Jessica Eye came into her UFC debut on Saturday with a good deal of hype.
At UFC 166, the Cleveland-based fighter proved herself legit, winning a split decision over former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman in a tightly contested fight at Houston's Toyota Center.
All the judges scored the bout 29-28, with two of the scores going Eye's way.
Eye (11-1) was a step faster than Kaufman in the opening round, darting in and out and landing more frequently than her Canadian foe.
While most considered Eye the clear-cut winner in the opening round, Kaufman picked up the pace in the second stanza, which was the round which made the difference on the scorecards. Eye continued to dart in and out, and managed to leave Kaufman with swelling under her left eye. But Kaufman landed the bigger shots and did more damage over the course of the round.
The third round was the best of the fight for Kaufman (16-3), who who stung Eye with a big right hand and had her on the run for much of the round. But in in the eyes of two judges, it was too little, too late.
Eye, who previously fought at flyweight, won her eighth straight fight. Kaufman has dropped two of her past three.