While the women's strawweight division will comprise the entire TUF 20 cast, culminating in the division's inaugural champion in December, the first official fight in the division will take place in New Jersey in just 2 weeks time. Claudia Gadelha (11-0), one of the top women's 115ers in the world, is scheduled to make her UFC debut alongside 5-0 Finnish fighter Tina Lahdemaki at UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller in Atlantic City.
You would think that with a new season of TUF approaching in September specifically designed to promote the new weight class, a fight like this would at least make the televised preliminary card if not the main card outright. Instead, the UFC's current bout order has Gadelha vs. Lahdemaki as the only prelim bout to be streamed on Fight Pass.
This is a look at the full fight card:
Main Card (FOX Sports 1, 9 PM ET)
Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller
Edson Barboza vs. Evan Dunham
Leonardo Mafra vs. Rick Story
Joe Proctor vs. Justin Salas
John Lineker vs. Alptekin Ozkilic
Lucas Martins vs. Alex White
Preliminary Card (FOX Sports 1, 7 PM ET)
Pat Healy vs. Gleison Tibau
Jessamyn Duke vs. Leslie Smith
Aljamain Sterling vs. Hugo Viana
Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Jerrod Sanders
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 PM ET)
Claudia Gadelha vs. Tina Lahdemaki
Despite losses in their previous respective fights, Jessamyn Duke and Leslie Smith managed a prelim spot, presumably through Duke's presence on TUF 18. Yosdenis Cedeno is also coming off an uninspiring loss to Ernest Chavez yet keeps his televised spot.
Unless the UFC is REALLY pushing the importance of Fight Pass, I can't see what they're trying to accomplish here. Gadelha could conceivably be one of the first title challengers for the first champion and yet she's on Fight Pass? I think a golden opportunity was missed here to showcase a new division as well as tease what's in store for their upcoming season of TUF.
This isn't the end of the world nor the worst decision ever, but I definitely feel that the UFC dropped the ball on this one.