13 Mar - 
Jessica Eye sees weaknesses in champ Valentina Shevchenko, won't be 'a pushover' at UFC 238

Even before the fight was officially announced, many have written Jessica Eye off as someone capable of posing a true threat to UFC women’s flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko.

Eye (14-6 MMA, 4-5 UFC), however, relishes the opportunity to prove those people wrong when she challenges Shevchenko (16-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in her first UFC title bout at UFC 238 in June.

“I’m not a pushover,” Eye told MMA Junkie. “Just because I lost before and everybody once identified me with previous fights that I had. I hope she takes this extra time and really works on being a better her and being just as ready for me as I’m going to be ready for her. Because this is a real chance of two tough chicks fighting each other. This is the cream of the crop right now, and if she doesn’t take this extra time to make herself better, she’ll be surprised fight night because I’m taking all this extra time to make sure I am the best me.”

When Eye talks about the “extra time,” she means the additional four months between when the UFC originally wanted the fight with Shevchenko and when it will actually happen.

After solidifying her No. 1 contender status with a win over Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 231 in December, Eye was offered the shot against Shevchenko at UFC on ESPN+ 3, which took place Feb. 21 in Prague. She was still recovering from wear-and-tear sustained in the fight with Chookagian, and she simply wasn’t able to accept.

“I’m like, ‘I can’t take a fight. I need a couple more weeks. My mouth is not healed,'” Eye said. “What are we supposed to do? Take the fight and then get halfway through the camp and I get a mouth infection? I think people think I’m just trying to get out of it, but I’ve lost a lot of teeth over the past couple years. We’re getting punched in the mouth, our teeth are getting cracked, infections are getting in there. I can’t fight if I have a tooth infection, I can’t fight if I have loose teeth.

“I’m like, ‘Ah man, am I going to miss this chance?’ I talked to (UFC matchmaker) Mick (Maynard) and he’s like, ‘We’ll look for somebody else then.’ I’m like, ‘Aw man, please don’t. I’m not trying to miss this opportunity. I want to do this. I’m working with your medical team and they’re the ones who said I’m off for four weeks. I’m medically suspended, please don’t overlook me. I’m still working out and doing some stuff, but I can’t get hit.'”

Shevchenko, who has vowed to be an active champion, was not keen on waiting for Eye. Her manager recently told MMA Junkie that she was eager to fight as soon as possible, even if that meant taking a different opponent. She didn’t necessarily get her wish, because the fight is set for UFC 238, which goes down June 8 at United Center in Chicago and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.

With the extra time, Eye believes she’s going to be 100 percent ready for Shevchenko, who No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie MMA women’s pound-for-pound rankings behind only UFC double champ Amanda Nunes. Eye has relocated to Las Vegas ahead of the contest, and believes everything is in order for her to pull off the upset.

Eye said she has a strong understanding of what Shevchenko brings to the table, but she sees flaws in the champion and has the utmost faith in her ability to expose them.

“We all know Valentina is an incredible muay-Thai specialist,” Eye said. “We know she loves to kick, we know she loves spinning techniques. We’ve seen her grind people up against the cage, we’ve seen her on the ground, we’ve seen her finish someone on the ground. She’s very versatile in that way. She brings years of experience to it. The difference between me and her if I’ve taken my weaknesses and made them my strengths where she has just taken her strengths and tried to make them stronger and she doesn’t take what she’s not good at and make it stronger.

“One of her biggest weaknesses is her ability to adjust to the fighter she’s fighting and be able to do something different. I think being versatile and being a true martial artists wins this flyweight title and keeps me champion for a really long time.”

For more on UFC 238, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.