Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweights Jessica Eye and Julianna Pena scrapped last night (Oct. 3, 2015) at UFC 192 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Eye's position as a top contender was in jeopardy. The boxing specialist came up short in her most recent match up, and her official Octagon record wasn't pretty either, leaving her in desperate need of a victory.
On the other hand, Pena entered the fight as the brightest prospect in her division. That role carries some pressure, but the "Venezuelan Vixen" was simply looking for another dominant victory.
Unlike most of her recent fights, Pena's early blitz did not immediately work out. At first, Eye was able to defend the takedown and land a few strikes, showing some promise.
It took a few minutes and some positional exchanges in the clinch, but Pena finally scored a throw into side control with about a minute remaining in the round. She wasn't able to accomplish much from top position, but it likely won her the first round.
After a wild exchange, Eye caught a kick and landed in top position. The two stalemated for about a minute, before Eye attempted to take the back. Pena defended the back take well, but Eye was able to transition into an arm triangle choke, which she threatened with briefly.
In the final minute of the round, Eye attempted to land a choke and wound up on her back. Then, in a classic case of Texas refereeing, Eye was deducted a point for landing a less-than-powerful knee from her back directly into Pena's jaw and then the referee stood them up to finish the round.
Pena started the round with a quick takedown into guard. Eye momentarily attempted an inverted triangle, but she left her back open and was almost submitted by a rear naked choke.
Despite the danger, Eye managed to roll back into guard. She continued trying to attack with submissions from her back, but Pena was the more experienced grappler and used those submission attempts to attempt to pass.
Ultimately, Pena couldn't secure her submission finish, but she did earn the unanimous decision victory.
It wasn't a performance of utter dominance like some of Pena's earlier victories, but that's to be expected since it was a major step up in competition. For a relatively inexperienced fighter, Pena did an excellent job controlling her opponent and threatening with submissions en route to the victory.
As has been the story of her career, Pena's grappling and aggression carried her to the victory. She's still far from a technical combatant, but Pena has the mentality to win important fights.
Maybe not against Ronda Rousey -- the woman she called out in the post-fight -- but it's a valuable trait nonetheless.
Despite her raw skill set, Pena is now legitimately in the top 10 of the division, if not the top five. While it would probably be better for her to have more time to develop, that seems unlikely. Therefore, a fight with Alexis Davis could make sense.
This is another tough loss for Eye. "Evil" Eye is a solid athlete with good skills, but she's not great enough in either area to overcome to larger and often stronger women at the top of the division.
That's a tough pill to swallow, but it's Eye's destiny unless the UFC creates a women's flyweight division. Until that time, a rematch with Sarah Kaufman would surely be a solid striking match.
Last night, Julianna Pena continued her win streak inside the Octagon by taking a decision over Jessica Eye. How high can Pena climb?
For complete UFC 192 "Cormier vs Gustafsson" results and play-by-play, click HERE!