The top strawweight in women's MMA is fighting this week, but if you aren't tuned in to everything WMMA, you might never know it. This Thursday Jessica Aguilar takes on Patricia Vidonic in a rematch at Bellator 94. Aguilar is coming off a ten-month layoff following the biggest victory of her career, a three round unanimous decision over Megumi Fujii at Bellator 69.
While she's uniformly considered the no. 1 women's strawweight fighter in the world (that's 115 lbs. in lay-terms), she's flying way under the radar on Bellator's web-streaming prelims. And without a 115 lb tournament in Bellator's immediate plans, who knows what the future holds.
So I wanted to cast a little light into the darkness and hear what she had to say about fighting Patricia again, being ranked no. 1, and talking about what she hopes to do in the future. Now, on to the questions!
Do you feel the need to make a statement that you're still the no.1 flyweight in the world?
My statement will be the fight, my actions speak for what I am or who I am.
Do you expect a different fight than last time?
Well yeah she’s been active more, you know she’s had a few more fights than I have and I’m sure she’s more comfortable now and will bring new challenges to me.
Do you have the option to fight with anyone other than Bellator?
I do have different options but they haven’t presented them to me. I am allowed to fight for other organizations, the only thing is I haven’t had any opportunities. That’s why I haven’t taken any, there has been nothing for me to take.
Do you feel maybe that those opportunites haven’t presented because Bellator has flexed their iron muscle a little bit with Eddie Alvarez and people don’t know those opportunities are available?
That’s a possibility, but just because that happens doesn’t mean it’s going to happen with every fighter, but that could be a possibility.
Without a Strawweight tournament, do you expect to be busier this year?
I hope to be, yes I hope to be. An athlete hopes to stay busy. I hope to be busy after this fight, continue staying busy and doing what I love to do.
That’s gotta’ be hard on you because you’ve gone quite a while without a fight. I can imagine the financial strain on you.
Yeah, that’s right. It’s like someone not having a job, getting laid off from a job and not having work for ten months, it’s been a little frustrating. But it’s like everything, it’s life, diversity, you go through your ups and downs and you gotta keep pushing forward. But in times like these, you appreciate it more. I’m excited about tonight.
When you were off for this period of time did you get any help from your sponsors?
For me, I haven’t had the luxury or the luck to get one of these sponsorships. I didn’t have any sponsorship help. However my management, Paradigm, supported me and helped me out, loaned me some money. So I owe them, and I had to get back going to work, so I was working for six months.
With the financial stability an external job provides, how long do you think you’ll have to keep working?
Leading up to this fight I certainly quit my job, because I can’t do the full time… I can’t put a hundred percent to my job and a hundred percent into training without getting injuries or just getting the proper rest and everything else. I didn’t see myself being a salesperson for a longtime, so I decided to quit. I think I’m not finished here yet, I think I have a few years left and just hope to continue staying busy.
Did you recently sign with Paradigm, or have you been with them for a while?
They’re awesome. I just signed with them after the Megumi fight last year in July, They’ve been pushing hard, helping, trying to get a bite. But, I guess it’s been hard, it’s been difficult. I’ve had them since July of last year.
What's the biggest change in your game planning since your last fight?
I think, there’s not too much change. Just every time I go to training I learn something new. There’s really not going to be a change, just an improvement. Obviously my focus is on the ground, so that’s my main thing.
How much of your game plan is geared towards your opponent’s style as opposed to just training for your style?
Yeah, that’s how I train. Just focusing on my style, making sure my conditioning and everything is up to par. My coaches look at video and then decide the game plan, but I focus on my style of fighting and training.
Are you worried about losing your contacts again?
No no no, im not worried about that. I’m not worried I have an extra pair waiting.
Do you see similarities between bullying, and the treatment you get as a woman in MMA?
They go hand and hand. It builds your character. What can you do, if you don’t have control over it? You just have to keep smiling and do what you do whether they like it or not or accept what you’re doing or not.
Do you feel the need for a universal ranking system that maybe the media controls, similar to the UFC, so that you can get your props in and ability to grab bigger paydays?
I don’t know too much about the rankings and stuff like that. But yeah of course, if that would make a difference and help not only myself but other girls out in the rankings and help their paydays. Of course that would be nice to have a different ranking systems.
Does being the no. 1 fighter in the world mean more than a championship belt?
For me yeah, because I’ve challenged the best in the world. And she was the best for several years, she’s still my idol. She’s like a Fedor, Megumi. So I’ve challenged the best and I want to continue challenging the best. It’s nice to have a belt, but a ranking is more important than a belt.
You talked about retiring soon, are you satisfied with you MMA career?
I’m totally satisfied with my MMA career. I mean, it’s been a great journey. It’s like everything, it has it’s good and it’s bad but I’ve enjoyed every second of it.
Who's the next big WMMA star?
Right now it’s Ronda… But the next big star, you got me on that one. I don’t know. There’s just so much new talent that’s coming and they’re all well rounded and they’re all good. The divisions are getting full…
The girl that actually just came to mind, I think it was Carla Esparza’s last opponent for the title. Bec Hyatt. She’s great, has great personality, great attitude. She just gave her a run for her money, it was a great fight. She went all five rounds and gave her a great fight. So, I think that’s an up and coming star.
What’s going through your mind right now as you’re getting your hair done? What goes through your mind on fight day?
I’m focused, I’m actually visualizing what’s going to happen and just kind of transforming my mindset. I’m focused and ready for the fight. I know I’ve done everything, I know I’ve trained hard. Everything is good, it’s just easy from here on. I’m just focused right now.