As the promotion prepares for its inaugural Women’s Bantamweight Grand Prix on January 30th, Freestyle Cage Fighting has officially finalised the roster and tournament brackets for the event, which features eight of the top 135-pound female fighters in the world.
With familiar faces returning and others looking to establish themselves among the elite, the debut FCF Grand Prix may pave the way for future tournaments and other opportunities for female fighters. MMARising.com can exclusively reveal the January 30th roster and brackets.
The opening round of the Freestyle Cage Fighting Women’s Grand Prix takes place at FCF 39 at the FireLake Grand Casino in Shawnee, Oklahoma on January 30th. The semi-final and final are tentatively set for March 27th and June 12th, respectively, but both dates are subject to change. The tournament may air live on HDNet and negotiations are ongoing.
Freestyle Cage Fighting Women’s Bantamweight Grand Prix Matchups:
Adrienna “AJ” Jenkins has competed primarily in and around Iowa throughout her six-year career and has lost just one time in her last 16 fights. Having never gone past the first round in 18 bouts, Jenkins is a proven finisher, but this will be a significant step up in competition. With the majority of Jenkins’s victories coming in the first minute, it will be interesting to see if her fight with the battle-tested Schneider will end as quickly.
Sarah Schneider gives up a significant edge in experience to Jenkins, but she has fought elite-level competition throughout her short career. With submission victories over veteran Julie “Fireball” Kedzie and fellow tournament participant Kaitlin Young, Schneider has already established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the division. Looking to rebound from a tough loss to the undefeated Sarah Kaufman, Schneider’s career will move forward in a big way with a victory here.
Jan “Cuddles” Finney is a veteran of the sport and has battled a who’s who of the top half of the 135-pound division. While she has faced tough losses, all but one of Finney’s victories have come by stoppage and she holds a submission win over Ginele Marquez. Having been on the brink of stardom on more than one occasion, the hard-hitting Finney will aim to make a statement at Carreiro’s expense.
Liz Carreiro has been a staple of FCF events since debuting in mixed martial arts in late 2006. All five of Carreiro’s wins have come by stoppage and she is known as one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the division. Carreiro has already challenged Miesha “Takedown” Tate for the FCF Women’s Bantamweight Championship and she has won three of her last four fights. A victory over the veteran Finney would be huge.
Kaitlin Young is known to many as the winner of the 2007 HOOKnSHOOT Women’s Grand Prix with a trio of highlight-reel knockouts, and she later went on to face Gina “Conviction” Carano on CBS primetime television for EliteXC. Young took a year off to complete her schooling and returned to MMA in December. Moving up in weight, Young was defeated by Shana Olsen (who missed weight for the fight), but the loss has only strengthened Young’s desire to battle back to the top of the division and fellow EliteXC veteran Tate stands in her way.
Jennifer “Rosebud” Tate also competed for EliteXC, but suffered her first and only career loss in a quick bout with Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler. A very well-rounded fighter with solid boxing and an excellent ground game, Tate has gone to a decision just once and already holds victories over the highly-regarded Tonya Evinger and fellow tournament participant Sarah Schneider. A win over Young would put Tate one step closer to the top of the competitive division.
Megumi Yabushita is a true pioneer of the sport who has faced anyone and everyone worth noting during her 12-year career. She holds victories over the likes of pound-for-pound stars Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano, Roxanne Modafferi and Erin Toughill and has a résumé in the sport that is arguably matched by no one. The Smackgirl legend will return to the United States with a goal of taking out Baszler en route to the tournament final.
Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler is arguably the top female submission fighter in all of mixed martial arts. All nine of her victories have come by tapout and very few opponents have been able to hold their own with Baszler if she takes the fight to the mat. The EliteXC and Strikeforce veteran has met with challenges when faced with superior strikers, but Baszler can hold her own on the feet and will not have to worry about any power strikes from Yabushita. She will be perfectly content if the fight hits the ground.
While the tournament is not officially a Strikeforce-sponsored event, the winner of the FCF Women’s Bantamweight Grand Prix will receive a guaranteed contract to compete in Strikeforce and may challenge for a championship title in the promotion. Further women’s tournaments in FCF may follow in the latter half of 2010.
Recent Strikeforce signee Erin Toughill is scheduled to compete in a non-tournament main event bout at FCF 39 against an opponent to be determined.