UFC works to build women’s 115-pound roster!

Apr 30, 2014 Comments Off by

UFC works to build women’s 115-pound roster
Steven Marrocco, USA TODAY Sports 10:59 p.m. EDT April 28, 2014

(Photo: John Morgan, MMAJunkie)

LAS VEGAS — The UFC in July begins filming the first all-female season of its stalwart reality franchise, The Ultimate Fighter, and several notables will vie not only for a contract with the mixed martial arts lead

er, but a title.

“It’s a really cool season,” UFC President Dana White told USA TODAY Sports. “These girls are going to be so fired up, and the girls are way meaner than the men are.”

Half of the 16 spots on the show’s cast for The Ultimate Fighter 20, however, were up for grabs Monday after three announced participants were instead signed to contracts, UFC officials told USA TODAY Sports.

“One didn’t speak English, one couldn’t make the weight, and one was too young,” White said in Las Vegas, where 32 women’s strawweights converged on a local casino hoping to secure one of eight open spots.

“Not only do we need eight more girls, but we also need two alternates,” White added. “What makes this season different than any we’ve ever done is they’ll be fighting for a title, so we have to be fair and make sure they have enough experience. Some of these girls look very, very good.”

The UFC this week expects to finalize the roster for the show, which serves as the introduction of the women’s strawweight division (115 pounds) to the UFC. For the first time, it also will crown a champion at its conclusion in December in Las Vegas.

Currently, the women’s bantamweight division, led by champ Ronda Rousey, is the UFC’s only women’s weight class. Based on Rousey’s smashing success, and a need to fill an ever-growing slate of fight cards, the promotion in December announced the addition of the 115-pound class, bringing to 10 the weight classes featured in the octagon.

Behind the scenes at 115-pound tryouts

UFC president Dana White and bantamweight fighter Miesha Tate talk about the women who gave it their all for a shot to be on “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Among those at the tryout was former Invicta FC atomweight champ Jessica Penne, who would move up from the 105-pound division. “I’m really happy and excited to be here,” said Penne, who lost her title a year ago, but rebounded in July with a first-round submission win. “I hope to be a part of the next season.”

Invicta and Bellator MMA vets Lisa Ellis, Aisling Daly and Michelle Ould also auditioned for UFC execs, as well as the undefeated Justine Kish, who trains out of Black House, a gym affiliated with ex-middleweight champ Anderson Silva.

Already set to participate in the reality show tournament are Carla Esparza, Alex Chambers, Felice Herrig (9-5), Bec Hyatt (5-3), Emily Kagan (3-1) Rose Namajunas (2-1), Tecia Torres (4-0), and Joanne Calderwood (8-0).

Meanwhile, Claudia Gadelha, Juliana Lima (6-1) and Paige VanZant (3-1) will bypass the show and proceed straight to the UFC. Officials said fans can expect to see strawweight fights even before the conclusion of TUF 20, so the new champ should have a contender waiting for her.

John Morgan contributed to this report from Las Vegas. Morgan and Marrocco write for MMAJunkie



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