Jessica Aguilar threw the mixed martial arts world a curveball this week by signing with World Series of Fighting, a Las Vegas-based promotion that has yet to host a women’s MMA bout.
Though the move may have caught some fans off-guard, the highly-regarded strawweight said she is perfectly content with her decision to become the first woman on the WSOF roster.
“I believe that the WSOF is capable of doing whatever they want,” Aguilar recently told Sherdog.com. “They will find me the competition that I need, and I trust them. All I’m going to focus on is training. Whomever they decide to challenge me with, that’s what I’ll do. I’m a fighter. I don’t pick fights. I like to challenge myself, and I like to fight the best. I will keep proving in the WSOF cage who the best in the world is.”
A Bellator tournament veteran, the 115-pound ace received her release from the Viacom-owned promotion this past August when the organization folded its women’s division. While her Bellator colleagues Jessica Eye and Felice Herrig quickly signed with the UFC and Invicta, respectively, Aguilar said she fielded offers from several organizations before finally settling on WSOF.
“I was talking to different promotions, including Invicta. That was the one I was going for because they have all the women there,” said Aguilar. “I wanted to be a part of that, because I didn’t see any other opportunity elsewhere. I think Shannon [Knapp] and Invicta were preparing for this December card, and we lost touch a little bit. One thing led to another, and I went to the WSOF event here in Miami, and I spoke to them. They were interested, and it happened really quickly. I’m really happy in my decision. They believed in me, and they made it happen.”
Though her dialogue with Invicta stalled following her Bellator release, Aguilar said she harbors no ill will toward the organization and is encouraged by the myriad opportunities being given to female mixed martial artists across the board.
“Everything happens for a reason, and I was at the right place at the right time. That doesn’t mean that I won’t support Shannon [Knapp] and Invicta. We have a good relationship, and I will always support them. In fact, I’ll be cornering my teammate, Tecia Torres, at their upcoming show. I’ll do anything I can to support Invicta and the girls. I’m happy to see all these girls in the UFC and Invicta and everywhere that they are getting the recognition they should. They’re living their dream, and the WSOF is giving me that opportunity.”
“Jag” last competed on Oct. 5 under the Vale Tudo Japan banner, earning a technical decision over the retiring Megumi Fujii in a rematch of their May 2012 Bellator encounter. Though the rematch ended under less-than-ideal circumstances after Fujii received a pair of accidental eye-pokes, Aguilar was nevertheless grateful for the opportunity to compete against the Japanese veteran in her final outing.
“She is my legend. It was an honor just for [Fujii] to choose me to be in her retirement bout, and I was able to have my mother with me on that trip. That was her first time at any of my [fights], which was huge for me. I wanted to take her to Japan, because the fans are so respectful.
“It was pretty cool that I had the opportunity to retire her and have her father say that they were passing the torch to me and that all I had to do was never quit,” Aguilar continued. “I didn’t like the way it ended -- with the eye-pokes -- but I believe deep inside that I would have still won if that hadn’t happened. It was an honor to fight my idol and such a legend like Megumi in front of such great fans and in such a great promotion.”