"I know where my place is going to be soon. And I know my place is getting closer and closer to a title shot for many reasons. For one, I'm the only one in the top 5 that hasn't fought Rousey and I deserve a chance before Bethe does because I've been in this division longer and I'm in the top 5. I deserve my chance. Everyone has gotten their chance and being Rousey or Zigano, whoever wins, I deserve a title shot. Whether or not people see me as 3-0 in the UFC, I personally see myself as 3-0 and the UFC sees me as 3-0 and looks at me that way, so I look at myself that way," stated UFC women's bantamweight contender Jessica Eye, who talked about her victory over Leslie Smith at UFC 180, her future plans, and much more. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations on your win over Leslie Smith. How do you feel about your performance?
JE: Thank you! It was amazing to finally fight the way that I train and the way that I spar. I guess she was the right opponent for it to all come out. It showed that I have the ability to be a complete fighter. It showed that I have Muay Thai, that I have cage control, and that I can handle pressure. Those are some of the things I have wanted to show and I'm happy that I was able to show that.
PC: Was she everything you had expected, or did she have some little wrinkles that you hadn't seen in previous fights?
JE: She did a good job of moving, which I noticed a lot more than I have with the other girls, but to be honest, I didn't really focus on her too much. I was just focusing on the fact that everything that I was doing was working and I was stopping her from doing anything to me. So I felt like...you expect people to be something in a fight, but you don't realize you're stopping them from being themselves because you're beating the crap out of them.
PC: Listening to the commentary and seeing some post-fight reactions, this is the Jessica Eye everyone has been waiting to see and it all came together for you.
JE: Absolutely! Being in the UFC is hard for everyone and everyone handles it differently. Unfortunately, I think I was focusing on hoping that people would like me and that I wouldn't lose. And then I didn't win and I wasn't winning the way that I wanted to and the way that I always have. I went in there and showed that and I think it's like you said, they all seen that and they were all really excited to see that from me. This is the fighter that they have expected from the beginning.
PC: It can be difficult sometimes traveling long distances and cutting weight and doing some of the pre-fight prep. Was this a difficult transition for you going to Mexico?
JE: It was really the best transition I've ever had going into a fight. It was just awesome and an amazing experience. The weight cut was super easy. Thank God I have my best friend, Evie, who was there to help me. My coaches were extremely proud of how I had things mapped out in my head. Even my friend Evie, who isn't an MMA fighter, helped me map out what food I was gonna eat on what days and what we learned previously from other fights to make sure we didn't make those same mistakes again. It was literally the best weight cut I've ever had. I mean, I ate the day of weigh-ins and was fine going into the fight the next day.
PC: You landed a right hand on her ear and it immediately exploded. Did you understand the amount of damage you inflicted right away?
JE: To be honest, I didn't know what it was. I didn't know if it was her ear or the side of her head. I couldn't tell; I just seen the blood. It wasn't until we were sitting there between rounds and I asked, "What's going on?" And they were like, "It's her ear. Her ear is cut bad." And I was thinking, man, that's terrible. It was in the 2nd round, like a minute in, and we clinched and I hit it a couple of times again and I really got a good look at it and I was like, "Oh my God, her ear is about to fall off (laughing)." When I noticed that, I don't know if me and Herb Dean was on the same wave lengths or what, but I think we both looked at it and was like, this ear is just hanging there and about to fall off. And then we had the timeout again.
PC: What is that like for a fighter who is there to inflict pain, but when you see her ear literally hanging on by a string, is it like, I hope they take a look at this thing or were you just gonna keep doing your job until the fight was stopped?
JE: Yeah, my job was like...I didn't care. You don't let go of a submission until they tap. You keep hitting an eye if you see it closing so you can affect their vision. Yeah, I continued to hit her ear to make it harder for her to focus on what I was doing. Yeah, it did become a target point. I know I got a lot of flack from people thinking it was wrong of me to do, but I was like, would it be right if she had done it to me? I think they get my drift saying I was right.
PC: I actually thought you did a good job at not going right hand happy and getting caught with something. You continued to mix it up well.
JE: Yeah, like I said, when I first saw the blood, I thought it was like her cheek or something. I knew I would continue to hit that side, but I wanted to continue to mix it up with the kicks because the right hands were there much easier mixing it up. I was able to work that right side. I didn't want to be one of those people to put all my eggs in one basket with the right hand and, like you said, maybe getting caught myself.
PC: You showed a lot of jubilation and excitement after that fight. Was that you letting out all of your emotions because it hasn't been an easy year for you?
JE: Yes! I wasn't celebrating her being hurt. It wasn't about her; it was about my win. I had the craziest year of my life, more than people will ever even know, and for me...I guess I'm not a girlie girl where I'm gonna sit there and ball my eyes out. I'm gonna scream my freaking head off and just be happy. That was a sigh of relief from all the hard work and from the 10 or 11 months being off, not collecting a paycheck and scared if I was gonna fight again or if I was gonna win again. These are all of the things that come to a fighter's mind when they are coming off of a loss. Is this the beginning of me losing a bunch? Is this the beginning of the end? What is this? To me, it was the beginning of me being the fighter I wanted to be. It had nothing to do with her. It had everything to do with me and my excitement for myself. And lets face it, in MMA, when all of the fans die down and everything, here I am two months after the fight still feeling good and I'm happy for me. It's gone away for everyone else. They move on with their life and they continue on and I still live it.
PC: You seemed to walk away from that fight okay. How soon would you like to come back?
JE: Well, let's just say there is always something stirring for Jessica and I'm already back in training. I had little minor injuries from the fight that I couldn't tell if they were gonna be injuries or just from training; the normal wear and tear. I'm back in the gym and I'm just waiting on another phone call to give me an exact date when things are gonna be going down for me. But I'm gonna be active. I think the buzz is going around about me in general, so why not keep it going.
PC: It seems like calling people out is the thing to do these days. Anyone in particular you want to fight or are you still just willing to face whoever is in front of you and go that route?
JE: I know where my place is going to be soon. And I know my place is getting closer and closer to a title shot for many reasons. For one, I'm the only one in the top 5 that hasn't fought Rousey and I deserve a chance before Bethe does because I've been in this division longer and I'm in the top 5. I deserve my chance. Everyone has gotten their chance and being Rousey or Zigano, whoever wins, I deserve a title shot. Whether or not people see me as 3-0 in the UFC, I personally see myself as 3-0 and the UFC sees me as 3-0 and looks at me that way, so I look at myself that way.
PC: Great performance again. I wish you all the best. Is there anything else you want to add?
JE: Thanks for having me on. I'm very excited to continue to show all of the things I've been working on and how much I've grown as a fighter.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrLouis1ana ]