Former UFC women’s bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd was cut from the promotion after failing to make weight on multiple occasions; but don’t cry for her Argentina, because Ladd quickly bounced back with a new deal for PFL MMA.
Ladd, 27, is expected to enter the 2023 featherweight tournament, which carries a grand prize of $1 million. According to her longtime coach, Jim West, Ladd will be competing “at the weight she’s always wanted to be at” under the PFL banner.
“Things didn’t work out [in UFC] and that’s all right,” West told MMA Junkie Radio. “Now she’s moving on to another wonderful opportunity with PFL giving her a platform – essentially the same platform on ESPN – (and) a wonderful show. They’ve been nothing but great to work with. The UFC was (great to work with). PFL now is. And now she gets to be at the weight she’s always wanted to be at, anyway.”
So why didn't Ladd just move up to featherweight while competing in UFC?
“There is no 145-pound weight class – let’s be clear – in the UFC,” West continued. “I know that. The only reason that class is there is because Amanda has the belt. We know for a fact that weight class, as soon as Amanda is done, will no longer exist. Even in the rankings, they don’t even have a ranking for (women’s) 145. I don’t know if the UFC even wants it. They cut Megan Anderson, Felicia Spencer retired. There is no real opportunity there. Aspen missed her weight and they cut her, that’s fine, they had to do what they had to do. But fighting at 145 for Aspen as an opportunity, as a career in the UFC – it wasn’t there.”
The biggest fight in PFL is against undefeated lightweight champion Kayla Harrison, but in order for that matchup to make sense, Ladd would need to sweep the featherweight tournament and hope Harrison (eventually) drops back down to 145 pounds.
Based on how other UFC veterans have fared in PFL, the odds appear to be against her.