Entering UFC 257 on Saturday, Jessica Eye is aware that opponent Joanne Calderwood is no fan of hers. Calderwood has been vocal about her dislike of Eye, something that stems from failed weight cuts and an exchange over twitter — but Eye, simply put, doesn’t get it.
“I don’t really feel there’s a beef. If that’s what’s going to get her out of bed to come fight me, then okay,” Eye told Cageside Press during a virtual media day to promote Saturday night’s PPV event. “How do you have beef with another fighter? She never did anything to me, I don’t even know her.”
Besides which, the weigh-in troubles — Eye missed weight for her last two bouts, including once by a mere quarter of a pound — had a serious underlying cause. One that landed her in hospital back in July 2020, weeks after losing her fight to Cynthia Calvillo.
“Thank god I lost that fight. Because me losing that fight means I get to be a better me,” Eye stated. “I had no idea what I was truly dealing with.”
What she was dealing with was something Eye would later refer to as “a dead organ,” not to mention a staph infection. That dead organ? Her gall bladder. There were signs it had been acting up, though Eye wasn’t exactly cognizant of them being gall bladder-related. And she ignored the pain for years.
“Fighters are the biggest liars in the world. Because we lie about pain all the time,” said Eye. “Whether we’re in it, or whether we feel it. I think I was lying to myself for many, many years about things that I was feeling. After [the Cynthia Calvillo] fight, it was so bad. The weight cut was absolutely terrible.”
It was actually her fight against Valentina Shevchenko in June 2019 where Eye felt the pain in her stomach for the first time. “I was literally in pain, just grabbing my belly button, and being like ‘something’s wrong with my stomach.'” The issue flared up against against Viviane Araujo that December, but Eye was getting mixed signals, and chalked it up to her time of the month.
“It wasn’t until I found myself in the hospital July 7  when I found out something was very wrong with me,” the flyweight revealed. The first things doctors mentioned to her were colitis, crohn’s disease, and colon cancer — the latter of which runs in her family. All very scary. And cancer, “it’s definitely something I still have to worry about.” But in the end, her condition was narrowed down to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and a problematic gall bladder, which was removed in August.
No one, after two consecutive misses at the scales, bothered to reach out to her. That bothers Eye a lot, it seems. She lacked support from anyone outside her coaches, who she would later call “more like friends. Friends that have the ability to take me to the next level.”
“That’s how disgustingly we’ve treat each other as human beings,” Eye observed. “We instantly, instead of asking somebody who has a track record of making weight every time, nobody turned around [and questioned what was going on]. Not fellow fighters, not anybody came out to me and said ‘man, Jessica, is something wrong?'”
“Nobody reached out to say ‘hey dude, maybe we could help you, is there something going on? Do you need a doctor? Let’s talk about it,'” Eye continued. The UFC PI were stumped as well.
“If people aren’t making weight, there’s problems, and it’s not a discipline thing. Especially going into my 14th UFC fight, I’ve got over 10 fights and I never missed weight,” Eye pointed out. “It’s never happened. But instead, we push people down and we bully and we treat people bad. It is what it is. Me, I know what was going on. I fixed the problem because what it boils down to is, if I don’t fix the problem, no one will, and no one’s going to support me to do it.”
Eye successfully made weight Friday for the fight with Joanne Calderwood at UFC 257, perhaps indicating that the issues that hampered her at the scale are finally behind her. Now, she has a fight to look forward to.
UFC 257 takes place this Saturday, January 23 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs live on PPV.