Friday, February 14, 2014

Why We Believe

Photo Credit: Jacob Gibby Lane

It's a story I have told multiple times. The story of the first MMA card I ever covered as media. It was NAAFS Even of Destruction, a September 2010 all female card. The main event featured Jessica "Evil" Eye against Marissa "Shorty" Caldwell. I knew of Jessica but did not know Jessica. What I did know was that Marissa walked into a very hostile environment as I don't think she had a fan in the building, at least it seemed that way. The crowd was full of supporters, there to see Jessica. It being my first time as "media", I was unaware of proper protocol and feeling bad for Marissa, I began openly rooting for her, I mean somebody had to right? Jessica put on a great performance and won the fight. Even after rooting against her, I waited for a little bit, for the cage to be taken down, people to leave, until Jessica emerged from the locker room to get a picture with her and ask her to do one of my interviews, back when I did them by email. What impressed me was Jessica seemed more excited to take pictures with fans than the fans were to take pictures with her. Jessica said she would do one of my interviews, but unfortunately, we didn't get to it.

The next time I saw Jessica was the next even I covered. She had come to support teammates on the card. I stood there talking with Nichole Castillo, the NAAFS matchmaker, and Jessica walked in and gave me this big hug. My thought at the time was "she must be one of those people who forgets who she has long talks with and who she has short talks with and wants to be careful not to offend anyone." Over time, as I became better friends with her, I learned that the reality is that that is just Jessica. That's who she is, if you show her an ounce of support, she has great appreciation for you. Over the past couple years, through her training me, through her lone loss to Aisling Daly, through Bellator and now the UFC, I have been one of many many people who are loyal to Jessica. Not so much Jessica the fighter, but Jessica the person. Whether it was sitting on the couch with her days after the Daly fight or the other end of that, talking with her at the gym after her UFC debut and win. The one memory that stays with me is the talk after the Daly fight. Jessica was upset, not so much that she lost, as days prior she had even said to me in an interview that no one goes undefeated forever. She was upset because she felt she had let people down, all the people that came to support her. But in my mind, one good thing about the Daly loss is she learned those same people still supported her, they didn't do so based on her record or whether she won or lost a certain fight.

As a member of the media, I always worry if I am walking that line careful enough. That line where I have to separate friendship and loyalty with professionalism. I think I do an o.k. job. When at her fights and covering them when she was fighting for NAAFS, I was able to be professional and not root and call the fight as I saw it. But I can also admit, at times, media takes a back seat to loyalty, such as the recent events that have come out surrounding her fight with Sarah Kaufman.

It came out in a story on Sherdog that Jessica's win was being made a no-contest due to some failed test. Over the weekend that it came out, no one knew why. There were all kinds of theories being floated around. Finally it seemed to be that it was due to blood thinner. Story over right? Wrong! It was later revealed by Bloody Elbow that it was for marijuana. There was a quick rush by many who support Jessica to denounce that story. I myself believed what Jessica said about it being blood thinner and felt the story was an attempt to cause problems.

Well by now we all know it was in fact a positive test for cannabinoids, better known as marijuana. After thinking about it for a couple minutes, want to know my response? So what! Especially when I found out what level she tested and just how insignificant it was. I sure as hell was not going to condemn her for that. People wanted to attack her for not being honest, not admitting it, sticking with the blood thinner claim. In my opinion, it was a person wanting to protect her image, a person who is looked up to and admired. Jessica owes no apologies for that in my opinion. Do we not defend and vote into office politicians who regularly fabricate or stretch the truth in an attempt to protect their image? Yes, some of those same politicians are then attacked when they are caught in a lie, but then the next one is ushered in and the process repeats itself. People quickly defend the next one and vote him into office and people will blindly dismiss any allegations of them being dishonest in order to get the one they want into whatever office he or she is seeking. But a fighter wants to protect her image and suddenly there is an outcry for an apology, an outcry from people with all sorts of possible punishments she may deserve. People defended Jessica and then when the story came out, those people received criticism for defending her and being so quick to do so, yet many of those doing the criticizing are now doing so in a way that is very similar to what they are accusing her defenders of doing. People make a social media post expressing support of Jessica and people comment or reply attacking her. Are we wrong for defending her or standing by her using our written word to do so and you right for using your written word to vilify her?

