Jessica Delboni’s crowning moment should have arguably come following her initial May 2021 encounter with Alesha Zappitella. However, at Invicta FC 45 on Jan. 12, 2022, “The Queen” left no doubt when capturing the title via a one-sided unanimous decision.
The 28-year-old Vila Velha native sees a new world of opportunity awaiting her now that the belt is in her possession. Delboni (12-3) is more than content defending her strap for as long as she finds necessary.
But, making a larger impact on the grandest stage is undeniably a present thought.
“They just need the atomweight category in the UFC,” Delboni told MMAmania.com. “Because they have a lot of contenders in the UFC. Every year they say they’ll open atomweight. So I hope [they do it this year]. I think it will be very good for all girls. I think they have a lot at strawweight in the UFC that are true atomweights but just stay there because there is no atomweight. Maybe Carla Esparza would go down, maybe Loma [Lookboonmee], Jinh Yu Frey, Tecia Torres. A lot of girls at strawweight could go down to atomweight. I think it will be a tough category in the UFC. A lot of good girls can fight.
“They could contract girls from Japan, China, RIZIN, Invicta,” she continued. “This would be very good for me because I am the champ in Invicta now so UFC needs one champion. I think I wouldn’t come right in and be champion but I think I would fight for the belt first. Maybe against the champion in RIZIN because the UFC would need a new champ. If not, I defend my belt this year, no problem.”
Delboni has an interest in joining UFC one day. Despite being a former strawweight, however, she doesn’t want to make the jump by going back up in weight. Not even an attempt at becoming dual-division champion in Invicta is enticing as Delboni finds herself friendly with fellow titlist, Emily Ducote.
The 105-pound division has grown at a healthy rate globally over the past decade. While Delboni is one of the best in the world, there are still several others who are placed above her from a worldwide ranking perspective.
Invicta and Japan’s RIZIN Fighting Federation are no strangers to working together. The possibility is certainly there for Delboni to take out her fellow top atomweight talents ... she just doesn’t prefer going overseas to do so.
“I want to stay here in Invicta,” Delboni said. “If the girls want to come to Invicta then okay, but I don’t want to go over there. Japan has different rules in RIZIN. I’m not accustomed to this so the other girls will have an advantage. I prefer if they come to Invicta, no problem. But I don’t go there.”
Immediate next challengers will likely come from Invicta for Delboni and she intends to keep a close eye on the competition. Just don’t expect the first title defense to be a Zappitella trilogy.
“Trilogy? No, no. I think Alesha doesn’t want to fight me more,” she said. “I saw it in her face when I fought with her. I don’t think she wanted to fight with me before now. I think now she has new plans about going up or down [in weight]. I don’t know. But I think she won’t fight me anymore and we don’t need this. I won when I fought her the first time, and the second fight, definitely. If it was a close fight again like the first fight, okay. But now, I literally won five rounds.”