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Aspen Ladd is the Signing UFC Bantamweight Division Needed

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Aspen Ladd UFC

Brilliant bantamweight prospect Aspen Ladd appears to be on her way to the UFC. The 22-year-old MMA Gold fighter is exactly what her division needs right now.

A number of sites have reported that Ladd will make her UFC debut against struggling 135 pounder Jessica Eye at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale on July 7. The event takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

MMA Latest’s sources close to the fight remain tight-lipped about the bout, and the UFC have not officially confirmed the booking as yet. However, a formal announcement is expected on Monday.

Aspen Ladd is a verified, undeniable talent with huge upside. After compiling a near-perfect 8-1 amateur record, Ladd made her professional debut inside the Invicta cage in February 2015. Her entire pro career has taken place inside that same six-sided structure.

Ana Carolina Vidal and Amanda Bobby Cooper were dispatched with consummate ease at flyweight before Ladd decided to make the move to 135 pounds. Ten pounds heavier, the performances remained every bit as impressive.

Kelly McGill and Jessica Hoy were unable to survive the full 15 minutes with Ladd. In January at Invicta FC 21, elite grappler Sijara Eubanks was but still wound up on the losing end of a unanimous decision.

Ladd’s mature performances caught the eye long before the UFC came calling. After Fansided’s Riley Kontek included Ladd as one of five bantamweight prospects the UFC should sign in 2017, Bleacher Report’s Scott Harris listed the fighter at number 21 in the site’s top prospects for 2017 list.

“Aspen Ladd is a machine,” wrote Harris about the steely-eyed upstart. Harris went on to close his assessment of the fighter’s ability thus,

“Ladd dictates pace, stays poised and executes her game like someone six or seven years her senior. If she keeps it rolling, Invicta 135 champ Tonya Evinger isn’t that far of a fetch.”

That we will likely never see Ladd fight Invicta’s bad-ass Queen Tonya Evinger is perhaps the only disappointment about her signing with the UFC. Ladd cuts an emotionless figure inside the cage and would have provided the perfect contrast in terms of personality and style opposite Invicta’s reigning bantamweight champion.

And while Harris’ noted admiration of Ladd’s skills is a true reflection of what we have seen in the cage, her ability to perform beyond her age and level of experience is key. In the UFC Ladd will have to execute her game like someone six or seven years her senior, because that is what most of her opponents will be.

The UFC’s female bantamweight division is not packed with young fighters, or even packed with fighters at all. The company only has 25 bantamweights under contract. Ladd would be the 26th.

Of those, only Veronica Macedo (21) and Lucie Pudilova (22) are in their early 20s. Brazilian prospect Ketlen Vieira is 26, while at the top end of the division Julianna Pena is 27, and Amanda Nunes, Katlyn Chookagian and Raquel Pennington are all 28.

Jessica Eye turns 31 less than three weeks after the TUF 25 Finale, almost nine years older than Ladd.

If the division is to remain significant, as it has been through the groundbreaking title reigns of Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes, then emerging talent is required.

The other youngsters signed by the UFC have struggled to hit the ground running. Veronica Macedo could not compete physically in her debut against Ashlee Evans-Smith. Lucie Pudilova came up short in a three round war with Lina Lansberg.

Macedo has time to grow as an athlete, as Pudilova does technically, but neither looked ready to make a dent in the division’s top 15 in the near future. Aspen Ladd might be though.

Aspen Ladd vs Amanda Cooper

Ladd handling Amanda Bobby Cooper at Invicta FC 14

Having gone 1-5 — with one no contest — in her UFC tenure, Jessica Eye is no longer considered a top 15 talent. Yet defeats to Alexis Davis, Miesha Tate, Julianna Pena and Sara McMann come with no shame attached.

Even Eye’s most recent loss against Bethe Correia came via a razor thin decision against one of the weight class’s most improved fighters.

The fact that Eye even remains in the company after losing five of her last six fights shows that the promotion has cut her some slack. The Cleveland, Ohio native remains a great measuring stick and a threat to anyone outside the top ten.

Aspen Ladd can be the future of a division that will soon desperately need one. A win in the bout with Eye is far from a given, and it’s not the sort of walkover that hardcore Invicta fans are billing it as, but it is a winnable debut. Ladd’s calm, composed in-cage nature should set her in good stead for her big-time debut.

If victory is achieved on July 7, Ladd will have moved well ahead of schedule in her ascent to the top. One big win will be all that separates her from a spot in the UFC’s top ten, years before she reaches her full potential.

And if defeat does come against Jessica Eye at the TUF 25 Finale, time remains Ladd’s biggest ally in eventually becoming the best bantamweight in the world.

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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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