Jessica Aguilar is nearly universally recognized as the top female strawweight fighter in MMA. In six years, she has compiled a record of 14-4, and is currently riding a 9-1 record in her last ten fights. Aguilar returns from a ten-month layoff at Bellator 94 in a rematch against Patricia Vidonic, which will air live on Spike TV on March 28th from Tampa, F.L. at the USF Sun Dome. In this interview, we talk about her history in the sport, the biggest personal win of her career, and potential superfights, among other topics.
Can you tell us what got you into MMA?
I moved out to South Florida in December of 2005, and I started working out of a boxing gym called Punch Fitness. I met some people there that were involved in the sport of mixed martial arts, I took a class of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and competed after a month at a NAGA (North American Grappling Association) tournament. I have always been an athlete, which is why I loved the gym so much, and with a month of training I took first place in gi and no-gi. I liked it, got hooked on it, and continued training.
A month later, I went on to compete in my next tournament. It was put together by American Top Team, who at the time owned the AFC (Absolute Fighting Championship), which was the largest MMA promotion in South Florida. I couldn’t compete that day [in BJJ], because there was no girls for me to compete against. I asked to compete with guys, and there was no guys for me to compete against either. So, AFC was the following Saturday, and they had Lisa Ward and Erica Montoya scheduled to compete. For some reason they could not find Erica Montoya, and I happened to be in the 115-pound (strawweight) weight class, so they offered me the fight.
I didn’t know what MMA was at the time. That was going to be my second grappling tournament, and so I was used to paying a registration fee. I didn’t even know they paid me until they told me, and I asked a few more questions after that. LisaWard was my first fight in February of 2006, which I trained five days for. I lost, but it became fight of the night. It gave me my first taste of MMA, and after that other promotions started contacting the gym. I decided to take it to the next level and started to train properly. One of my best friends took me to American Top Team, introduced me to the guys over there, and here I am today. It has been a crazy, awesome journey.
Coming up you have a rematch with Patricia Vidonic from February of last year. You had won convincingly, but do you think a year will change anything for the fight?
A whole year of training and building her skills can change a lot of things. So, I am sure she has been training hard, she is an awesome person, and [the year off] can change what I expect to be an exciting fight at Bellator 94 on March 28th.
You have not fought since May of last year. Was that due to injury or was it just time off?
It has just been time off. For one reason or another, fights for different promotions have not happened. This is my first fight since May of last year, and I am just happy that Patricia and I will be fighting live on Spike TV for millions of fans on March 28th.
With your time off did you focus on any specific aspects of your game?
The thing about me is I do not focus on any one aspect, but instead try to improve in all aspects of the game. MMA keeps changing, there is always things to learn, and you can never learn everything. Whether it is BJJ, wrestling drills, or standup, you just keep training and learning. I’ve been working on conditioning, and doing physical therapy for existing injuries. I like to just continue evolving in all aspects of the game instead of just focusing on one.
Considering the fight with Vidonic will be in Tampa, Florida, which is only a couple hours from where you train, and you have fought in the state 14 times, do you almost view it as your second home?
Florida has been my home since I started [MMA], and I love to fight here. The fan base here is very supportive. So, this is like my home, and I am excited to be fighting for my fans on March 28th.
You are the only person ever to win an unanimous decision over Megumi Fujii, who is arguably one of the best female fighters of all time. Is that your biggest win personally in your career?
Absolutely, that was the fight I always wanted. She has always been a legend and a role model to me, and she still is. That’s somebody that when I started fighting in MMA, I looked up to and wanted to be like. Just to have the opportunity to fight her and get that win was an amazing moment, and the biggest fight of my life.
There were talks last year of another female tournament in Bellator. Do you know if there will be another tournament happening soon?
There is nothing confirmed yet. Bellator has been going through some changes, but they have been doing a great job keeping everyone busy with fights. So, I do not have any information on that right now, but if it does happen I will let everyone know.
You are ranked number one at strawweight, and Jessica Eye, who also fights for Bellator, is ranked in the top at flyweight. Would there ever be a possibility of a superfight between you two?
That would be a good fight if it is offered to me, and if the fans want to see it that could be a possible matchup. First, I have to get past Patricia on March 28th at Bellator 94.
I know you have fought outside of the Bellator promotion before. Does your contract have that flexibility?
Yes, they have been really good to me trying to keep me busy and allowing me to fight for other organizations. They do have to approve of the fights outside of their organization, but I have not had a problem with that yet.
With you being ranked number one at 115, and most of the other top strawweight fighters competing in Invicta FC, would you ever want to compete for Invicta?
I would love to be a part of Invicta. My home is Bellator, but I would love to be a part of the other organization as well. Shannon and Janet are doing a great job in giving the ladies a cage of their own.
One of the hot button issues in Women’s MMA is transgendered fighters. Fallon Fox was formally a male that had gender reassignment surgery to become a female, and now she competes as a female mixed martial artist. What are your thoughts on the prospect of facing someone that was a man for an extensive period of their life, but with hormone therapy is now legally a woman?
Well, each state has a commission with different rules. I do not know those rules, but it should be equal opportunity. As long as she goes to the doctors, and her hormone levels are equal with a woman of her age should be, then it should be fine. It is completely up to the doctors and the commission, and I support it as long as it is okayed by them.
Is there any one person you would like to rematch from your career?
I just want to fight the best. If someone wants a rematch [with me] I would not be opposed to it. As of right now, I am just focused of Patricia.
Can you give us any predictions on your upcoming fight?
I want to take it to the ground as quick as possible.
Is there any sponsors or people you would like to thank?
I would like to thank all the fans and my team American Top Team. I work with an anti-bullying organization called Sweethearts and Heroes, and they deserve a shout out for the great message they are giving to kids. My sponsors Boca Tanning who is always helping me, Everlast who has been very supportive of me, and Perfecting Athletes has helped me with my diet, acupuncture, and supplements. Onnit who gives me my favorite supplement Alpha Brain.
I would also like to thank Paradigm Sports Management who manage me and are always behind me, and Paula Sciarrino(Zena) working on behalf of MMA 2 the Max and Pro Fight Sports for their support and help. Lastly, Bellator who continually gives me a platform to showcase my skills on, and is allowing me to fight live on Spike TV on March 28th and live in front of my fans in Tampa, Florida.
To keep up to date on the Jessica Aguilar follow her on Twitter, and make sure to tune into her fight against Patricia Vidonic on March 28th live on Spike TV, March 28th from Tampa, Florida at the USF Sun Dome.