CLEVELAND -- Cleveland’s Jessica Eye has lost three straight fights and four of her last five under the banner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the veteran mixed martial artist decided a change needed to be made in her game.
Eye sought the help of a sports psychologist, and in training for Saturday’s bout against Bethe Correia at UFC 203 in Quicken Loans Arena, her striking coach, Alex Cooper, has seen a completely different fighter inside Strong Style MMA Gym in Independence.
“The changes that we’ve made for this fight are purely mental, and part of it goes hand-in-hand with training as the psychologist as well. I think she’s going to be very focused. I think she’s going to know what she needs to do, and she’s going to remember what she needs to do on fight night.
“The main thing that is different from the past is setting up all of her strikes. Before, her speed and her strikes were everything, but it was kind of a bat-out-of-hell mentality. She’s much more patient now, uses her mind, sets up the right shots, and is looking to end the fight with any of her big strikes.”
Eye suffered a unanimous decision loss to Sara McMann in a women’s bantamweight bout in the main event of the preliminary card at UFC Fight Night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on May 29.
During the first round of the bout, Eye and McMann were cautious and respectful of each other’s strengths, striking for Eye and wrestling for McMann, a silver medalist in freestyle wrestling in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Despite being down, two rounds to none, on the scorecard, Eye did not push the pace to start the third and was again taken down with 3:55 to go in the bout. As Eye threw a left leg kick toward McMann’s head, the accomplished wrestler got a one-legged takedown.
McMann held dominant position for the remainder of the fight and landed several punches to Eye’s head before time ran out.
“I think she got a little timid for the big takedown,” Cooper said. “The words we use, she couldn’t pull the trigger on the shots we needed. She was set up. She was in the right spots. She was using head movement. Everything was right except the punches weren’t coming off. We’ve corrected that, and that will not be an issue in this upcoming fight.”
Although Eye is excited about fighting in Cleveland for the first time in more than three years, Cooper sees nothing but focus from his athlete, and expects nothing to change when she walks into Quicken Loans Arena tonight.
“A lot of that’s on her, and she does a great job,” Eye said. “She’s fun and bubbly, and her personality shines here in the gym, but she knows when the cameras are going and the bell rings, it’s game time. It’s time to go. It’s normally not a lot of work to get her to focus and be ready to go.
“She lives for that energy. I think she’ll feed off that crowd. As soon as she hears the roar for her name, I think that will bring her to a new level, and I’m really excited to see it. I think she’ll put on a great show.”
This is Part Seven of our series leading up to Eye’s bantamweight bout with Bethe Correia at UFC 203 tonight.