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Jessica Eye feels like she’s the ‘people’s champ’ going into fight against Valentina Shevchenko

Jessica Eye Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Throughout the course of her UFC career, Jessica Eye has learned to embrace the role of being the underdog.

As an undersized bantamweight, Eye managed to hold her own against many of the top fighters in the world at 135 pounds but she knew that division was never meant to be her home.

Now that she’s fighting at flyweight, Eye has rattled off three straight wins in a row to earn a shot at champion Valentina Shevchenko in the UFC 238 co-main event this weekend in Chicago.

Prior to moving to the UFC, Eye amassed an impressive 10-1 record with most of her fights taking place at 125 pounds but she’s still had to prove to the world that she’s a legitimate threat to the championship.

In fact, Shevchenko will be around a 13-to-1 favorite going into the fight, which makes Eye one of the most sizable underdogs in UFC championship history — and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’ve kind of got that real life ‘Rocky’ story,” Eye said when speaking to MMAFighting. “People want to see me do something really spectacular so that feels really good but yeah, this is life changing for me. This is something that I’ve always wanted. I feel like I’ve kind of always been the people’s champ. I feel like the people want to see this happen.

“It’s one for the people who didn’t give up. It’s almost one for the people who turned their lives around and it’s an inspiring story where even if I take a couple of losses in my career, with the right attitude and the right people and the right lane, I can turn my life around. I think I’ve showed that you can do that.”

It’s hard to argue against the logic that Shevchenko doesn’t deserve the kind of praise she’s received since making the move down to 125 pounds.

She decimated an outmatched Priscila Cachoeira in her debut and then dominated former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk last December to claim the flyweight title. Prior to moving down in weight, Shevchenko was the top contender at 135 pounds with a win over former champion Holly Holm and a pair of razor-close fights against reigning champion Amanda Nunes, who is arguably the greatest women’s fighter of all time.

Because of her resume and past performances, Shevchenko is held in very high regard and seen as nearly untouchable in regards to any contenders currently competing in the flyweight division.

Eye has definitely taken notice of that aura of invincibility surrounding Shevchenko and in many ways it’s allowed her to prepare freely without any expectation of what will happen at UFC 238.

“I think that a lot of people are giving her that. It’s going to be one of those things where it takes a lot of pressure off of me,” Eye said. “It takes all of the pressure off me doing anything wrong or right because everybody already thinks that I’m not going to do it and she’s capable of so much more than me. I don’t have that much pressure.”

In many ways, Eye feels like Shevchenko might be believing her own hype heading into UFC 238, which has given her even more confidence that she will walk away with the win and the flyweight title wrapped around her waist.

Truth be told, Eye feels like she actually has a better skill set overall than Shevchenko and she looks forward to showing that on Saturday night.

“I think she’s taking me very lightly and that’s she’s not practicing some of the things that I’m really good at and she’s only practicing things she’s good at,” Eye stated. “She keeps practicing Muay Thai up to this fight and if she thinks that’s going to stop my wrestling, the worst thing she can do is throw those spinning kicks and kicks because I’m just going to take her back and I’m going to take her down

“I think I have more abilities to do more levels of martial arts and it’s boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, I think I have more of that than she does and I’m able to use it.”

For all the talk about Shevchenko and the odds, this fight really comes down to one thing for the 32-year old Ohio native and that’s accomplishing her lifelong dream of becoming UFC champion.

“I want this because I want it for me. I want it financially. I want it for all the opportunity that comes with it. I want the power,” Eye stated.

“It’s everything I could ever ask for and I just really believe in my heart that this is the time.”

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