World Series of Fighting (WSOF) strawweight champion Jessica Aguilar can't be a professional cage fighter.
Speaking with the American Top Team standout and No. 1-ranked women's strawweight in the world, one gets the feeling that she's just too kind to punch somebody in the face. She's bubbly, energetic and giggly, the enthusiastic vibes surrounding her and creating an aura of happiness and positivity.
"I'm a really happy person," Aguilar told Bleacher Report. "But I have my times. I'm only human. I can be a grouch, like if my A/C isn't working or something. I don't like to spread the negatives."
Once the 17-4 fighter's foot connects with the canvas of battle, however, something happens. Something changes.
She slings leather with purpose and hunts for submissions with a relentless, aggressive attitude that has earned her eight victories via tapout, including her most recent masterpiece against Alida Gray to capture the WSOF strawweight title.
That win marked Aguilar's eighth in a row, and she will look to extend that streak to nine against Emi Fujino, a relatively unknown Japanese fighter making her WSOF debut, at WSOF 10 on Saturday, June 21.
"A lot of people don't know her because she's Japanese, and it's sad that a lot of people don't recognize the top talent in Japan," Aguilar said. "I believe in my ground game. Although she's never been submitted, that's my plan."
There was a time, though, when Aguilar was not the dominant, poised and overwhelming fighter she is today. Like former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao, Aguilar began her professional career with a loss, and this defeat pushed her to improve, creating the dominant force that exists today.
Despite going into this fight against Lisa Ellis (now Lisa Ward) with just two months of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training and a five-day fight camp, Aguilar owned up to her mistakes, and she vowed to bounce back from her second-round submission defeat with authority.
"I didn't like the taste of losing and I didn't like not knowing what was going on," Aguilar said. "That's what got me hooked on MMA. I said, 'Nobody's ever going to do that to me again. I'm never going out like that again.' So that's what I did. I joined American Top Team after that fight, which is the best thing I ever did, and here I am."
While Aguilar has lost three times in 20 fights since this debut, all three have come via decision, and controversial ones at that. Always keeping things upbeat and happy, though, Aguilar doesn't dwell on the past. She's looking at the present and the future and is motivated to showcase her full skill set under the WSOF banner.
"WSOF has given me a great platform, and we're fighting on a big network with NBC Sports. Everything they've promised, they're doing," Aguilar said.
But still, the cloud of the world's premier MMA organization hangs overhead. When a fighter on a streak like Aguilar's fights anywhere but the UFC, fans and critics have to wonder how he or she would stack up against the world's finest inside the legendary Octagon.
Aguilar noted that the UFC could be in her future, but right now, she's content fighting Fujino and then finishing out the last two fights on her four-fight contract with the WSOF.
"We'll see what the future holds," Aguilar said. "I'm really excited about all the girls in the UFC and what Dana White is doing for my division. It's amazing. It just shows that there's more opportunity out there for us."
And while her recent blaze through the strawweight division has been impressive to watch, the Mexican-born American combatant sees only improvements and greatness in her future. The next step comes at WSOF 10 in Las Vegas, and Aguilar, with her trademarked exuberance, talked about what we can expect from her on fight night.
"I feel that I'm getting better, but I still haven't reached my prime. That's the great thing about this sport," Aguilar said. "You feel like you never reach your peak. You're always getting better, and each fight I think I'm better, so that's a really cool thing."
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!