(Well, it was fun while it lasted. / Photo via InvictaFC)
On Wednesday evening, the UFC officially announced the launch of its 115-pound women’s division, after acquiring the contracts of 11 top strawweight fighters from Invicta FC: Carla Esparza, Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Joanne Calderwood, Tecia Torres, Rose Namajunas, Bec Hyatt, Emily Kagan, Alex Chambers, Juliana Lima, and Paige Van Zant.
Those fighters (along with five more strawweights to be named later) will compete on the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter, which begins filming in May 2014. The winner of the season will become the UFC’s inaugural strawweight champion. Coaches for the season haven’t been named yet.
As for Invicta FC, company president Shannon Knapp has put on a happy face and explained that Invicta’s strawweight division will carry on without its 11 best fighters, which seems kind of depressing. But her promotion has had a good working relationship with the UFC since the beginning, and that’s not going to change.
At this point, you probably have a lot of burning questions racing through your heads, so we’ve put together a helpful FAQ to answer some of the major ones…
Q: Does this mean that CagePotato’s sponsorship of Rose Namajunas is effectively over?
A: Yeah, pretty much. But we wish Rose the best with the bigger, fancier sponsors that she’ll be snapping up next year. JUST TREAT HER RIGHT, BRO.
Q: I haven’t watched TUF since the Brock Lesnar season. (Chicken shit, chicken salad, good times.) Why can’t the UFC just start putting these women on upcoming fight cards? Like, they could re-book Gadelha vs. Esparza for the inaugural strawweight title on a FOX Sports 1 show or something. You know what I mean?
A: I do know what you mean, and the answer is that the UFC still holds the antiquated belief that The Ultimate Fighter builds stars and people enjoy watching it. That hasn’t been true for a long time, and the worst part is that some great strawweight fighters will probably never officially make it into the Octagon because they lose their first fight on TUF. That could happen to any of these 11 women, considering how talented they are as a group.
Still, let’s put the criticism in perspective — if Invicta threw together a 12-week Strawweight Grand Prix featuring Rose Namajunas, Felice Herrig, Bec Hyatt, Claudia Gadelha, Joanne Calderwood, Paige Van Zant, Tecia Torres, and Carla Esparza, we’d all think it was the most badass thing ever. Well, at least ReX and I would. (And Eric Holden, obviously.) At the very least, we expect some fun televised hijinx from the more colorful members of the cast.
Q: Will CagePotato be doing episode recaps for this season?
A: Most likely, we will follow the TUF 18 format of doing full recaps for the first half of the season, then getting bored and just throwing up video highlights for the rest of the season when it becomes clear that none of our readers care anymore.
Q: Does time-travel exist? And if so, can I use it to skip past TUF 19 entirely?
A: Funny story. When I was abducted by those aliens last year, they showed me an advanced kind of DVR, which they used to skip ahead to future seasons of any television show beamed in from Earth. (They called it a “skipper,” which in their cute alien accents sounded like “skeepuh.”) So yes, the technology exists. Is it worth getting your orifices probed, just to see how Mad Men ends? Absolutely.