Jessica Aguilar to end distinguished career in 2020, seeks promotion for final fights
Jessica Aguilar will soon hang up the gloves.
The former WSOF strawweight champion and UFC contender is ready to call it quits after a 14-year career as a professional fighter. Aguilar (20-8 MMA) plans to retire this year, making 2020 the final chapter of her distinguished run in MMA.
“It’s taken a while (to process). I’ve had to sit on this for a while,” Aguilar told MMA Junkie. “Just look at the reality: I’ve been fighting for a long time, my body has gone through a lot.
“I know I’ve still got it and I went through a rough patch, and it’s hard to say. It’s hard to transition and say, ‘Hey, it’s time for retirement. But it’s the truth. It’s reality, and you have to face reality. It sucks, but I had my time, and it’s time for me to use that and pass it along – use what I’ve learned and experienced in the sport to help other female athletes, whether it’s opening up a gym in the future and teaching or speaking to women and sharing what I know. There’s so many things, but it’s time for me to transition.
“It’s not easy, but that’s life. Everything comes to an end. It’s just accepting and going with the flow. I was bitter for a long time, but now I understand. I did it. It’s OK. I can say I was best in the world. I can say I did it and I’ll continue doing martial arts for the rest of my life in some way or form, but everything comes to an end.”
Aguilar no longer is with the UFC. She completed her contract with the Las Vegas-based promotion in early 2019 and currently is a free agent in search of a promotion to host the final bouts of her career.
The 37-year-old said she is open to offers. She wouldn’t turn down a return to the UFC, but also finds interest in returning to Asia – whether it’s with RIZIN or ONE Championship – or fighting in Mexico, since she’s never fought in her birth country.
The Mexican fighter wants to retire with 30 professional fights under her belt, but is open to competing more than twice in 2020 if time and health permit.
“My goal was to have 30 fights, and I’m at 28. So it would be two fights this year, but you know: MMA,” Aguilar said. “So that’s my goal. I would feel comfortable to have 30 fights, but it all depends. There are different factors when it comes to that. When my body is good and in the swing of things, I’ve fought three, four times a year. But my goal is two (more) fights.”
In this latest run, Aguilar hopes to put the rough patch she underwent in the UFC behind her and close out her career on a high note.
Aguilar was regarded as the best strawweight and one of the best overall female fighters in the world after her victories over Megumi Fujii and former Invicta FC and UFC champ Carla Esparza in the early 2010s.
She made her UFC debut in 2015 after she won the WSOF strawweight belt and defended it multiple times. Aguilar was paired against Claudia Gadelha at UFC 190 in Brazil in a title eliminator bout, but lost by unanimous decision.
From there, Aguilar suffered a string of injuries, including a torn ACL, and went 1-3 in the UFC over the course of four years with opposition like current champ Zhang Weili, Courtney Casey and unbeaten Marina Rodriguez.
Despite her difficult UFC run, Aguilar can say with confidence she was once the best fighter at 115 pounds. It’s something she’s proud of and a time she looks back on fondly.
“I think I went like 11 or 12 fights undefeated, so it felt pretty good,” Aguilar said. “I was on a roll, like, ‘Hey, I accomplished what I said I was going to accomplish – be the best in the world.’
“At that time, you were the best by beating the best. (I’m) not trying to knock what’s going on right now. But at that time, it wasn’t about popularity or how you looked or how many eyes you could bring to the table, it was about if you wanted to be the best and you had to beat the best and keep moving up. That’s how it was. It was a huge accomplishment. It was a pretty amazing experience – one of the best in my life.
“You always want better and more and more and more. But looking back at it, for me to start at 24 (with) nothing, people telling me that I wouldn’t make it, to what I did in my career, I think I have to be proud of myself. There are things I can’t control, like injuries, and I understand that and accept it. So I don’t beat myself up for it. I am proud of what I’ve done in my career.”
Aguilar recently competed in grappling tournaments and feels good about coming back to MMA competition. She’s eager to find a new home for the last fights of her career and looks forward to closing out this chapter of her life. She’s said she’s open to fight at atomweight or strawweight.