(Photo via Keith Mills/Sherdog)
By Elias Cepeda
In case you hadn’t noticed, Jessica Eye has been a Bellator fighter for the past couple years. The flyweight/bantamweight had been signed to the organization since 2011 but, like other women on the roster, she had trouble getting fights with regularity.
Between Bellator appearances, Eye stayed busy by taking fights for the Ohio-based NAAFS league. But Eye knew that her time in Bellator was drawing to a close even before the promotion recently informed her that they were about to release her and all of their roster’s female fighters.
“I’m a smart woman so I knew something was up,” she chuckles.
“It was getting to the point where, if they didn’t get me my last fight in June, they would have soon been in breach of contract.”
Eye nonetheless managed to take on and beat marquee names such as Zoila Frausta Gurgel and Carina Damm (who botched a drug test moments before their fight), compiling a 10-1 record and seven-fight win streak since her pro debut in June 2010. At worst, Eye’s release from Bellator was bittersweet.
The MMA world was not at all surprised when the UFC quickly signed her to their bantamweight division and booked her against Sarah Kaufman, October 19th at UFC 166. The Cleveland fighter, however, never took the signing for granted.
“I’m 27 years old and that’s old enough to have learned that you shouldn’t assume anything,” Eye explains. “But I did have confidence that I had done enough in MMA that people had learned about me and that I would get picked up by the UFC.”