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Jessica Eye's story can help raise awareness for cyberbullying prevention

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According to a Feb. 8 report from Bloody Elbow, hard-hitting UFC bantamweight contender Jessica "Evil" Eye deleted her Twitter account after a popular MMA website speculated that her UFC 166 blood test failure was for marijuana use and not blood-thinning medication as had been previously reported.

After the report came out, the 27-year-old Eye was bombarded on Twitter with dozens of hateful comments, with everything from UFC fans calling her a cheater and drug user, to reporters ripping for failing a drug test prior to a fight.

The Ohio native tried to take it all in stride, but she finally decided she had enough and deleted her Twitter account on the evening of Feb. 7.

Unfortunately, Eye's case is nothing new.

Over the past few months, several high-profile stars in women's MMA deleted their Twitter profiles after being harassed by bullies on the popular social media networking site.

Last summer, Kansas fighter Rachel Wray deleted both her Twitter and Facebook accounts after she was tormented by fight fans on social media.

The former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader was harassed after badly missing weight for a fight she was scheduled for.

Wray, perhaps the most beautiful woman in MMA, was called "fat" and "overweight" by random strangers on the Internet, and it proved too much for her.

She deleted her profiles and hasn't been seen or heard from ever since in the fight community.

Wray hasn't fought since March of last year, and she is now completely out of the public eye. No one knows if she'll ever return to fighting.

Social media bullying also got to Texas striker Jordan Nicole Gaza, who briefly deleted her Twitter account last year after receiving dozens of vicious verbal jabs from fight fans.

Much like Wray, Gaza's case had to do with missing weight and backing out of fights. That gave social media bullies plenty of ammunition to fire verbal jabs at her, and they had a field day with it.

Luckily, Gaza was able to shrug it off and return to the Twitter world after a month break.

In another case of social media bullying, Felice "Lil' Bulldog" Herrig was trashed so bad by fight fans following her Invicta FC 7 loss to Tecia Torres that she announced she would be taking a break from Twitter for a little while.

Thankfully, she too was able to keep her chin high and return to Twitter after a short break.

Analysis: Bullying these days isn't what it used to be. In the past, victims could try to avoid their harassers by taking a different route home. These days, with the growing popularity of the Internet and social media, there is no escape.

It might sound ridiculous, but fighters are especially susceptible to social media bullying. Any time a fighter misses weight or backs out of a fight for any reason, the haters are sure to come out in full force on Twitter.

Additionally, it's fairly common for fighters to hear it from thousands of fans on Twitter after a bad performance inside the cage.

“That’s every single day on my Twitter,” said UFC women’s bantamweight contender Miesha Tate. “Literally, every day. They don’t teach you how to deal with that. The UFC encourages you to be active on social media and have a Twitter and all that, but they don’t really tell you how to deal with dummies.”

Tate offered perhaps the best response for dealing with social media bullying. She doesn't let the opinions of random strangers bother her because chances are, the people who are criticizing her for no good reason are the ones that have boring, sad lives.

“People who go out of their way to look you up so they can tell you they hate you, even though they’ve never even met you, chances are they probably don’t have an awesome life,” Tate said. “The normal, functioning people, they probably don’t spend their whole lives on Twitter telling people they don’t know that they don’t like them. The normal, successful fans of yours are probably at work right now.”

What can be done to help UFC fighters deal with cyber-bullying? Let us know in the comments or tweet the author, @EricHolden.

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