bellator-84 After weeks of rumors, the UFC yesterday officially announced the introduction of the women’s strawweight (115 lbs) division to the biggest MMA promotion in the world. UFC president Dana White, who broke the news via media conference call, revealed that Invicta FC has assigned 11 fighters to the UFC, and a total of 16 strawweights will compete on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter.┬áThe winner of that season will be crowned as the new UFC women’s strawweight champion. These are the 11 women strawweights signed by the UFC:

  • Carla Esparza
  • Felice Herrig
  • Claudia Gadelha
  • Tecia Torres
  • Rose Namajunas
  • Alex Chambers
  • Bec Hyatt
  • Paige VanZant
  • Julianna Lima
  • Joanne Calderwood
  • Emily Kagan

As for the remaining five spots in the TUF house, they will go to the five women selected by UFC matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby at the open tryouts, which will take place early next year in Las Vegas. This is obviously tremendous news for all of the women involved, as they will now get a chance to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and make considerably more money than they ever have in their careers before, but it makes me wonder what will happen to Invicta FC. After being gutted of its best strawweights, Invicta FC owner and president Shannon Knapp said that the all-women’s promotion will continue to hold fights in the 115 lbs division and develop new talent, but I honestly can’t see them creating any stars from the so-called “leftovers” of 115 after the UFC poached the cream of the crop. And that’s why I have mixed feelings about this news. Although it will be great to see all of these women in the Octagon, at the same time there was something that was very special about Invicta FC housing most of the elite women athletes in the world, and I feel like now things won’t be so special anymore. I also feel like Esparza is being hosed. She won the Invicta FC strawweight championship earlier this year after dominating Bec Hyatt over the course of five rounds with her power wrestling, and now she’ll have to enter the TUF house, beat a few more women, and attempt to earn that title again. Yes, when Ronda Rousey and the 135 lb fighters were brought over from Strikeforce last year, Rousey was able to keep her title and not have to win it again. That, to me, doesn’t seem fair. As far as the TUF angle goes, I like it, but only to a certain extent, as I believe there will be a number of women — especially Claudia Gadelha — who will have problems making multiple, drastic weight cuts just weeks apart. So there could be a replay scenario of TUF 18, where Cody Bollinger and Anthony Gutierrez couldn’t make weight in the house. Anyways, we’ll see what happens next fall when the show airs, but I’m hoping we do get some drama in the house and that the first all-female season of TUF can reignite a dying brand — but that’s definitely no sure thing.


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