It’s not yet known when exactly the UFC will announce a women’s flyweight division, but all the signs suggest an announcement – a proper announcement – is imminent.
A press release issued by UFC public relations to media on Wednesday confirmed that The Ultimate Fighter 26 tryouts for 125-pound female flyweights would be held on May 23 in Las Vegas, the eventual aim of which was to crown the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion.
“Women’s flyweights between the ages of 21-34 with a winning record and at least three professional fights are invited to attend the open casting call in Las Vegas,” the release said. “The season will also be open to females on the current UFC roster that can successfully make 125-pounds throughout the duration of the season.”
This press release, however, was reportedly sent prematurely, as confirmed by Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, and though the TUF 26 idea is being floated, it has yet to be set in stone.
Still, no smoke without fire and all that. Watch this space.
One fighter who may well soon appear in an Octagon near you, only not as a flyweight, is Aspen Ladd. The talented 22-year-old has long been linked with a move to the UFC, but yesterday delivered the clearest hint yet that something could be afoot. Posting on social media, she wrote…
I want to thank @shanknapp @kaitlin_young @julesk_fighter & Angie Lindland along with the entire @InvictaFights crew for the great years 🙏 pic.twitter.com/95VhCP7pVe
— Aspen Ladd (@TheAspenLadd) May 3, 2017
Though Ladd has flitted between bantamweight and flyweight throughout her five-fight MMA career, she confirmed to Fighters Only Editor Michael Owens that her natural habitat going forward will be 135-pounds.
“I started fighting when I was barely eighteen,” she said. “I was very scrawny and barely had to cut weight at all. I only walked around at maybe 130lbs. As I got older and started working with an incredible strength and conditioning coach, I started putting on a lot more muscle and started to change. Now I can’t physically make 125 any more. It was getting harder and harder and with the new regulations on IVs it just became more and more pointless for me. I’m a natural ’35er. To add to that, my goal has always been to get to the UFC and they never brought in the ’25 weight class. Besides the fact it was getting borderline dangerous for me at 25, my goal was to get to the next step. I’m a natural ’35er and there’s more opportunity at that weight class, so it’s perfect.”
Ladd’s next move has yet to be revealed but it doesn’t take a genius to guess where she’ll likely end up. It is her “goal”, after all.
Regardless, she’s thankful for the platform Invicta has provided since February 2015, the time of her pro MMA debut, and seems about ready to make the jump.
“The Invicta belt has never truly been my goal,” she said. “Most of the time you win the belt and there’s a clause which means you’re locked in for the next two or three fights. My goal has always been to build myself, build my record and gain experience and exposure in Invicta. It’s fantastic. It’s a great place for a female athlete and (Shannon) Knapp is very caring and wants to further your career.”