Jessica received and accepted her punishment. That is how the process works. You do wrong, you get punished, you serve punishment. If she wants to deny what that punishment is for, that is her right to do so, it is her right to want to protect her image. There is not an explanation needed. She did not give me the truth, and you know what? I don't care, in fact I totally understand why. It did not in any way change how I feel about her, how I will support her and how I will always proudly write EYEBelieve. Because I know the reality. The reality is that Jessica cares for her fans as much as any fighter in the sport and it was for them, it was not wanting to let them down, it is how they feel about her that matters most.

We are days away from a big fight between two of the best, Jessica Eye vs. Alexis Davis. A fight with huge implications. My hope is we can now focus on that. Give both fighters what they deserve, a proper build-up to what will be a great fight.

One good thing about tough situations is it lets a person see who her or his real friends and real supporters are. People who will have their back not only in the good times but also in the bad. I felt a proper ending to this would be to allow some of those in the sport show that they are among those who will have her back and express why they are so supportive of Jessica Eye in their own words.

Tamikka Brents
Jess is probably one of the most genuine people I've met period, let alone in the MMA community where a lot of people have ulterior motives to befriending you. I met her as an amateur and she had zero ego and since then, even with all the popularity and celebrity, that still hasn't changed. She's an awesome fighter as well as an awesome person.

Mike Newcomb
I admire Jessica Eye, because she is a selfless, kind and genuine person.How else can I describe someone that checks in on a fan that has cancer, to see how you're feeling, the week of her fight with Sarah Kaufman, and she still checks on me regularly,as busy as she is, she puts others first.That's why,

Erik Tisler
Jessica Eye and I have been close friends for many years now. I have never met someone so genuine in my life. She has been there for me when times were ruff in my life, always having some encouraging words to help lift my spirit. She doesn't hold back, and tells ya how it is. Jess goes above and beyond for fans, friends and family. She has always believed in me, and I will always believe in her. Though we may not be blood brother and sister, she will always be apart of my family and hold a special place in my heart.

Jessica Dinch
Her name is Jessica Eye. Most people know her from fighting in the UFC. A lot of you now know her because she’s been blasted all over social media due to the failed drug test issue. But, very few of you actually know Jessica Eye outside of the cage. About 2 years ago, I had the privilege of not only meeting her, but getting to train with her on numerous occasions. Notice how I said NUMEROUS occasions. Also, I live 2 hours away from Strongstyle. There’s plenty of reasons why I kept making that drive back and forth to train. Oh, and let me remind you that I’m just an ammy fighter with a sucky ass record too. The first time I walked into Strongstyle I was greeted by Jess and treated like I had been there forever, and at this time Jess was a Bellator star! But she trained with me, she taught me, she pushed me, and she motivated me. One of the most humble athletes you could ever meet. A rising star taking the time out of her training to help me and work with me. That’s just who Jess is. She would do anything for anybody. She has the heart of a champion IN and OUT of the cage. The mistake that she has made doesn’t define who she is. It doesn’t even fucking come close. Until I read a very in depth interview on Jess, I would have NEVER known the struggles and the hard times she had growing up. You know why that is? Because she learns and she grows and she OVERCOMES EVERY FUCKING OBSTACLE IN HER WAY! Doing it all with a smile on her face and a positive attitude. The shit that she has gone through, most of you would crawl in a hole and die. But, she just keeps getting STRONGER and STRONGER! If any of you media turds can look in the mirror and honestly say you never told a lie, then by all means keep talking. Otherwise, SHUT THE FUCK UP! Jess, I will ALWAYS BELIEVE. FUCK SHIT UP ON FEB. 22!!!!!

Steve Rychel
I first met Jessica at Bellator 74. She was there to watch the the Holland vs Ould fight. She talked to my stepdaughter Kayla who had recently started training but would just turtle up and scream when any one would throw a punch at her and Jess just gave her some in encouraging words and they they still talk here and there on twitter. Jess has been nothing but nice and accommodating any time we talk, regardless if its social media or through messaging or interviews we have conducted. She is someone I would like my girls to model themselves after. Jessica has one of the biggest hearts I have ever seen inside and outside of fighting and honored to call her a friend.

Tori Tisler
When I first moved to Cleveland, a couple years ago, Jess was one of the first people I made friends with. I only knew a handful of people here, but she took the time to make me feel like family from the first time her and I talked. Being a new person in a big city is certainly scary, but Jess made sure to include me in everything. Since then our friendship has really become something awesome. I mean she even bought our family the crib that our son sleeps in every night. Jess is an incredibly hard working respectable woman, who has really earned all the success she has today. Although I'd have to say that one of my favorite things about her is the fact that the same Jess that you see in interviews, on TV, and around the city is the same person that she is when we're all just hanging out together. It's not an act, she's the same genuine funny person on all levels, no matter who she's around. I'm beyond proud of her and her success, and even more proud to be able to call her one of my closest friends.

