UFC on ESPN 10: Jessica Eye Gives Her Take on State of Flyweight Division

Jessica Eye returns to the octagon this weekend, in the main event of UFC on ESPN 10.  It’s a booking — opposite Cynthia Calvillo — that raised some eyebrows when announced.

After all, the pair aren’t the biggest names.  Yet Eye (15-7, 1NC) is the top contender in the weight class, while Calvillo is a high-profile strawweight moving up.  It’s an important fight for the women’s flyweight division, which has been ruled with an iron fist by Valentina Shevchenko.

Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press at the event’s media day on Thursday, Eye gave her take on where the weight class stands right now.

“This will be my 13th UFC fight, I’m 10 years as a professional.  I’ve got over 20 professional fights.  It’s pretty awesome.  Going into my 13th UFC Fight Night I get to main event a show.  So I think that the flyweight division is developing right,” Eye began.  “It was no different than the bantamweight [division].  I remember whenever we were like, ‘oh, Ronda [Rousey] is the only one’ and then we saw that title be like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.  Right?  Like it takes time for things to sort themselves out and takes time for divisions to work.”

“I’m so proud of the flyweight division.  I think all the girls are dope.  I think all of them are awesome,” Eye continued.  Before adding one contradiction.  “There’s only like one I really don’t like and I’m probably never going to fight her just because I don’t like her and she don’t deserve to stand in the cage with me.  I’ll meet her in a back alley.  But I’m proud of everybody.  I’m totally proud of the division.  I’m proud of where it’s going.  I’m proud of what is being developed.  You know what I mean?”

Asked later by Cageside Press if she’d name the fighter in question, Eye declined.  But she did continue with what was essentially a state of the flyweight division address.

“I think that if we continue on the right track, you get moments like this where your vets like myself get a chance to showcase our stardom as well as our athleticism and ability to create a card,” Eye continued.  And she expects to see more of those moments.  “You know, you’ll see more more times you’ll see maybe a female flyweight maybe main event a card that isn’t the champ or the number one girl.  You’ll see just two really good fighters, maybe five or ten or maybe unranked because they’re just that good.  So I think we’re forever changing and developing and again, there’s no stipulation, there’s no mold to create, just keep trying new things.”

It’s certainly a positive outlook.  But then, Eye has had to stay positive throughout many tough times in her life.  The loss to Valentina Shevchenko — a head kick emblazoned  in the minds of many fight fans — far from the worst.

“Fighting and training isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.  Let alone at the age of 33,” Eye told us.  “I’m wiser, I’m calmer and better about the things that I do that— that loss was not the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do.  Saying goodbye to my father was harder, saying ‘I forgive you’ for many years of things that have been longer than my fight career.  Losing people I love to death, to drug overdoses, to violence in the streets from the riots.  The fighting is not the hardest thing I’m going to do, losing is not the hardest thing I’m going to do.  So for me, why should I give it more than what it is?  It’s a part of my growth.  It’s a part of my story.  It’s a part of who I am.”

UFC on ESPN 10 takes place this Saturday, June 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.  The card airs live on ESPN and ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).