We knew this would be coming, the UFC was starting a strawweight division and many of the fighters would be coming from Invicta. What we didn't know, was when. And I doubt that anyone had expected how. On Wednesday the UFC announced via it's official Twitter account that it had acquired 11 strawweight contracts from Invicta and would be running an Ultimate Fighter season starting in May with the eventual winner being crowned the first UFC 115 lb champion.
In May, those 11 strawweights will compete on season 20 of TUF; the winner of the season will become the UFC strawweight champion— UFC (@ufc) December 12, 2013
The fighters, via Dave Doyle:
Tecia Torres, Paige Van Zandt, Joanne Calderwood. Apologies if there are any misspellings there.— Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) December 12, 2013
That's a hell of a list, and I expect there will be more names to add in the coming months as the show won't be for another few months and 11 is hardly a tournament number. I'm also fascinated by the language of that first tweet. What does it mean that these contracts have been assigned? Will all of these women go to the UFC are they still Invicta fighters? A follow up tweet from the UFC seemed to suggest more strongly that they were a permanent part of the roster. I'm sure more details will be out soon.
It's an interesting idea to have a TUF tournament to decide the eventual UFC champion. On the one hand it provides some importance to a show that badly needs the stakes to be raised, but on the other hand it seems a bit circus-ish to have top contenders compete on a reality show for an actual sporting accomplishment. It'd be sort of like putting the NFL playoffs on Survivor and the teams would have to complete obstacle courses as part of their road to the Super Bowl...
Eventually it's still a good way to get a lot of new fighters into the UFC at once, and to clear up a title picture that is, quite honestly, cloudy. Esparza has done little to set herself apart as the reigning champion at Invicta and has now had two title defenses scrapped. With fighters like Gadelha, Calderwood, and Torres in the wings a chance to prove which of them is the best in the world seems pretty necessary. What do you think, will you be watching the strawweights on TUF now that the title is on the line?
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