Ok, this interview was from 1 1/2 weeks ago, but after positive response to my Zoila Frausto interview, I've decided to post this here as well. I'm going to try to interview all 8 women in the Bellator 115 lb tournament starting in August. Two down, six to go.
I had the opportunity to talk with Jessica Aguilar, a product of American Top Team and currently ranked as the number 7 flyweight in the world. In the past few years, she has become a very accomplished Brazillian jiu jitsu practitioner. She was recently announced as the 8th and final participant in Bellator's season 3 women's 115 lb tournament.
Brian Hemminger: How does it feel to be given an opportunity to compete with some of the best women in the world for the Bellator 115 lb title?
Jessica Aguilar: It's an honor to have this opportunity to be part of this tournament with the best in the world, I'm happy. I'm glad to have a chance to show my skills. Outside of the Cyborg vs Gina Carano fight, I think this is gonna be the biggest thing for female MMA. It's one of the best tournaments for women that has ever been put together, all top 10 contenders from all around the world. Bjorn and Bellator have done a great job.
Can you tell us a little bit about training at American Top Team?
Yeah, well it's one of the best camps in the world. They treat me very well, I have the best trainers. I'm blessed to be where I'm at, I couldn't ask for more. As a female involved in this tournament, it's very important to have such a great team. My main coaches are Marcos "Parrumphina" De Motta, a Carlson Gracie 3rd degree blackbelt, Ricardo Liborio, a national champion in jiu jitsu and Rafael Rebello, a WEC fighter. I'm in the best place, to be a part of a team like this. Jorge Santiago, Gesias Cavalcante, "Pitbull" Thiago Alves, the level of training partners and trainers, it's just a blessing.
You kind of accidentally discovered MMA, can you tell us about that?
Sure, it started in 2006, I moved to Florida in the end of 2005, I was doing some acting in Miami and I was also working in mortgages and real estate. I'd always been an athlete, and I was looking for a gym. I found this little boxing gym that was close to my apartment, and I'd go there after work, the cardio conditioning classes and stuff. One day I got off work late and the only class being given was what I thought was a wrestling class, but it was Brazilian jiu jitsu. I really liked it, and my instructor asked me if I wanted to compete and I kept training, trained for a month and I won my first competition, gi and no-gi. Now I'm like, I was training, I feel good and I'm really enjoying it. So I continued training, I went on to my second competition, it was an American Top Team competition and I went but there were no females or males in my weight class to compete against, but I stayed to watch the matches.
At that time, there was this big fight event. Erica Montoya was supposed to fight Lisa Ward and they couldn't find her anywhere. They pulled me aside and and asked me about my MMA background. I didn't know what it was yet, I had no combat training, so I told them the only real training I'd had was fighting with my brothers. I was raised with all these brothers, being the only girl in my family. I'd only been trained for a month and a half, but he asked me if I wanted to fight. I thought it was like the tournaments from earlier so asked him when I had to pay him, and he laughed and said "no, I pay you." I was confused, and he explained it to me. I didn't know what I was getting into yet, all I knew was that I was fighting another girl in my weight class. I didn't know too much about Lisa (Ward) or that she was a top fighter in the world at the time. So I took the fight with 5 days preparation. That was a joke, now, knowing what it takes to prepare, those 5 days are supposed to be your rest days. So anyways, I went to fight her and it became the fight of the night. I went all the rounds with her and she had me in this rear naked choke. She had me in it for like 2 minutes and with like 3 seconds left in the clock, I got submitted. All the ATT guys saw me and that's how I met them.
The guys from AFC (Absolute Fighting Championships) were calling me at the gym where I was training at the time and wanted me to be on their show. I sat down and thought about what I wanted to do with the sport, and my friend told me that if I really wanted to do this I had to train at the top place. She took me over to ATT, which was like 3o minutes from where I lived, like March of 2006, introduced me to my trainer and I've been with them ever since. So here I am today, still learning a lot, I'm still growing and evolving, and now I've got this great opportunity in front of me. This sport has taken me around the world, and I've met a lot of great people on this journey. I can't wait to see what happens next, especially with this incredible tournament.
On average, how much time each day do you usually spend working on your jiu-jitsu?
Well, you know with ATT, what they're known for is their ground game. I train in the morning and I train in the evening and I also teach the kid's class at ATT. I spend about 3 hours a day training the ground I'd say.
Bellator tournaments are a pretty intense experience, do you feel you're prepared to fight every 4 weeks?
Absolutely I'm prepared, yes sir. They're putting my schedule together, I'm preparing my body for that. It's a science really, you have to be ready, how you're gonna rest, how you're gonna push yourself. I've got the best coaches in the world and I'm just putting it in their hands.
You won the 2010 World Grappling Championships in the gi and no-gi divisions, do you feel you have the advantage over everyone else in this tournament if the fight goes to the ground?
No, no way. We've got some great competitors. I actually feel like I'm one of the least experienced. Megumi is a black belt in jiu jitsu, Angela Magana has great skills on the ground, same goes for Jessica Pene. I'm comfortable there, that's my home, but I know that I have good competition there. It's gonna be a challenge and I'm ready.
In this tournament, there's a possibility to avenge your first career loss to Lisa Ward, is there anyone in the field that you are specifically excited about facing?
I'd love to have that revenge with Ward, I'd love that fight, get my win, give her the loss back. I'm also excited about Megumi, I'm a big fan of hers since I started and found out who she was. Obviously that's my goal, but I'm really excited about whoever they put me against.
Bellator has been showcasing some of the female fighters who are invited to the tournament in recent weeks. Have you had a chance to watch them?
Actually, no, but I have them all recorded. I haven't been able to watch the fights but that's something I will definitely do this week. I heard a lot about Zoila Frausto and Rosie Sexton last week. Anything can happen in MMA, and you have to be prepared. If Sexton won't be able to participate in the tournament, I'll be very disappointed, she is one of the best in the world.
We've all at one time or another kept things from our parents, have you finally broken the news to your mother that you're a cage fighter?
No, no, no I can't do that yet. I'll do it when the right time comes. I don't know how big my family thinks it is. My brother knows that I train with a gym, I don't know what they think but they don't know the real story.
Thank you very much for the interview, do you have any shoutouts or anyone you'd like to thank?
I'd like to thank all my fans, all my teammates at American Top Team for molding me to be the fighter I am today, all the sponsors that have helped me along the way. I'd also like to thank my supporters and lastly Bjorn Rebney for giving me this tremendous opportunity.