Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is in Chicago, Ill., for the first time since Jan. 2014 for UFC on FOX 16 (more on the card here). The primetime mixed martial arts (MMA) special, which takes place tonight (Sat., July 25, 2015) inside United Center, is headlined by a title rematch between Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and former kingpin Renan Barao.
On the four-fight FOX main card, there are numerous exciting bouts, but none other than the title fight. Dillashaw looks to put an end to his budding rivalry with the Nova Uniao staple Barao. He is also searching for his third finish in as many title fights.
The evening begins in earnest at 8 p.m. ET with a Lightweight bout that pits grappler Joe Lauzon against former Pride FC Lightweight titleholder Takanori Gomi. Another bout of note is a match up of 155-pound kickboxers featuring Brazilian blur Edson Barboza and upstart contender Paul Felder.
However, in the lone women's fight of the night, former Bantamweight title challenger Miesha Tate hopes to earn her second UFC shot at champion Ronda Rousey with a victory over Jessica Eye.
The 28-year-old Eye is in this crucial position with a 1-1-(1) record inside the Octagon. She could very well be undefeated if judges saw her tilt with Alexis Davis differently and if she did not test positive for marijuana following her "W" over Sarah Kaufman.
All "ifs" aside, "Evil Eye" is a game veteran of 14 fights and will not be an easy out for "Cupcake."
Eye's career in professional mixed martial arts (MMA) began in her homestate of Ohio in North American Allied Fight Series (NAAFS) against Amanda LaVoy. The Cleveland native picked up her first win over LaVoy in dominant fashion with a second-round technical knockout finish.
She notched her second consecutive victory three months later in Akron against Marissa Caldwell. Although it was a unanimous decision, fight fans witnessed the birth of a truly dynamic striker in Eye.
Multiple times during the 15-minute affair, Eye closed in on a finish, whether it be through a submission or ground and pound. In the first frame, Eye slapped on a guillotine choke then, when she could not get the tap, transitioned to an armbar, before finally reversing Caldwell and sliding into her full guard.
In her third professional fight, Eye won gold. She competed in famed New Jersey fight promotion Ring of Combat (ROC) in Feb. 2011 against Ashley Nee and fed her a large dose of, well, knees.
From the get-go, Eye made Nee look like she was not in her league, plastering her against the cage at every opportunity, where she cranked out vicious knees, body punches -- basically her whole repertoire.
Once more, Eye's body shots and clinch work are something to marvel at. Really. Her gas tank is incredible seeing as some fighters might pull back so they do not expend themselves.
Alas, she earned the ROC 130-pound title, but never defended it. Eye suffered her first loss in her fourth fight against current UFC Strawweight contender Aisling Daly in NAAFS.
The Strong Style Fight Team representative Eye won the first round with excellent control on the mat. She was taken down in the second frame after throwing a kick, but maneuvered out from the bottom and ended up in north-south position, before securing side control.
She would be reversed moments later and fall via rear-naked choke to the SBG Ireland product Daly.
Though an error on the ground played into her downfall, Eye's Brazilian jiu-jitsu is quite impressive, from the way she fights for locks and chokes on the bottom, to her guard passing. It is a nice compliment to her pristine striking.
Eye moved on and would continue fighting in NAAFS, as well as Bellator. Three months after the Daly loss, she won a split-decision over Casey Noland for the latter.
The Noland victory would mark the beginning of a seven-fight win streak for Eye. She would outpoint Jennifer Scott in Nov. 2011, utilizing straight punches and the occasional left hook or leg kick.
Throughout the streak, Eye fought nearby in Canton and Cleveland, later defeating Kelly Warren, Anita Rodriguez and future The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 competitor Angela Magana.
Eye amassed five wins in less than one year. She was overwhelming women with her finesse fight game on the feet and ground, but she had yet to tally a signature win, until Bellator 83.
Zoila Gurgel was the opponent and the venue was Atlantic City, N.J., the same location in which she captured the ROC title. She would last 58 seconds in the cage with Eye.
The efficient striker came out like a bat out of hell, immediately dropping the future Invicta FC competitor with a hard right hook. Following the knockdown, Eye never let off the gas pedal and cinched up a standing arm-triangle choke for the tap.
Before UFC came-a-calling in Fall 2013, Eye fought once more in NAAFS against Carina Damm.
The fight was a tough one for Eye, especially in the second round where she was dropped via a head kick and taken down in the final minute. Fortunately for her, she took rounds one and three based off of her textbook stand-up attack and accuracy.
Striking? Check. Power? Check. Jiu-jitsu? Check ... Chin? Check. Eye was one badass chick.
Right away, Eye was thrown to the wolves in the Octagon, upon her signing with the promotion in Aug. 2013, against the former Strikeforce Bantamweight champion Kaufman at UFC 166.
The pair of 135-pound brawlers threw down in Houston, Texas, for 15 minutes, rocking each other quite a bit. Kaufman was aggressive and landed several hooks in the bout, but Eye proved to be a handful in the clinch and in her counter punches.
Then UFC newcomer Eye was awarded the controversial split-decision victory, which was later overturned due to a positive marijuana test. Things did not get much better for her as she was involved in yet another close fight three months later at UFC 170 against Davis.
Arguably down two rounds heading into the final frame, Eye stormed back, throwing heat, but it was too little too late as the Canadian was awarded the split-decision win.
After all the turmoil, and tough tilts, she would earn her first clear-cut Octagon win and then some over Leslie Smith. Anyone want some ear, as in Smith's mangled left ear?
At UFC 180, Eye waged war on the Cesar Gracie student, busting her up with right hands, eventually opening the left ear of Smith late in round one. The fight was called little more than one minute into the second frame.
Five months later, Eye was booked to face Tate in a title eliminator at the UFC on FOX 16 show in Chicago. The 28-year-old Tate is desperate for a third crack at champion Ronda Rousey and is a winner of three straight fights.
The former Strikeforce 135-pound champion possesses a smash-mouth fight style and typically aims to get the fight to the ground. Between Tates' forward pressure and Eye's striking prowess, it will be an interesting test of styles.
Can Tate find her way into the clinch or hit a takedown or will Eye keep Tate at bay with her straight punches? Sound off in the comment section!
Be sure that you stay with MMAmania for all things UFC on FOX 16: "Dillashaw vs. Barao," including live updates and play-by-play (right here), post-fight recaps and analysis; plus much more!