Women’s MMA pioneer Jessica Aguilar has mixed feelings about her return to fighting, and it’s not toward the sport.
The former WSOF champion and UFC and Bellator veteran fights Sunday in RIZIN FF’s women’s an atomweight grand prix. Aguilar (20-9) takes on the promotion’s former champion, Ayaka Hamasaki, in the opening round of the tournament.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Aguilar told reporters at RIZIN FF 37 media day on Friday. “But these are the fights that the MMA fans want, so we’re going to give them a great show, and this is business, and after Sunday we can go and have a beer together. But no hard feelings, no bad feelings toward the team. Nothing but respect.”
Although this is the first time that Aguilar is fighting Hamasaki, she does have plenty of history with her team.
Hamasaki is a student of Megumi Fujii, who fought Aguilar twice during the prime of their careers back in 2012 and 2013. Aguilar defeated the Japanese star on both occasions, and the pair of wins had many labeling Aguilar as the best female strawweight at the time.
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Aguilar hopes to win the tournament and take home the $51,000 prize. She did a lengthy camp with some of the biggest names in women’s MMA.
“So the beginning of my camp I started in Denver, Colorado, training with Tecia Torres and Rose Namajunas,” Aguilar said. “I helped Tecia Torres train for her fight (against Mackenzie Dern). The second part I finished in Puebla, Mexico with Brazilian Warriors. I trained with Alexa Grasso out there, and it was a great camp. I’m super prepared and excited for Sunday.”
The bout against Hamasaki marks Aguilar’s 30th professional fight. She’s also nearing her 20th year as a pro. The Mexican fighter, now 40, feels strong and has no intention of retiring any time soon.
“They say that life begins at 40, so just as long as my body holds up,” Aguilar said. “I’m still in love with the sport like when I began. So I don’t know, I’ll go for another 10 years. Why not? I’ll be the first female fighting at 50. Let’s go.”