Jessica Aguilar is ready to capture WSOF gold. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Jessica Aguilar and Alida Gray will battle over the inaugural World Series of Fighting strawweight title on Saturday night, as the 115-pound talents collide at WSOF 8 live on NBC Sports Network from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
The road Aguilar has traveled to reach this point has been an arduous one, though such effort has thus far yielded impressive results through 20 pro outings. The former Bellator fighter is 16-4 and rides a seven-fight win streak into her WSOF debut.
“It’s been seven and a half years of hard training to get my first world title shot,” Aguilar said during a recent media conference call. “All the hard work and those hours are finally going to pay off.”
While many of her strawweight peers have joined the UFC to participate on “The Ultimate Fighter 20,” Aguilar decided to take her talents to the WSOF after Bellator folded its women’s division last summer. “Jag” said she is confident in her choice and is now looking forward to blazing a path for women inside the WSOF decagon.
“I’m going to give everything I always give and leave everything inside the cage,” said Aguilar. “I’m just excited and grateful. We’re going to mix it up. I’m going to go in there and dance and have fun and show some moves out there.”
Though Gray is a relative unknown in the MMA world, the former Olympic judo alternate said that she is ready for this massive opportunity in spite of the significant leap in competition.
“It hasn’t been overwhelming getting ready for this fight,” said Gray. “I watched Jessica fight before I turned pro. I told my coach I’m ready to take these caliber of fights, and this summer we made the decision that I was going to pro. I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t know my name. She’s out there and she’s well known. She’s No. 1 ranked. But come Jan. 18, people will get to know me.”
Three of Gray’s four victories have come by way of knockout, including a vicious October finish of Soannia Tiem that currently owns nearly 20,000 views on YouTube. With such firepower at her disposal, the 36-year-old may look to keep the fight standing, especially given Aguilar’s strong submission skills.
“I think we’re both very well-rounded fighters. I’ve been practicing my stand-up,” said Gray. “My judo is going to be there naturally. I’m very honored to have been picked for this fight. I’m going to bring the fight to Jessica, and I hope everybody’s ready for this.”
One person surely ready is Aguilar, who will come into the scrap with the added weight of being the bookmakers’ favorite. Meanwhile, Gray relishes the chance to prove those same bookmakers wrong.
“I think my advantage is that I'm the underdog,” said Gray. “I’m going in there with nothing to lose.”