By Roger Cleaveland, Republican-American
These days there is clearly a difference in Prospect mixed martial arts fighter Jessy Miele, and that change is the kind that can transform a solid career into a great one.
The 35-year-old multimedia director for Post University has developed a newfound confidence, and as good fortune would have it, her change in attitude coincides with the biggest opportunity of her MMA career.
Friday night, Miele is fighting in the co-main event of Bellator 244 at Mohegan Sun Arena. No fans are allowed but the bout will be televised on the Paramount network (formerly SPIKE TV) with main card coverage set to broadcast at 10 p.m. Miele’s fight is the third of the main card meaning she should be on by approximately 10:45 p.m.
Her opponent is Julia Budd, the former champion and current No. 4 ranked fighter in the sport’s toughest women’s class, the 145-pound featherweight division. Budd’s only three losses are to arguably the three biggest names in women’s MMA: Rhonda Rousey, Amanda Nunes and current champion Cris Cyborg.
If Miele, 9-3 and ranked No. 15 in the world by Tapology.com, can beat Budd it could vault her into the mix with the most prominent women’s fighters in the world.
“Absolutely,” Miele said. “WHEN I beat her, then people can see I can get to that next level. I haven’t fought any of those (elite) fighters so no one can compare me to any of them yet. But they are going to have a chance to start comparing me now after I win.”
She said her confidence stems from the fact that she is a jack of all trades within the sport. She often trains twice per day at different gyms — Waterbury’s IMB Academy, West Hartford’s Underdog MMA and Wallingford’s Triton Athletics — to incorporate all the necessary mental and physical conditioning with skill development.
“My training in general from my coach Chris Smith from Waterbury and Russell Leak in West Hartford and all my training partners have prepared me for this moment,” Miele said. “I have been doing it for so long, and they keep saying, ‘Jess just believe in yourself. You have it. You know how to do it.’ I have gotten to that point where I am believing in myself now.”
Miele began fighting in the amateur ranks 11 years ago and has been fighting professionally since 2014. She’s won each of her last four bouts with her last loss coming four years ago. She believes she is ready for the biggest challenge of her career.
She was supposed to fight in March, but the bout was canceled due to COVID concerns. Since then she has been training hard, first at home with equipment she borrowed from friends and family or rented from gyms, and since late June she’s been back in the gym.
“I’m getting better as a mixed martial artist every single day, whether it be mentally or physically,” Miele said. “I feel healthy. I feel happy, and I feel I can defender myself better than ever.”
The black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu said she enjoys training in boxing, wrestling as well as other martial arts disciplines such as Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kun Do and Filipino Martial Arts. She considers herself a well-rounded athlete having played soccer, softball and indoor track in high school and rugby at an All-New England level in college at UMass.
Combine that athleticism with a much more confident attitude, and she’s ready to step up to the big time.
“I would say this fight is a big break, but I worked hard to get here,” Miele said. “In a lot of my beginning fights I was executing, winning and doing what I showed up to do, but there wasn’t a lot of video footage or publicity out there. I just kept working hard, and now I am fighting the four-time Bellator champ in my home state.
“I have a game plan, and I am going to execute that game plan. As long as I do what I know I can do, everything is going to work out the way it is supposed to. I am going to show the world what I can do now. Absolutely, this is definitely going to change my career.”