Jessica Eye spent most of 2017’s second half preparing for a high-profile fight against Paige VanZant at 125 pounds.
But now that fight is no longer happening, and Eye isn’t happy about it.
Eye, 31, posted a fiery video Wednesday on social media claiming that VanZant declined a rescheduled booking against her. Eye alleged that VanZant gave no reason for the decision other than saying the matchup did “nothing” for her, despite the two being previously booked for a fight on Oct. 7 at UFC 216, which only fell through due to a back injury suffered by VanZant.
Eye (11-6, 1 NC) has yet to fight in 2017 because of bad luck regarding her opponents. Her scheduled tilt against Aspen Ladd on July 7 at TUF 25 Finale was cancelled hours before the event due to Ladd falling ill. Eye subsequently booked her turnaround matchup against VanZant at UFC 216, which also failed to come to fruition.
On Wednesday, Eye said that VanZant personally contacted her both before and after her UFC 216 withdrawal to discuss the fight, and Eye opted to wait for VanZant to recover and be rebooked in early 2018 rather than take on a different opponent.
“Now I receive a phone call today that Paige VanZant, again, this time [isn’t] injured, but is refusing to fight me,” Eye said. “Now, I guess, me as a woman and as a professional, we have a legal signed document that we agreed upon, that I signed for you, and you agreed upon as a professional and as a woman, to fight me — because you’re an athlete and you’re a professional fighter, and because that’s what professional fighters do. We don’t run from each other. It doesn’t matter what you did at 115, it doesn’t matter what I did at 135. All bets are off now. It doesn’t matter, because now it’s at 125. This is a new weight class and this is a new opportunity for you to be a winner, and for me also to be a winner.
“You said that this fight does nothing for you, because I’m coming off a loss and that it’s too tough. Then why did you contact me originally? Then why did you message me? Why did you hurt the UFC and make them jump through hoops to constantly give you what you want? Constantly. It’s unfair, and I don’t care who agrees with me or not.
“This is my world and I live in it. You guys just watch it from the outside. And it’s bullsh*t. It’s absolute bullsh*t that you can pull out of a fight for no apparent reason other than you’re scared, and that’s not cool in my opinion. And it’s not what we represent here as fighters.
“Isn’t that what you’re supposed to promote as a public figure who has a blue checkmark, instead of doing just these things, Dancing with the Stars and these other things?” Eye continued. “Yes, they’re great. They’re awesome, they’re wonderful. I hope I get those opportunities too one day. But we’re fighters. We’re here to fight. We’re not here to be friends. We’re not here to be the prettiest, we’re not here to be the ugliest. We’re here to fight. And that’s what I came to the UFC to do, to fight.
“It’s bullsh*t, Paige. And I hope you hear this.”
VanZant (7-3) has lost two of her last three bouts. Her most recent outing ended with a lopsided first-round loss to Michelle Waterson via technical submission. VanZant tweeted Saturday night that her next contest would be a title shot against the inaugural winner of the UFC women’s flyweight title, however UFC officials subsequently dismissed that assertion as untrue.
Sources within VanZant’s camp confirmed to MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz on Wednesday that VanZant expects to fight next on Jan. 14 at UFC St. Louis, but not against Eye.
And for Eye, who was long considered one of the best flyweights in the world before making the move to 135 pounds to compete in the UFC, that just isn’t fair after being strung along for so long.
“Being the good girl in MMA and being the nice one doesn’t get you anywhere. It gets you like it is for me and pushes you to the side, where — my life doesn’t matter?” Eye said. “I haven’t been in the cage in 15 months, not by choice, but because of what’s happened for me. And it’s unfair. I know that I have lost, but I lost to an Olympic wrestler who was one of my friends who I never even wanted to fight to begin with, that I did because I need money and because that’s what we do for our job. I fought Miesha (Tate), who was the champ, Sarah Kaufman on four week’s notice, who was the Strikeforce champ for years.
“But what I think is absolutely shameful at this point is that you can crawl to your boss and tell them, ‘I don’t want to fight.’ I never, ever called into work sick. I never called into work and said I wasn’t coming. I never didn’t show up for a fight. I never didn’t do the things that I need to do to make myself a professional. So, I guess I don’t really know where to go from here. My next fight will be some time in late January.
“I have been just stirring with anger and frustration over all of this, because it’s hard, guys,” Eye added. “You guys only like me when I win. When I’m not winning or anything else, the money stops flowing and things start happening that — I guess really at this point, it’s time to go out on all limbs and just start being the heel, because being the nice one in this sport doesn’t get you anywhere. It actually gets you walked on and it feels like crap. So thanks, Paige. I appreciate you. I appreciate you messing with my holiday. I appreciate you lying to me, and I also appreciate not being a true woman and a true professional, and after you had said Saturday in multiple interviews that you had a contract you were getting ready to sign. If there’s anything you can learn from this, learn to be a little bit more of an adult, and stop lying to your fans and stop lying to people who follow you, and actually fight the toughest.
“Huge shoutout to Mick Maynard for all of the hard work of the UFC. Again, this isn’t the UFC’s fault. This is a Paige VanZant problem. This is what you did, Paige, and it’s extremely unfair and you should be ashamed of yourself, truly.”