There is still a lot of us still wrapping our heads around the epic announcement of “The Ultimate Fighter 20″ and the acquisition of 11 fighters from Invicta. Strangely enough, a guy on the Underground Forums had predicted this back in October (Jessica Aguilar won’t be a part of the cast, however), and nope, we didn’t post it.
We have been bombarded with questions about TUF 20 and the future of Invicta’s 115 division. Here are most of your questions answered in one article.
What We Know
The UFC purchased the contracts of 11 strawweights from Invicta. The fighters are Carla Esparza (9-2; InvictaFC champion), Claudia Gadelha (11-0), Felice Herrig (9-5), Joanne Calderwood (8-0), Tecia Torres (4-0), Rose Namajunas (2-1), Bec Hyatt (5-2), Emily Kagan (3-1), Alex Chambers (4-1), Julianna Lima (6-1), and Paige Van Zant (3-1). The amount Invicta is getting is not disclosed.
The series will start filming in May and air in the fall of 2014.
Since the fighters will be out of action for six months to assure they won’t get injured, they are being paid. Ten of the eleven will be getting $32,000 and Carla Esparza will be getting $40,000 before even go on the show. These will be paid in installments just in case someone gets injured.
The winner will not only be “The Ultimate Fighter”, but will become the strawweight champion; making it the first time TUF will be used as a title tournament.
Speaking of Esparza, her Invicta title is now vacant. No word on how a new champion will be crowned.
Eight 115ers were not signed - Ashley Cummins, Kathina Catron, Jasminka Cive, Livia Von Pletenberg, Katja Kankaanpaa, Mizuki Inoue, Ayaka Hamasaki, and Norma Center. Inoue will be competing for the vacant DEEP-JEWELS 115 title in February.
What We Think
Many were asking us on the timeline of the tryouts. The UFC didn’t give us a date, but we are thinking it will be late March or early April.
We won’t be surprised if Fox Sports 1 put up some of the money for the contracts, as with the success of TUF 18′s female fights, they were probably pushing for an all female season. The ratings for the female fights were between 670,000-765,000 viewers during the season.
UFC champ Ronda Rousey will most likely not be a coach on the show, considering her bad experience on TUF 18.
Invicta will probably not crown a new strawweight champ until after the TUF tryouts. The obvious way is for the highest ranked females left to square off; which would be Katja Kankaanpää and Ayaka Hamsaki, but Shannon Knapp told us that any strawweight will be able to get their hands on the title.
What to Expect
Among those who stated who will be at the TUF tryouts are Lisa Ellis, Jessica Philippus, Cassie Rodish, Amber Stratzenberger, Ashley Cummins, Brianna Van Buren, Jordan Gaza, Amy Cadwell, Nina Ansaroff, Stephanie Skinner, Cassie Robb, Jordan Gaza, Glena Avila, and Randa Thomas. We expect that list to increase.
Among those who won’t be is world #1 Jessica Aguilar and Stephanie Eggink, who have iron clad contracts with World Series of Fighter and XFC respectively. UFC’s Rosi Sexton might have dropped to 115 to join the cast, but she is out with a neck injury for six months.
We can expect international fighters to try out. Mei Yamaguchi (Japan), Claire Fryer (Australia), Kinberly Novaes (Brazil), and Karolina Kowalkiewicz (Poland) would be good candidates for the show and would be fun to watch try out.
Interesting for us to see if the five spots will be determined by ten “Get in the House” fights. The UFC hasn’t stated either way, but if they do get a lot of fighters trying out we won’t be surprised if this is the case.
Even though a good portion of the Invicta strawweights are gone, expect a lot of strawweights to fill the void. Many amateurs may pull the trigger and turn pro before the TUF tryouts, because the UFC will most likely require at least one pro fight.
With only 5 spots up for grabs, a few dozen strawweights won’t make it to the TUF house. The prime talent that doesn’t make will most likely go to Invicta.
Other divisions will gain more opportunities to develop as well. The atomweights, who seem to be neglected as of late, will have more opprotunity to develop a challenger for champion Michelle Waterson. Word is getting around that DEEP-JEWELS champ Seo Hee Ham will be the next challenger.
The flyweight division is needing to develop a contender for champion Barb Honchak, and the bantamweights for champion Lauren Murphy. We can expect a lot of new fighters to be signed overall.
As for the show itself, it would be interesting since most of the fighters know each other. Storylines include former champion Carla Esparza and her best friend Felice Herrig and their possible feud with Tecia Torres; Joanne Calderwood dominate and undefeated streak in the division; will Claudia Gadhela keep weight for six weeks, and most importantly, who will be the coaches. The UFC is hinting male coaches, but we personally like the idea of Alexis Davis and Jessica Eye.
With the cast they already have, expect the show to do better than TUF 18 in terms of ratings. With all the early hype and six months to promote, it would be a wild ride.