Ronda Rousey will not be the lone UFC women’s champion for long, Dana White and company plan on pushing the newly announced strawweight division next month. The undefeated Brazilian, Claudia Gadelha, will take on another undefeated competitor in Finland’s, Tina Lahdemaki. The first ever strawweight bout will take place in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 16 at UFC Fight Night, which will be headlined by lightweights, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone versus Jim Miller. The first ever strawweight fight will not decide a champion though. The “TUF 20” reality series will be the first to cast only women on the show, and the winner of the series will be crowned the new champion of the division. Some notable fighters on the cast are Invicta FC strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, along with Felice Herrig, Tecia Torres, and Alex Chambers. The all women cast will be coached by lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis; and his future opponent, Gilbert Melendez.
Claudia Gadelha was scheduled to fight for the Invicta FC strawweight championship against Carla Esparza, before she pulled out due to a broken nose suffered in training. Claudia was also scheduled to join the TUF 20 cast before bowing out, deciding to sign with the UFC outright, she cited a strenuous weight cut that would prohibit her to cut the weight needed to make the 115 lb. limit. Lahdemaki is the lesser known of the two, she has stuck to her home country, Finland, for all five of her career fights. Gadelha has eight finishes in eleven fights, and is arguably the more marketable fighter for the UFC, especially in her home country in Brazil. It sets up a perfect scenario for the Ultimate Fighting Championship if Gadelha were to win her debut in the octagon. The newly crowned strawweight champion would have her first title defense waiting in the wings, a win-win situation for women’s mixed martial arts and the organization.
Ronda Rousey has proven that in the biggest promotion in MMA a woman can succeed, and can succeed at a higher level than any male fighter can. Rousey sets the example, and precedent, of the female fighter at the highest level, the lighter division just has to follow suit. Can either of these two undefeated strawweight fighters make their mark in the division, and aid the growth of women’s MMA throughout each nation? Sure they can. Any one person can do any one thing if that person sets their mind to it. Each new roster addition, along with the supporting cast on The Ultimate Fighter 20, all could hypothetically become one of the next big names entrenched into an ever growing product of women’s fighting. That opportunity debuts in July, and stays open for business until a new champion is crowned. Claudia Galedha and Tina Lahdemaki get the first opportunity to make a lasting impression on the UFC universe worldwide, they both had better make it account for something.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Guardian Liberty Voice Writer leading the coverage in MMA