Just one week after Invicta FC was forced to take down the pay wall for its online pay-per-view (PPV) because of streaming issues, the all-female mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion has now assigned the contracts of 11 Strawweight standouts to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
During a conference call to promote UFC on Fox 9 this weekend, UFC President Dana White announced that the field of female fighters will take part in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 and compete in the tournament-style format to become UFC's first-ever 115-pound queen pin.
TUF 20, which is set to begin in May 2014, will comprise the first-ever all-female cast in the history of the UFC "reality" show franchise. The new found emphasis on the reality series comes on the heels of a sub par TUF 18 that featured women's Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and her arch rival Miesha Tate as coaches.
The final five TUF 20 roster spots (show has 16 contestants) will likely be filled in upcoming open tryouts.
Don't bank on the show being coached by women, too, though, according to White (via MMAFighting.com):
"The landscape changes quickly. We'll figure out who will coach them as we get closer to the date. More than likely it will probably be men, but it could be women."
In addition White revealed the names of the women coming over from Invicta, including current Invicta champion Carla Esparza, Alex Chambers, Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Bec Hyatt, Emily Kagan, Juiliana Lima, Rose Namajunas, Tecia Torres, Paige Van Zant and Joanne Caldwerood.
With Invicta's recent issues, it may seem to some as if the independent promotion is attempting to cut losses. However, White emphasized this is not the case and that the Zuffa-owned company has no interest in purchasing Invicta.
Invicta, on the other hand, is a different story:
"When we've gone in and acquired companies, they were companies that were dying. They were in the hole millions and millions of dollars. The guys who invested in it needed to be rescued and we saw value in the companies. Those were the companies we purchased. Invicta is an up-and-coming organization that deals in just women. Buying it wouldn't do the sport any good or wouldn't do anybody any good. There's no sense in buying a company that is still growing and still prospering."
Tentatively, FOX Sports 1 would begin taping TUF 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the second quarter of 2014, putting the strawweight female fighters on track to crack the Octagon mid-year.