The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been assigned the contracts of 11 female strawweight fighters for the organization, UFC President Dana White said on Wednesday.
The 115-pound women will be part of 20th season ofThe Ultimate Fighter in May 2014, White said. The season winner will be crowned the first UFC women’s strawweight champion.
“The women’s 135-pound division in the UFC has been amazing and we know there are a ton of talented women’s mixed martial artists out there,” White said in a statement. “Now, you’ll see even more great women’s bouts in the UFC with the addition of the 115-pound division. We’re excited to crown the first-ever UFC women’s strawweight champion in 2014 after a historic season of The Ultimate Fighter.”
The fighters signed thus far all came from women’s MMA organization Invicta FC, and include Invicta champion Carla Esparza, Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Joanne Calderwood, Tecia Torres, Rose Namajunas, Bec Hyatt, Emily Kagan, Alex Chambers, Julianna Lima, and Paige Van Zant.
The newly assigned fighters will be part of the first all-women’s season of The Ultimate Fighter. White said the remaining spots on the show will be filled with an open tryout. Coaches for the show’s 20th season have not yet been determined, but will likely be men, according to White.
The fighters in the new division will not compete before next May, White said, allowing them to be healthy for the upcoming TUF season.
(Follow @Erik_Fontanez | Photo by Esther Lin)