During an Oct. 6 interview with WMMA Jam Live, Jessica Eye, the No. 9-ranked pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world, said she is embracing the underdog role for her upcoming UFC fight against Sarah Kaufman.
The fighter, who had been ripped by uninformed fanboys on MMA forums as "undersized for a 135-pounder" and "not capable of moving up to bantamweight," plans to melt her critics' pens with a standout performance in her promotional debut for Zuffa.
"After I fought my Ring of Combat fight, [Zuffa] wanted me to fight Jan Finney in Strikeforce. And yet again we wanted to identify ourselves with 125," Eye told show host Stacey Lynn during her appearance on Episode 3 of WMMA Jam Live. "I mean I guess I did want to identify myself with 25. People don't think I'm capable of moving up to 35, which is, you know 'hey it's alright.' I don't mind being looked at as the underdog.
"I think that everyone has me so identified with the fact that I have fought at 125 that they just can't imagine me anywhere else. And yet again, you know, if you've never met me in person, most people are going to think 'she must be petite or whatever.' I like to think I'm big. I like to think I'm bigger for my size. I like to think I'm a built female. I like to think I'm just as big as Ronda [Rousey] and maybe bigger than Miesha Tate and some of these girls. I think I'm right there with them."
Eye, who signed with the UFC on Aug. 20, will move up to the bantamweight division for her debut against Kaufman at UFC 166 on Oct. 19 in Houston, Texas.
Both women are primarily known for their striking, but Eye says she wouldn't mind showing off the rest of her skillset.
"I'm going to say stylistically we both match up rather good considering that both of our styles technically are striking and people have always striked with us," Eye said of Kaufman. "I feel like more people think she doesn't have a wrestling game or know how to grapple because it's just easy for her to strike. People have just seen us strike, they haven't seen us go other ways.
"It's like people saying I don't have a ground game, and just because I lost to Aisling Daly in a very fluke freakin' rear-naked choke. I mean I think it could go both ways. We both are strikers, we both want to come out striking, but I feel like we both also want people to see that we have something else besides just being strikers.
"So I think stylistically we both are great."