Nichole Usko
I met and train with Jess a few times and she is by far is the most approachable woman I ever met. When I came to her gym she treated me like I wasn't a guest and was so down to earth & friendly. The way she talks about fighting , training and her family she has so much passion. The look in her eyes when she fights and trains is she's passionate about this sport. I believe in Jess and I believe she will be wearing that belt soon regardless of any obstacles ! Eyebelieve!!!!

Stephanie Skinner
EyeBelieve in Jessica Eye! Regardless of any of what has come up to be known, she is and will always be the talented Jessica Eye. I admire and look up to her for her work ethic, her fight style and how she carries herself and conducts herself. When she beat Zoila quick like it was nobody business I became even more a fan! She is the smallest 135er in the UFC and she could care less, it's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog and she has so much heart and determination it's inspiring. To hell with the haters, EyeBelieve, and I support her for all her contributions to the sport.

Tania Allen
The reasons why I EYEBELIEVE in Jess are that she inspires and motivates me to be a better person everyday. From the 1st time I saw her fight I was an instant fan. Following her ammy career & during start of her pro career I knew she had IT!. She is the most amazing person I have ever met. I admire her as a fighter and for the real person she is everyday. She works her ass . I just believe in her no matter what she does. I felt an instant connection the first time we met like we have known each other for years. I went to shake her hand & Jess said "Give me a hug I am a hugger". I love her like she is my own kid. She is my family-we r not related by blood, but by love. EYEBELIEVE was a cute lil motto/logo that has morphed into a real motivation for me to always stay positive. I truly believe that Jess is a role model for everybody. She has a huge heart, a smile that lights the room, and a presence that just really inspires you to be your best. She is so giving and has done so much charity work ,motivational speaking, and has helped anyone who has ever needed help. I am blessed to have her in my life. Getting a text from my Jesse just puts a smile on my face. When I am having a bad day thinking of her and my son really inspires me to get through it. So for all the good that Jesse has done can we all just send her some positive, kind words just to let her know she is a wonderful, sweet , angel? These are the reasons why EYEBELIEVE & ALWAYS WILL NO MATTER WHAT!!!! I luv u Jess

Ashley Hawkins
Jessica eye is more then just an awesome fighter, shes always an awesome person. She's the first female fight I've ever seen live and I have looked up to her since that first fight! I consider her a friend and team mate. She's always is so nice and humble. She opened her gym up to me. She always made time to teach me something new and help me with anything I needed. Even after we sparred many rounds. She helped me so much after coming from a gym that didn't treat me right at all. I am so thankful for that!! She has had my back and believed In me. Even had her coach and herself corner me in a couple fights. And I always have her back and am "in her corner". I always said she has what it takes To be the champ and eye believe it!!

Patty Cohara
"Jessica Eye" The Fighter, The Friend, The Supporter and your over all good hearted person. I believe it was 2009 when I enrolled my son at Strongstyle and saw Jessica training there. I was amazed that a girl was actually in the cage right there holding her own with the boys. My thought was "One bad a$$ girl" Not one you can just go up to and talk to. You know the saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover". I was completely wrong, Jessica is just so amazing in so many ways. She always takes the time to say Hi to everyone and to my kids (who just adore her and love to watch her fight). She is willing to give advise when she sees you need it or if your in need to ask her. She gives her time to support good causes (breast cancer and anti bulling at the schools) on top of her busy schedule.
Jessica takes her profession very seriously and works very hard at it. She is where she is today because of all this. Now that she has made a "Name" for herself in this sport and spotlight, her life is out there in the open. She also has her personal Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts along with a fan page. What I admire is you don't see her posting pictures of herself like she is in a Beauty Pageant. She shares her thoughts, life moments and pictures she takes with her fans and supporters.
We can't forget that she is also human just like us who follow her or know of her. We all have or will in our life time make a mistake or bad decision but we learn from it. It's doesn't change who you are inside and what you believe in. We should not pass judgment so quickly or point fingers. True friends/fans should be behind her to help lift her up, dust her off and let her know it's ok and we are still behind her. I know I am still a big fan/friend of hers. I will be cheering her on for every fight along the way. Yes Jessica Eye I am a true Eyebeliever!!!

Howard Fidler
I have worked with elite athletes for over 17 years and can't say that many have had as big an impact in my life as Jessica Eye. She opened her life to me and became a role model to my 2 girls. She has become a permanent part of my family.

