Jessica Eye faces off against Valentina Shevchenko in a Women’s Flyweight Title bout this weekend. It is expected that Shevchenko will win with the oddsmakers odds reflecting this, pricing her at the time of writing as 1/14 to win and Eye at 8/1. Those odds are massive, however Eye has always been an underdog for most of her UFC career and has quite the remarkable story.
Eye first graced the confines of the octagon in 2013, diving into the Rousey-era Bantamweight division, in her promotional debut she fought to a draw with Sarah Kaufman (later overturned to a NC) She then returned in 2014, losing to Alexis Davis at UFC 170 and then winning against Leslie Smith at UFC 180. In 2015-16 she fought four times losing all four fights by decisions. In 2017 she was scheduled to fight in the Flyweight division on multiple occasions, yet her scheduled bouts with Aspen Ladd and Paige VanZant were later cancelled. It was not until 2018 that she got her Flyweight debut. On January 14th at UFC Fight Night 124 she won a split decision against Kalindra Faria. Six months later she was back to scrapping, taking on Jessica-Rose Clark and again winning a decision. Her final fight of 2018 came in December against Katlyn Chookagian, the same night that Shevchenko beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk and became the Flyweight Queen. She was the underdog for those three fights and won all three of them.
This takes her up to her fight with the Flyweight Queen; Valentina Shevchenko. Many people believe that she doesn’t deserves a chance to get in there with Valentina. I however believe she does. Eye is the number 1 contender. Since the previous number 1 contender (Jonna) lost it is only right that the next in line gets a title shot. There is more to it than that though. Jessica Eye has had a terrible time as a UFC fighter. Going on the losing streak, dealing with injuries (blood clot), cancelled fights and the death of her father. That is more than enough problems to deal with, and a lot of other people would have thrown in the towel. Jessica Eye did not. She showed the world that she is a warrior. She worked her arse off, changed camp and built up a win streak, earned a title fight and has shown that she is one of the best Flyweights in the world.
The question is whether she will cause one of the biggest upsets in the sport and defeat Shevchenko. In MMA upsets do happen; Ronda Rousey was a 3/50 favourite against Holly Holm at UFC 193 and ended up getting humiliated. While it may not seem likely that she will win, I will be hoping she does. I admire her grit and determination to continue fighting. Having been knocked down continuously she continues to rise. She deserves the Flyweight crown. Everyone loves an underdog and everyone loves a feel good story and nothing is better than that of Jessica Eye, a woman who faced battles inside and outside the octagon becoming the Flyweight Queen – proving to everyone that although you may be an underdog your full life you can achieve something if you set your mind on it and work your arse off.