The field of contenders for Ronda Rousey’s UFC women’s bantamweight championship is running dry.
Outside unlikely scenarios such as Cristiane Justino cutting to 135 pounds or a return to the sport by Gina Carano, UFC officials seem to be in a situation in which they’re choosing between contenders Bethe Correia (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Jessica Eye (11-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) – or giving an immediate rematch to Cat Zingano (9-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC). Zingano just lost to Rousey (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in 14 seconds, leaving the possibility of a new contender as a more appealing option in the eyes of many.
For Eye, the choice is clear, as she explained in a recent interview.
“I know that I’m going to get the fight over Bethe with Ronda Rousey,” Eye said. “I think that the UFC is much smarter than the average fan, or much more smarter than Bethe. Not to insult her by any means, but she hasn’t earned it. Just because you fought her teammates and you made her mad personally doesn’t necessarily mean you get the fight. I think she’s smart.
“She’s doing like what Ronda did. She’s doing like what Ronda did to Miesha to get her shot and to get her title right away in this sport, and I don’t blame her. But, listen: There’s a much more skillful person, and that’s me.”
Eye is coming off a TKO victory over Leslie Smith at UFC 180, a victory that represents her first official win inside the octagon. Eye took a split decision over Sarah Kaufman in her UFC debut, but the result was overturned when Eye failed a drug test due to marijuana metabolites. She dropped a split decision to Alexis Davis at UFC 170 in her next fight.
Despite her mixed success, Eye believes she has a gameplan that will throw off Rousey and allow her to take the belt.
“Ronda’s an interesting person because she strives on chaos,” Eye said. “She’s an interesting person in that way. And, that’s how she won in judo, and understanding that judo is only two-minute rounds. She likes the fast pace. I’m curious to see someone slow down the fight for her and move and kind of take a different kind of fight to her.
“It was actually in a meme the other day. It was like, ‘Ronda Rousey seven title defenses, this many minutes.” I think when we broke mine down I had over 300 hours in the cage, under the lights between decisions. So, I feel like my experience comes with me. And especially in this last year, I’m more comfortable in the UFC. They bring me to shows, and I feel like I found my own there. I don’t feel a weird tingle anymore.”
One of the more impressive things Rousey has managed to do in the sport is convince some observers she could contend in the men’s bantamweight division, along with managing to crack into many different pound-for-pound rankings.
However, Eye isn’t on board with ranking women in a pound-for-pound ranking list that includes their male counterparts.
“No, I am 100 percent sold on the fact that this sport – as a female, I don’t ever want to try to do it without the men,” Eye said. “I don’t ever want the men to feel like we’re in competition with them. I feel like it’s kind of a hard situation when you ask those pound-for-pounds. I don’t think the women should be in the pound-for-pound. I really don’t. I think we should be in our own division for pound-for-pound.”
Eye expanded on that further when asked if she buys into the talk that Rousey could beat 135-pound men – or if Eye, herself, would be able to compete in the men’s bantamweight division.
“I can train with them and compete with them,” Eye said. “But, no, man. They’re men. Come on. Let’s not screw up what we know already. Men have testosterone. I go with these 125ers, and these guys are fast. And, if they really wanted to put it on me, they would put it on us. I think that they are kind of losing sight of what we already know. They’re men. They have testosterone. We’re women. We have estrogen. There’s that difference. If the guys want to put it on us and beat us up, they can. I mean, come on now. Who we kidding?”
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.