Rach Wiley
First and foremost I wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to text me before my fight. It absolutely made my day, and it just goes to show how amazing you truly are. How many pro fighters at your level would do that? Not many at all. It is especially awesome because I know your life has been very busy and hectic. Please understand that no matter what goes on in life that there are so many people that love you and will stand by you unconditionally. You are an amazing fighter, and an amazing person all around. You know they say, the more haters you have, the more you can be assured that you're doing something right. Kat Williams said "if you have 14 haters, you need to find a way to get to 16 before the summer time". You have so much to be proud of, and people will hate you for it but F them!!! I look up to you so much. I want to be just like you some day. Please don't let people bring you down. I can't wait to watch you fight on the 22. You work so hard and I truly admire you. I will be a life long fan of yours no matter what you do in life. Stay awesome.

Nikolai Gionti
Jessica has been there since I met her. Originally, we were on business terms with me interviewing her for my podcast, but I would like to say that it has become much more than that. She helped corner me in my first grappling tournament and was kind enough to invite me down to train at Strong Style with her. We all make mistakes, but nothing can change the support I have for her after all she has done for me.

Brett Trepczyk
I'd def say that with her what you see is what you get. She's real. It's probably out of bias because we sort of saw her before everybody else in the NAAFS but she is the same person you see on tv. It's not an act at all. Very down to Earth. I'd say something like that. Plus I still can't get over the first 2 fights I've seen her in.
1st was her first ever loss. I was still impressed despite the loss and honestly she got me interested in WMMA. The second was against Carina Damm because that was the first event I had taken my brother Cole to. She not only beat her on a slippery mat, she beat some one who was on P.E.D's. That's unheard of. Not to give Carina more negative pub but I think that fight alone speaks volumes.
These are the things that people aspiring to be pro athletes (such as myself) try to take notes on. How to be mentally tough and stay on that mental level because it's more mental than physical at that level in my eyes. It has to be a bitch especially dealing with the fact her pops is in a fight for his life. I can't imagine one of my parents getting that news so I would say she's a good role model on how to deal with that situation while still maintaining everything else going on in your own life.

Sarah McLeod
At a medical school interview this past weekend, I was asked to describe the qualities of a good leader. With two minutes to prepare a 7-minute speech, I tried to imagine the positive characteristics of myself that would fit this description but in all honesty, I found myself thinking about Jess. A good leader is someone who stands strong when faced with adversity; someone who works hard to be in a position of positive influence; and someone who believes in him/herself. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone is capable of making them. I would stand strong to support my opinion that there are too many positives about Jess to judge one poor decision. To me, Jess IS and ALWAYS has been the epitome of a good leader; a genuine, indomitable and amazing woman. I anticipate and look forward to an even stronger Jess than before.

Cassie Robb
Last week I found out one of my favorite fighters had her last fight robbed from her due to failing a drug test. When I first heard this I thought NO, this cannot be true. How could someone basically cheat their way through this sport by taking performance enhancing drugs. I've always been against the use of steroids.. Come to find out.. That was not what came up in her system. Turns out..... IT WAS JUST WEED. Yes, JUST weed. Now this just blows my mind. Why is it such a big deal if a fighter uses marijuana? It is not a performance enhancing drug by any means. If anything I would say it would be great for pain and for stress in a fighters life. I want Jessica to know that no matter what, she has my full an complete support. There is no way that a minor thing like smoking weed is going to make me think any differently of her. It's a common thing nowadays and is even legal recreationally here In Colorado where I live. Like i said before.. It's just weed people, grow up!!!

Scottie Weaver
First of all I am just not a Jessica Eye fan but I consider myself as her friend. I support her no matter what anyone has to say negative or positive. She is good for the sport and has a heart of gold. She came all the way to my fight at the Arnold Classic last year in which I headlined not to support just me but to sit with my 14 year old son who she met at her fight at the Rock N Rumble. For a fighter to travel to Columbus 150 miles away to sit with my son because she's his favorite fighter is amazing. Tell me another fighter that would do that? Everybody makes mistakes and I don't consider it a mistakes if you learn from them. I don't care never fights again and becomes a clerk at gas station, I would do anything for her. So anyone who don't like her can FUCKOFF. EYEBELIEVE!


  1. MMAmadhouse supports Jessica Eye #EyeBelieve

  2. In a week or two the MMA media will find someone else to obsess over and we will all go back to focusing on what matters, the fact that Jessica is an extremely talented fighter.

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