UFC Fight Night 131 kicks off this Friday, June 1st at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, New York. Utica will be witness to two WMMA fights that night: Sijara Eubanks vs Lauren Murphy in the Flyweight division bout on the preliminary card airing on FS1 and Jodie Esquibel vs Jessica Aguilar in the strawweight division on the preliminary card airing on UFC Fight Pass. Esquibel, a pioneer of women’s mixed martial arts will be taking on Aguilar in what may be a fight to remain in the UFC.
Jodie Esquibel is a 32-year-old fighter in the strawweight division hailing out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She currently holds a 6-3 record. Though she has lost to UFC veterans Alexa Grasso and Alex Chambers, she boasts victories over Jinh Yu Frey and DeAnna Bennett. Her strength and leadership extends beyond the ring. She has a Bachelor’s in Emergency Medicine, she was a firefighter and paramedic for seven years and is currently a team leader for a company that provides medic coverage for state SWAT police. It’s safe to say that Esquibel is they type of person who thrives in high pressure situations and has the ability to make quick decisions in life or death situations.
Having started mixed martial arts at the age of 15 one of her inspirations is world renowned boxer, Muhammad Ali. She is quoted as saying “I would like to meet Muhammad Ali, he’s the greatest of all time,” When asked in an interview who she would like to meet, anyone living or dead before her fight with Nicdali Rivera-Calonoc at Invicta FC 9. (link to youtube video) However the heroes she holds to the highest esteem are the first responders, the men and women of the armed forces, and her parents.
Jessica “Jag” Aguilar is a 36-year-old fighter in the strawweight division born in Austin, Texas and fighting out of Cocunut Beach, Florida. Aguilar almost stumbled into MMA by accident. In 2006 she was offered a fight a week before the event and on a whim she took it. 12 years later she is looked on as a pioneer in women’s mixed martial arts and she feels personally proud to be fighting for the UFC, “an organization that once said they would never have females fighting in their show.”
In a pre weigh-in interview before her championship bout against Emi Fujino during WSOF 10 in 2017, she was asked about the UFC’s decision to open a strawweight division and crown a would crown a champion that would most likely be considered to be the best in the world. Aguilar responded, “Nobody can take away from me what I’ve done with my career…I’ve fought the best, I’ve beat the best.” Aguilar would go on to defend her WSOF belt and retain her number 1 women’s strawweight ranking in the world until she came up against Courtney Casey in her UFC d May 2017. After losing to Courtney via unanimous decision, Aguilar would fall to number 12.
It may be hard to believe that with a record like Aguilar’s (19-6) that her future in the UFC may hinge on this one fight. But she has had a tough two matches since being signed to the organization, losing both by unanimous decisions. In her first UFC fight against Claudia Gadelha, Aguilar came out strong at first, but Gadelha opened her up with a series of combinations punctuated by uppercuts that Aguilar was almost defenseless against. After taking time off for injuries, she was given another fight, this time against Courtney Casey, and while Aguilar seemed to improve her strengths, her weakness was exploited again when Casey barraged her with combinations throughout the fight.
Esquibel has had one fight in the UFC when she faced Karolina Kowalkiewicz in October of 2017. Esquibel’s match was similar to Aguilar’s in that it was mostly a one sided beating. Esquibel could only pin Karolina to the cage a couple times to relieve some of the onslaught, but Karolina continued to break free and unleash fury on Esquibel. Esquibel also lost via unanimous decision.
No matter who wins this bout, this is bound to be a ferocious match of hungry fighters desperate to prove themselves to be the contenders that they, and indeed the world, know them to be. The winner of this match will have to go on to win against a top contender to cement themselves among the top ranked female fighters of the world.