Flyweight prospect Jesus Aguilar admits that he may not be the best cook in Mexico, but that hasn’t stopped the owner of Monitos Sushi y Teriyaki from indulging in a passion that doesn’t involve punching someone in the face.
“Honestly, I'm not that good of a cook, but I rather like cooking and I really enjoy eating,” said Aguilar, who still manages to make it to 125 pounds on weigh-in day.
“I have a very good nutritionist to keep me on track,” he laughs.
As for his eatery in Ensenada, that’s another labor of love for Aguilar and his wife.
“I love sushi and Asian dishes, so that's why my wife and I decided to open it,” he said. “We're going on our fifth year in July – it's our family heritage.”
Mixed martial arts hasn’t been bad for the Aguilar family thus far, either, with the 26-year-old racing out to an 8-1 record since turning pro in 2015. Add in a reported 10-0 amateur slate, and Aguilar has been very good for a very long time.
“Thirteen years ago I was invited to a sample class by a great friend, may Alejandro Hernandez rest in peace,” said Aguilar of his late friend. “From there, I could not and did not want to leave MMA – I was hooked. I like boxing, but MMA is my true love.”
Aguilar’s mother wasn’t feeling the love for combat sports for her teenage son, but eventually, she came around.
“She has always supported me,” said Aguilar. “At the beginning, she told me that I should change sports because it was dangerous, but later she understood that this is what I am passionate about. Now, of course, she is very happy. She knows that I am happy with the results and she is always praying for me, which is a great blessing.”
With mom’s blessing and a perfect amateur record, Aguilar expected more smooth sailing as a pro, but then he went and lost his debut via first-round submission to Gabriel Valdez Mendoza.
“Of course, I didn't like losing at all, especially in my hometown of Ensenada, so I decided to move to train with professionals,” he said. “I didn’t doubt myself; I always knew my future would be bright.”
The move led him to Tijuana and Raul Arvizu’s Entram Gym, a place that produced the likes of Brandon Moreno, Marco Polo Reyes, Jose Quinonez, Silvana Gomez Juarez, just to name a few. And as he worked on his craft, he watched his teammates make it to the big show, giving him even more motivation.
“Join wolves and you will learn to howl,” said Aguilar. “Being surrounded by top fighters has been very valuable to me. They inspire me, and we work very hard for our goals.”
Last August, it was Aguilar’s turn, as he was called to face Erisson Ferreira da Silva on Dana White’s Contender Series. At stake? A UFC contract.
“My mission was to win and I had prepared very well,” Aguilar said of his pre-fight mindset. “I knew I had to give it everything I’ve got because it was the biggest opportunity of my career, so there definitely was some pressure. There was pressure to give my best performance and impress Dana White, because I knew that it would change my family’s life if I won. Thank God we came out with the victory and contract.”
At 1:56 of the third round, Aguilar had his submission win and a contract. On Saturday, he breaks it in against unbeaten Japanese prospect Tatsuro Taira.
“He is a tough and well-rounded fighter,” said Aguilar. “It will be an honor to fight him, I like his country and culture, and I respect him a lot.”
And yes, fighting one of the top prospects in the division makes Aguilar the underdog this weekend, but as we’ve seen throughout the history of combat sports, don’t ever count a Mexican fighter out.
“I am very proud to have been born here,” said Aguilar. “I am very strong, mentally and physically, and much of that comes from being a Mexican fighter and my upbringing and culture. I am very excited to fulfill a dream and give my family a better lifestyle because they deserve it. We have worked very hard for this moment, and we are going for that victory whatever it takes. Also, God willing, we’ll take home Fight of the Night.”
UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Spivac took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 4, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!