In preparation for the biggest fight of her professional career, UFC flyweight Jessica Eye made a major change.
The 32-year-old left her longtime gym at Strong Style Training Center in Cleveland to train at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Eye believes the change in scenery will pay dividends when she battles flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 238.
“It’s been an incredible adjustment for me,” Eye told theScore. “I’ve never moved in my life and (did so) before the biggest fight of my life. I started working with new coaches and a new facility. Before I was living with my best friend, who was a girl, now I’m living with guys. It’s been completely different and life-changing. I love it, I guess sometimes you don’t know how good change is until you do it. Now I’m starting to realize that.”
Eye (14-6) has experienced a career resurgence after losing five of her six bouts in the bantamweight division. She’s yet to lose a fight since dropping down to the 125-pound weight class in January 2018. Most notably, she defeated Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 231 in December to secure this title shot.
In July 2017, Eye was scheduled to face Aspen Ladd at “The Ultimate Fighter 25” finale before an illness to her opponent resulted in the fight being canceled. Eye trained in Las Vegas for the last week of that camp and it was the previous connection which led her to become a full-time member of Xtreme Couture.
“(Xtreme Couture head coach) Eric Nicksick and Gray Maynard, those were the main reasons (I joined the team),” Eye said. “I (also) knew there were girls training there, Gina Mazany, Jessica-Rose Clark, Emily Whitmire, and other girls there I can train with. … When I had originally fought against Aspen Ladd, I trained that week at the gym. I got close with the guys. Gray was a blessing in disguise, I didn’t really know (him). I just reached out to him once I got there. I was like, ‘Please coach me, I think you’re great. You’re really awesome and I think your style could really make me better.’ He ended up saying yes to the job and he’s been an absolute blessing so far.”
Shevchenko (16-3) captured the vacant flyweight title at UFC 231 by defeating former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk by decision. “Bullet” has gone 5-2 in the Octagon, with her only losses being decision setbacks against two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko is currently the biggeston the card. However, Eye is more focussed on herself rather than what the 125-pound champion can bring to the table.
“I think the game plan is simple. There is no hiding anything in this sport. Of course, Valentina is a great kickboxer, she’s got great spinning techniques. How do you neutralize that? You wrestle like crazy. And who do you go to for that? Gray Maynard, “The Bully,” it’s the best way to do it.”
UFC 238 takes place June 8 at The United Center in Chicago. The main event pits flyweight champion Henry Cejudo against Marlon Moraes for the vacant 135-pound title.
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