Jessica Aguilar has seen it all unfold right before her eyes.
The combat sports veteran is a witness to how far women have come in mixed martial arts. Aguilar (20-8) began fighting professionally in 2006, years before women took center stage in major promotions and way before women were competing in the UFC.
Almost 15 years later, Aguilar is still fighting in the cage, but in a much different sport. Today, women have stakes in the biggest fights, events and moments in MMA. There is no major MMA organization that doesn’t have a women’s division on its roster.
Aguilar, a former WSOF strawweight champion and ex-Bellator and UFC fighter, is proud to see the heights women have reached in MMA and is grateful to have witnessed it all.
“I’m very proud of being a pioneer and witnessing this journey, this growth in women’s MMA,” Aguilar said in Spanish on Monday’s episode of Hablemos MMA. “I always knew and had that vision that women were going to make it to the UFC.
“Actually, when I was in New York for the (jiu-jitsu Pan Americans), it was like my second competing in jiu-jitsu. I went to compete at the Pan Ams and we were cutting weight at Gold’s Gym and I saw (UFC president) Dana White. That was like 2007 or 2008. I went up to him and I gave him my card and told him that women were one day going to be in the UFC and that I would fight for him. That was 2007. I always knew that was coming.”
Years later, in 2011, White told TMZ that women would never fight in the UFC. Two years after White’s comments, Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche became the first two women to compete in the UFC, headlining UFC 157 in February 2013. And a little more than two years after that historic moment, Aguilar made her UFC debut.
Aguilar was able to achieve her dreams of not only seeing women in the UFC, the world’s premiere MMA organization, but also stepping in the octagon herself. She saw it all coming.
“I had a dream to be the best and to get to the highest level,” Aguilar said. “UFC is the highest, although there are many promotions that do a great job and have good women fights that allow our sport to grow and get bigger.
“I always knew that women were going to reach that height. So I’m very proud of being a pioneer and being able to see the sport grow. I admire the women and I applaud them because we’ve gotten there and we’re established. Before, the pool wasn’t that deep. Now you’re seeing all the levels. Women are going to continue to improve and get better, and it’s only up from here.”
The Mexican fighter was also able to check off a few other boxes apart from being in the UFC. From 2010 to 2014, Aguilar was able string together a 10-fight wining streak that saw her win the WSOF 115-pound title while picking up wins over notable names such as former UFC champ Carla Esparza and seasoned veteran Megumi Fujii (twice).
For several years, Aguilar was seen by many as the best strawweight on the planet.
“I actually never thought it would happen, but I said, ‘I’m going to give it five years, and if in five years it doesn’t work out, I’ll stop fighting and continue my life,’” Aguilar said. “But just a little bit after my five-year goal, which was set in July 2006, I became the best strawweight in the world, which was when I beat Megumi Fujii in Bellator.
“My dream was to be the best, but I never thought I would reach it and never thought that (with) 15 years in the sport, I would be a pioneer and be able to share my story and inspire women and motivate people to follow their dreams. So it was just something that happened. I’ve had a beautiful career. I know I’m sometimes my worst enemy, but if you look at my career and what I’ve done, not everyone can say they were the best in the world at something. I’m very proud of that. I’m still here, and in February it will be 15 years fighting professionally.”
Aguilar is no longer training at American Top Team in South Florida. She relocated to Houston and has been training at Main Street Boxing and Muay Thai along side UFC fighter Lauren Murphy.
The seasoned veteran returns to action Nov. 11 when she takes on Danielle Taylor at an XFC event in Atlanta. It will be her first fight since March 2019.
Aguilar is coming off a rough few years and is 1-2 since 2018. But despite the adversity, Aguilar said she is renewed after switching camps, taking some time off and switching promotions.
“The last time we spoke, my mentality was somewhere else,” Aguilar said.”I think I listen too much to the media and people saying, ‘You’re too old,’ and I also think that my five fights in the UFC weren’t too good. I had a lot of injuries, and they’re not excuses. It’s decisions I took that weren’t good for my career.
“I wanted to fight too soon from injury, and things like that, and I didn’t do too well. I think that all that, which affected me – I’ve left it all behind. I let that change my mentality, but know I’m at a better place. I could keep fighting two, four years – we’ll see. But I’m very happy to sign with XFC and keep representing Latin America.”