Invicta FC champ Carla Esparza is part of a talented crop of strawweights set to enter the UFC. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has acquired 11 of the world’s best strawweights, whom the organization will showcase during the 20th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” to crown an inaugural 115-pound champion.
UFC officials announced the news on Wednesday evening, revealing that the Las Vegas-based organization has signed Invicta Fighting Championships strawweight queen Carla Esparza, along with 10 additional Invicta talents: Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Joanne Calderwood, Tecia Torres, Rose Namajunas, Bec Hyatt, Emily Kagan, Alex Chambers, Juliana Carneiro Lima and Paige VanZant.
Five more strawweights will join the aforementioned cast based on a tryout to be held next year. Coaches have not yet been announced for “TUF 20,” which begins in May and marks the first-ever season to feature women exclusively.
“The women’s 135-pound division in the UFC has been amazing, and we know there are a ton of talented [female] mixed martial artists out there,” UFC president Dana White said in the official release. “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.’”