UFC Fighter Jessica “Evil” Eye
Contributor: Ron Graham (@RonGraham1)
I had never heard of UFC Bantamweight contender Jessica “Evil” Eye until she appeared as a guest on the Sports Fix, my favorite sports talk show. Eye represents Cleveland in whatever she does, and I’m all about that. And her conversation with host J-Rocc got me interested not just in her exploits, but in MMA in general.
Having never paid attention to it before, no doubt I never understood what was going on. But here’s a sport many people like, and in which many people can get hurt. In a way, MMA fights capture what people like most about one-on-one sports: colorful, noisy, exciting, violent and,at times, very dangerous. The fighters are our gladiators.
So Ms. Eye did a public signing on March 19 at the grand opening of a Circle K convenience store, with DJ Dan Stansbury of Canton’s WRQK-FM 106.9, and I got to talk to her for a few minutes. (Everyone who waited in line while we gabbed, I apologize for holding you up. But there was free pizza and soda!)
By way of background, she was born in Rootstown, OH; lives in Cleveland, is as athletic and attractive as you can ask for in someone in professional sports – and is SO NICE. So grateful for opportunities, and ready to connect with fans. And in case you wonder, the “Evil Eye” is somewhat reminiscent of The Rock’s “People’s Eyebrow.” It all goes back to Mr. Spock. Live long and prosper.
Even a guy who knows as little about MMA as I do recognizes that Ms. Eye, despite having faced her share of career setbacks along the way, is one of Cleveland’s more recognizable athletes. She, along with Euclid-based UFC heavyweight Stipe Miocic, make the question I asked her seem oh, so reasonable:
“Why isn’t Cleveland a major stop for the UFC?”
She mentioned “the Commission” as being a reason. Probably the Ohio Athletic Commission, which governs such events, and seldom makes much money on them.
But even the OAC admits that if the UFC – the brightest light in MMA – does a tour stop in Cleveland or Columbus, they’d sell out and have a gate in the millions. And the Commission would get a nice piece too, to help their work. The UFC loves Ohio and there have been rumors for months. A UFC show that put a spotlight on Eye and Miocic would make the fans pop all over the northern half of the state.
Stansbury was even more enthusiastic: “A fight in the ‘Q’ (Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena) makes all the sense in the world. And when [Jessica] wins her next fight [it hasn’t been announced yet], she’ll be title-ready!”
Ms. Eye also mentioned the names of UFC fighters throughout the region: Cody Garbrandt (Uhrichsvile), Chris Lozano (Cleveland), Josh Koscheck (Edinboro State grad), Michael Graves (Toledo), etc. No expert here, but I know some of these guys no longer live in the region – you would bring them in because they once did. Ms. Eye mentioned so many names that I couldn’t keep up.
The bottom line is that to Jessica Eye, MMA just gets better and better; and Ohio is all the better for it.
-Ron Graham (@RonGraham1)