Sure, you could look at Jessica Aguilar’s fight tape, the fact that she hasn’t lost for nearly four years, career-defining victories over legends or her World Series of Fighting (WSOF) straw weight world title and get a sense of just how good the American Top Team fighter is. Or, you could spend five minutes with her.
That’s about how long it takes to realize that the MMA fighter has a true champion’s mentality. Cagewriter sat down with Aguilar this week as she prepared to defend her WSOF belt against Emi Fujino for what we thought would be a casual conversation.
About thirty seconds into our questions, however, Aguilar took lighthearted exception with some of our phrasing. Without much thought, we mentioned that Aguilar is almost unanimously considered to be the best female straw weight fighter in the world, and that did it.
“What do you mean almost unanimously?” she exclaimed, incredulously.
“Who has anyone else ranked as number one? Who else could be ranked above me?”
That’s perhaps half of Aguilar’s champion attitude. There are no small things to champions, be they training tasks or designations hard-fought for.
It takes audaciousness to be a champion. It takes single-minded and passionate work fueled by one’s for your work and belief in self that borders on arrogance to convince someone they can make a living fighting others in a ring or cage.
Aguilar has that audacity in spades.
She’s also got the humility that the true greats balance, seemingly paradoxically, with that confidence. Champions are confident, sure, but true confidence comes from knowing that your skills and reflexes have been tempered in the white-hot heat of training and battle, time and again.
It also takes humility for a fighter to realize that they need to continue to do the daily grunt work in order to improve their skills and maintain their status. Jessica Aguilar knows that she’s the best straw weight in the world, because she’s worked for it.
Perhaps that’s why Aguilar was excited, not threatened, when she heard that the UFC was instituting their own straw eight division, to be effectively kick-started by an upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter.
That season will crown a champion for the promotion. Though the UFC women will undoubtedly receive more attention than Aguilar will, as a part of the young WSOF organization, the champ is happy for every one of her would-be rivals.
“I’m stoked for them,” she says.
“I want everyone to do well, if they can. Just because I have goals for myself doesn’t mean that I don’t want anyone else to succeed in life. This means more opportunities for everyone, and that’s a good thing.”
Aguilar sees herself as a leader and example for young girls to even other professional fighters. “ I want to show that you can do it,” she explains.
“I just started this eight and a half years ago. I want to tell girls who may not have even started Jiu Jitsu class yet, if I’m here, just eight and a half years after my first class, you can do it, too.”
With that attitude, Aguilar displays a maturity and benevolence about as impressive as her nasty arm-triangle choke. Still, she’s a fighter, and one with an important bout tomorrow.
Should she walk away with her WSOF belt as she plans, Aguilar wants the MMA-sphere to remember exactly who she is – the best in the world. By the end of this year, the UFC will likely crown their first-ever straw weight champion, but “Jag” says that won’t change who the real champ is.
“When you’re number one, it’s not something that they can take away from you, without beating you,” she says.
“[The UFC champion] may start to get more recognition or credit because the promotion has a bigger voice and machine, but that won’t change what I’ve done or who I am. And, who I am is number one.”