Tomorrow night in Lake Charles, Louisiana, rising star Jessica “Jag” Aguilar will have her wish granted. After years of waiting, Aguilar is set to challenge pound-for-pound standout Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii in a featured bout at 115 pounds on the Bellator Fighting Championships 69 main card.
Aguilar and Fujii had been on a collision course in 2010 before both suffered contentious losses to Bellator champ Zoila Gurgel. Aguilar has the utmost respect for Fujii, a woman whom she refers to as a legend, but knows that the Japanese dynamo stands between her and the top spot at 115 pounds.
Aguilar (13-4-0) joined Fujii (25-1-0) in Bellator’s Season Three 115-pound women’s tournament in 2010 and advanced to the semi-finals with an impressive submission victory over talented striker Lynn Alvarez. Aguilar’s tournament run would end there, however, as she was narrowly defeated by eventual champion Gurgel via a decision that left most onlookers puzzled. One cageside judge scored the fight 30-27 in Aguilar’s favour, while the remaining judges saw the bout very differently and returned cards of 30-27 for Gurgel. A stunned Aguilar was forced to watch from the sidelines as Gurgel went on to win the tournament with another close decision victory over Fujii in the finals.
The disappointing loss only served to motivate Aguilar, who has won four straight fights against some of the top competitors in the strawweight division. After a big victory over Carla Esparza this past June, it appeared that Aguilar would receive a second shot at Gurgel in October. A lingering foot injury forced Aguilar out of the tentative fight, but she made a successful return to action in November by defeating Lisa Ellis and avenging her first professional loss in the process.
Now, Aguilar has her sights set on Fujii and on earning the biggest victory of her career on Friday.
“This fight has more meaning to me than any other fight in my career because I am up against an opponent that I consider a legend in the sport,” Aguilar told MMARising.com on Wednesday. “I want to express my gratitude to Bellator for making this fight happen. I also feel at this point in my career that it is the best fight out there for me.”
Aguilar knows that there is a lot riding on the fight. With Gurgel still recovering from knee surgery, the Aguilar-Fujii showdown will determine the top female fighter at 115 pounds in the champion’s absence. The added pressure is there, but Aguilar welcomes it.
“There is some extra pressure because it is a high profile fight due to our rankings,” she says. “I don’t mean pressure in a negative way, though. It is a motivating factor for me. I want that number one spot.”
Tomorrow’s bout will be contested at 115 pounds, but the future of the weight class in Bellator remains uncertain. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has expressed interest in a 125-pound women’s tournament early next year and has named both Aguilar and Fujii as likely participants. However, Aguilar remains committed to her current weight class.
“115 is my home,” she said when asked about a move up in weight for the tournament. “[I'm] not sure what the future holds, but I feel great at 115.”
Both fighters came in on weight at the official weigh-ins today. Aguilar tipped the scales at 115.6 pounds, while Fujii hit the marks at an even 116.
Aguilar and Fujii face off on the televised Bellator 69 main card tomorrow night from L’Auberge du Lac Casino and Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The event airs live on MTV2 and EPIX in the United States and also streams on Spike.com.