Figuring Out The UFC Women’s Strawweight Division

There really was not a more talented women’s division that the UFC could add the 115 pound strawweight division.  The talent really is strong.  This Thursday the UFC will unveil the entire cast of the Ultimate Fighter 20, which will feature 16 women vying for the inaugural strawweight belt.  Eight of those names are etched in stone.

  • Carla Esparaza
  • Tecia Torres
  • Joanna Calderwood
  • Rose Namajunas
  • Bec Rawlings
  • Felice Herrig
  • Alex Chambers
  • Emily Kagan

I am not reporting the remainder of the cast, but here are the names I am hearing…take it for what it is worth…

  • Jessica Penne
  • Michelle Ould
  • Justine Kish
  • Aisling Daly
  • Randa Markos Thomas
  • Nina Ansaraoff
  • Jennifer Liou

There are also three women who were originally going to be a part of TUF that were forced out.

  • Paige Van Zant
  • Claudia Gadelha
  • Juliana Lima

Van Zant was pulled due to be under 21 while Lima and Gadelha were pulled due in large part to not speaking English.  The UFC has also signed two other female strawweight fighters

  • Tina Lahdemaki
  • Joana Jedrzejczyk

Lahdemaki will be debuting against Claudia Gadelha while Jedrzejczyk will debut against Lima.  I am hearing Van Zant has a fight as well, which means there is at least one additional signing.

While the TUF 20 tournament will determine the first UFC champion, I think UFC is smartly establishing the first contender.  Perhaps a mini eight woman tournament could determine a contender for the TUF winner.  I would also like to see UFC try to position girls that get eliminated in TUF that really may have promise to do well in the division.

As far as who else the UFC should sign, several names come to mind.  I would love to see Mizuki Inoue signed.  The UFC has sought her out already, but a DEEP contract has slowed that.  I expect that when that deal is finished that she will be in the UFC.  I am told the UFC wants her.  A few other names for consideration…

Katja Kankaanpaa is perhaps the most established available female strawweight.  Undefeated Polish fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz is another name high on the list.  Kalinda Faria, Ayaka Hamasaki, Ericka Almeida, Herica Tiburico and Livia Souza are solid names that the UFC could and probably will eventually add.  Stephanie Eggink would make a lot of sense as well.  What if UFC signed a girl from the 105 division?  What if UFC booked Michelle Waterson vs. Paige Van Zant?

Regardless, I am excited about what this division will hold.  The Ultimate Fighter gains new life.  The UFC will gain at least one new female star, and I think there is some serious star potential on the TUF cast.  There is also potential talent on the rise.  With the UFC starting this division more talent will start to come up.  Female flyweights will drop down a weight class.  Female atomweights will go up a weight class.  It should be fun…


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