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.
Monday, May 1st I'm going to announce something big 😎#MMAGOLD
— Aspen Ladd (@AspenLaddMMA) April 27, 2017
How excited I am about this summer .. July is gonna be epic ! pic.twitter.com/gXVvzHtjcz
— Jessica Eye (@jessicaevileye) April 27, 2017
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.
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.
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
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