martial artist in the future. Making her a very dangerous opponent for anybody.
“Oh my Goodness. I have faced way worse challenges in my life than fighting in front of thousands of people against another female who puts her pants on one leg at a time just like me, trains just like me. I have a really hard time giving her (Rousey) so much respect that I don’t give myself the respect for the things that I went through outside the Octagon that are so much harder. Life is harder outside the Octagon then it is inside of it. I don’t see it as a challenge, but I see it as a moment of uprising and as a moment of my clarity as an individual of how I think in and out of the cage. I think that some of these girls aren’t winning in the cage because they aren’t winning outside of the cage.
Eye’s mentality is her greatest weapon if she is to earn that shot at Rousey. Too often ladies are beaten before they even enter the cage with the champion. They radically adjust their game plan, and often mindset, in order to throw the champion off her game. How often have we seen challengers start out on the front foot against Rousey and it simply hasn’t worked. For Eye, it’s about balancing out the respect, respecting her own skills as much as the champions, but ultimately giving her own repertoire and belief enough respect. Who knows what the future holds for ‘Evil Eye’, but she certainly has the mindset of a champion.
Photo: Fox Sports
You can listen to the full interview on next week’s talking brawls podcast.
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