The UFC has officially announced their new woman’s strawweight (115lb) division which will be heading to the promotion in 2014.

The new division has been immediately bolstered by the signing of 11 fighters directly from leading female MMA organization Invicta FC.

Leading the pack is Invicta FC champion Carla Esparza (pictured above), along with Alex Chambers, Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Bec Hyatt, Emily Kagan, Juilianna Lima, Rose Namajunas, Tecia Torres, Paige Van Zant, and Joanne Calderwood.

Dana White also revealed that the strawweights will make up the cast of the next season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, with the winner being crowned the UFC’s first ever 115lb champion.

It just goes to show how big of an impact the woman’s bantamweight division has made in the UFC over the course of the past year that the UFC has fast-forwarded their plans to bring in this new division and also to immediately follow up the first season of TUF to feature woman with another one.

Indeed, over the course of TUF 19 there was a trend for the weeks that featured females fighting to have higher ratings than when the men fought, and the season finale, which feaured three female fights on the main card, was the second most watched live UFC event on FOX Sports 1 to date.

At this stage White says they haven’t decided who will coach TUF 20, it’s something they plan to figure out closer to the time, but he hinted that despite the female cast it could actually end up being two male fighters who land that gig.

TUF 20 won’t air until September so the ladies will have a lengthy layoff until then – but the good news is that they won’t have to worry about money during that period. All the fighters have been signed up to a basic contract of $8,000 to show and $8,000 to win (with the exception of current champion Esparza who gets $10,000 and $10,000), and each will be paid their show and win money twice prior to competing on TUF so that they are not out of pocket.

That means each fighter will have earned $32,000 ($40,000 for Esparza) without even having to fight by September of 2014.

All in all it’s another momentous day for woman’s mixed martial arts and confirms that they are not only here to stay in the UFC, but are also going to be an intergral part of the organization too.

A special mention has to go to Invicta FC and it’s president Shannon Knapp who have helped champion the woman’s cause and given them a stable platform to perform on over the past couple of years. While they have just lost a large portion of their roster to the UFC for the second time in their short history it’s likely they will continue on to help nurture the next generation of talent and some of the other female division’s not currently under the UFC’s wing.

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