UFC adds 11 female strawweights

December 12, 2013
Ronda Rousey was signed and made champion in late 2012 © Getty Images

The UFC has acquired the contracts of 11 female strawweight fighters from Invicta FC and will introduce the weight class next year on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series.

UFC president Dana White announced the move during a media conference call on Wednesday. The promotion has added two female divisions in the span of about one year, as bantamweight Ronda Rousey was signed and made champion in late 2012.

A total of 16 strawweights will comprise the first all-female TUF cast. In its most recent season, half the cast was female, with an additional male bracket. The all-female season will start filming May 18 in Las Vegas.

"The women's division has been very successful for us," White said. "Fans like it. I'm thrilled with it. We're going to dive into the 115-pound division."

The TUF season finale will produce the inaugural champion of the strawweight division, a first for the reality series. Coaches have not yet been assigned, although White hinted they likely would be male UFC fighters.

Among the 11 women already signed to the UFC is Invicta champ Carla Esparza. Additionally, the UFC signed Joanne Calderwood, Alex Chambers, Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Bec Hyatt, Emily Kagan, Juliana Carneiro Lima, Rose Namajunas, Tecia Torres and Paige VanZant.

It will become the 10th weight class promoted by the UFC.

White said the depth of the 115-pound weight class made it an attractive addition to the UFC.

"The fact this 115-pound division has such depth, that's what we look for," White said. "We look for talent and we look for depth, and this one had it."

According to White, Invicta intends to rebuild its 115-pound division. He said the UFC will continue to work with the all-female promotion and has no intention of purchasing the company.

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