JB: You are on a very impressive seven-fight winning streak, and your last two wins were against especially tough competition in Zoila Frausto Gurgel and Carina Damm. Who and what has helped you develop as a fighter, and into one of the top-ranked female flyweights, over these last couple years?
JE: I have to give huge credit to my team. You can see that with a guy like Stipe Miocic who is really breaking out onto the scene. Our team has been kind of flying under the radar. I like to give my team the utmost credit first.
I also would like to credit a couple females, like Tecia Torres. Itís very hard in this sport to find females that you can trust and that are very, very cool. One of which that Iíve become very, very good friends with, and Iím proud to say that she is a friend of mine, is Sara McMann. Sheís an amazing person. I brought her in back before I fought my first Bellator fight to get better with my wrestling. Obviously, with my loss, there was a reason I acted the way that I did, so I wanted to make myself better. Why not work with an Olympian, or another female that is outside of my weight class, that I can develop a friendship with? Another girl I got a chance to work with was Tecia Torres, right before my Zoila fight. It was great because Tecia is small like Zoila was. Also, there was Kelly Warren, who I fought about a year and a half ago. Itís very hard to make friends with girls, especially after you fight them and you beat them. It goes one of two ways. Either youíre really cool or itís just like, ďI hate you. I donít like you. Bottom line, weíre just never going to be cool with one another.Ē So those females have helped me a lot, but my team has been really, really, really amazing about bringing in people to help me and teach me all the skills that they can.
JB: Your last fight, the victory over Carina Damm, was earlier in June. What's next for you in your fighting career?
JE: The Carina fight kind of went back and forth. We had some issues with getting the fight scheduled. But we did end up getting it scheduled. It was a great fight. Iím glad I got to fight her. I was actually supposed to fight her when I fought Anita Rodriguez, back in Bellator. I had asked for a test to be done before I fought Carina, and they refused it. So we can obviously see where that went now because there wasnít a passing test result.
Right now Iíve been asking Bellator whatís going on. Theyíre in their summer series. I wasnít part of their summer series because I was supposed to fight in April and things got screwed up with my back. Iím guessing this next season youíll see me against Munah or another well-known female within their league.
Iíve said this publicly before, I donít call girls out. I feel like all of us have classes and itís that way with the guys too. Itís almost like there is an imaginary line. Iím standing in an imaginary line with one person out in front of me saying, ďYou fight this person, and you fight this person.Ē Whoever you put me up against, and whoever that person is out there thatís pulling us from this imaginary line, Iím fine with.
I was supposed to fight Munah back in April, before my injury, and it makes sense to have me fight her now. I mean, like, why not? Her fight with the Ring of Combat got cancelled. I had my fight with Carina. Iím going to have a couple months off. Iím sure sheís training hard. Itís a process of elimination. Letís both of us fight. Weíve never fought before. Weíre both 125. Letís do it!
JB: Of the other WMMA fighters out there, who are some that you most admire or respect and who are some that you would most like to fight?
JE: I admire Sara McMann. Sheís a great person. Sometimes people forget, and they just look at people for their fight styles and not who they are. Sheís a really great person. I have to say that I'm very hard-nosed. I have a lot of life experience so it's very hard for me to look up to people. So I have to say that she's one of them. I also love Rosi Sexton. I think that she's an amazing ambassador for the sport.
But hey, I think that I'm going to have to say this. And I don't think this is really necessarily for me, but it's for my fans and everybody else that wants to see the fight happen again. It's me vs. Barb Honchak. I think that everybody wants to see that. She's arguably ranked one of the top and I'm arguably ranked one of the top. Everybody seems to think that it was a controversial loss or that it was a split decision. And if anybody had seen that fight, it looked like I had submitted her in the second round and that they stopped the fight and then re-put the fight back on, which was very odd. Anybody can watch it on YouTube to see it themselves. But that was my second amateur fight ever, and I'm up to almost twenty fights now. I guess if there's going to have to be someone, I think for the fans, and for her, and for me, let's do it one day. Let's fight again.
JB: There are many issues in the sport of MMA that fighters and fans feel strongly about right now. What are the issues in the sport that are most important to you?
JE: To say it politically correct, I would love to see the women's 125 pound division promoted just like the women's 135 division because I think that the women's 125 has more depth than the 135. I think that females right now are being forced up to 135 for an opportunity. I'm not saying it's a bad one, but I want to see diversity. I want everybody to see the difference between a 115lb female, a 125, and a 135. And yet again people are seeing that when they are looking at the size difference between us. The size difference between me and Zoila was huge. She should be a 115-pounder. She shouldn't be a 125er. Carina should be a 125er and she could possibly go up to 135. I don't think she's ever even made 125 once. So you can see what girls can go up and down. Really I would love to see the 115, the 125, and the 135. I think that those are the three best women's weight classes, and I would love to see them each given their own identity.
JB: So I take it that means that you are pretty firmly entrenched at 125 as well then?
JE: Yes. For right now, I do.
JB: What else do you enjoy outside of training and fighting, and who are the individuals who have supported you most?
JE: Outside of my life is actually funny because my life is so much about fighting. This is my full-time gig. It has been my full-time gig for about five years now. I have not held a "normal" 9-5 job. I make all my money based upon my fights, promotions, and personal training, consulting. So really everything I do is based around it. I like to go canoeing. Everything I do on weekends I'm like, "Ooh, what can I do that will be fun and fitnessy?" Just most recently I bought a road bike. I've been road biking everywhere. I love doing athletic stuff. I like doing competitive stuff. I like going to the beach. I like shopping. I'm a very open person so I like just doing things that keep me happy and keep my career going forward. Any of my hobbies that I do don't conflict with what my main objective is, and that's to be a successful MMA fighter.
Most supportive have been my friends and my team and I have got a great group of sponsors that have been with me since the beginning. I feel like people recognize that too with me. They see the same consecutive sponsors and people that have been doing things with me. John P. Lennon is just a gentleman that sponsors our team. He's just a well-off gentleman who just likes to help. My other sponsor, Dawgs Foreverí Paul Hejduk, is actually working with a lot of females in MMA right now and really trying to help all of us. Yet again, he's another wealthy man that put a company together to help the females in MMA and help other fighters by boosting their name, selling T-shirts so that they can fund us. There is also Intimidation Clothing, Haasz Automall, and Chick-O-Stick, who has been with me since my very first fight sponsoring me on a very high level and really taking care of me. They have financially made it possible for me to focus strictly on just training.
JB: Last question, Jessica, and thank you so much for taking the time to do this. What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it?
JE: It means the world to me to be a fighter. I feel like before fighting I took a lot of different paths and a lot of them were very short-lived. This is the longest-lived thing and I feel it's been my true purpose. Fighting means everything to me, and I couldn't imagine my life without it. I love the effect that I'm able to have on people. I feel very blessed to be given the opportunity to have a voice in this world that people want to hear and are willing to listen to and show faith in. I'm very, very happy, very blessed. If I could give anybody advice, I'd say that, "If this is what you think you're supposed to do, stick with it. Don't let anybody ever tell you that you can't."