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Jessica Eye pays no attention to ‘haters’ who don’t like her main event fight against Cynthia Calvillo

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Some might call it thick skin. Jessica Eye just calls it ignoring trolls.

In the days following the announcement that Eye will headline UFC on ESPN 10 against Cynthia Calvillo this weekend, the former flyweight title contender was bombarded with remarks from fans who didn’t like the fight as the main event.

There were comments like “worst headliner of all time” and “I bet the arena would look the same if you tried to sell fans tickets.”

Now negativity and social media seem to go hand-in-hand but Eye has learned that putting any weight behind what people say behind a screen name on Twitter just isn’t worth her time.

“I’ve grown after the Valentina fight, after the knockout, I just don’t respond to haters like that,” Eye explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I usually like their post. They’re usually like ‘holy sh*t she liked my post.’ So I’ve seen it and I respond with something or sometimes I don’t. It doesn’t really affect me. Until you’re physically in front of me saying that, it’s just not real to me.

“Unless I know you, you’re just not real to me. If there’s not an established relationship, you just don’t register to me that you’re real so I really don’t care. It’s my life. You get to watch my life out of pure entertainment. You don’t get to dictate what I do with it. You get to sit back and watch and let us do what we’re good at and fight and you do what you’re good at, and that’s being a spectator.”

The way Eye sees it, this was a huge opportunity for her to shine under the brightest spotlight possible at a time when the women’s flyweight division hasn’t received a ton of attention outside of championship fights involving Valentina Shevchenko.

“If you get offered a short notice main event fight, there’s no question,” Eye said. “I mean I wanted to make sure with my team cause I don’t do this alone but I wanted to do it instantly. The opponent didn’t even register with me. I’m like main event, pandemic, what a better time to fight in the sense of having no crowd with a main event. It’s just like sparring at the gym for the night.”

Calvillo will be a newcomer at 125 pounds after starting her UFC career as a strawweight. While she’s not ranked at flyweight, Eye didn’t really care about the opponent she was facing as much as the chance to compete in her first UFC main event.

“I didn’t look at it for the rankings,” Eye said. “I looked at it like purely as main event, an opportunity to fight, and any kind of experience under the cage lights is going to make me better. Cynthia is a really good fighter. She’s game. I like gamer chicks. I feel like we have similar qualities.”

If she’s victorious on Saturday night, Eye would move to 2-0 since falling to Shevchenko in dramatic fashion back in 2019. In her first attempt to win UFC gold, Eye suffered a brutal second-round knockout when Shevchenko finished the fight with a highlight-reel head kick.

Despite that setback, Eye is still ranked No. 1 at flyweight but she knows there’s work to be done if she wants to eventually get back to another shot at Shevchenko and the title.

“I’m just so used to hard work and believing in myself that I think this is just another chance to level up in my life and a part of my journey,” Eye said. “I’m ready to take this on. I’m ready fight whoever I have to fight. I’m ready to train however I have to train. I’m ready to make whatever type of adjustments. I think that’s something I’ve been able to do.

“It definitely happened after the Viviane [Araujo] fight and weight cut. Obviously, I don’t ever want to do that again. It’s not a habit that I keep showcasing all the time. The fact that people focus on one negative thing, that’s just life. I’m not going to focus on it.”

Eye also refuses to dwell too much on the past, which is why this fight like every other is a fresh start for her to prove what she’s learned since her last outing.

Eventually, Eye believes it will come down to a rematch with Shevchenko as the two best flyweights in the world face off again. It may not be her next fight or even the one after that but Eye is happy to knock off every contender thrown in her path until the champion is the last woman standing.

“I believe wholeheartedly that’s how things will go,” Eye said. “There are steps that we have to re-take. I know people will focus on the knockout but I wasn’t getting beat up. Sometimes people get hit in the right spot and that’s just it. Lights out. I can’t hold that to where someone is that much better than me, especially when we’re in the hurt business. I know that it was just one good shot. It wasn’t where someone was beating me up and I went through a five round war and I wasn’t as good or on the same skill level.

“I’m going to learn from it and move on and make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I don’t care what it takes. I’m OK with whatever it takes to get back there. This is a way for me to showcase that I truly deserve it.”

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