The Ultimate Fighter 20 Cast Revealed, Champion To Be CrownedThe Ultimate Fighter 20 begins filming this week and the latest season’s all-female cast has now been fully revealed. For the first time in the show’s lengthy history, TUF 20 will determine a titleholder when the tournament winner is crowned as the inaugural UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion.

Among those participating in the competition are former Invicta FC champs Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza and Jessica Penne. Joining them is rising star Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres, Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood and 12 others all hoping to become the UFC’s first 115-pound female champion.

Esparza (9-2-0) captured her first major MMA title in January 2013 when she defeated short-notice replacement “Rowdy” Bec Rawlings at Invicta FC 4, but injuries to both Esparza and planned opponent Claudia “Claudinha” Gadelha scrapped bouts between the two and left Esparza without a fight for the remainder of the year. Since the announcement that the UFC would be creating a 115-pound women’s division this year, Esparza has been training harder than ever in preparation for her time on TUF 20, where she hopes to add an even more prestigious title to her collection.

Penne (11-2-0) moves back up to 115 pounds for the first time in close to four years in order to take part in TUF 20. The well-rounded Californian became the first Invicta FC champion when she claimed the promotion’s inaugural 105-pound atomweight belt in October 2012. Penne’s title reign was short-lived and she was upset by current champion Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson at Invicta FC 5, but she rebounded by submitting Nicdali “The Night Queen” Rivera-Calanoc this past July.

Torres (4-0-0) and Calderwood (8-0-0) have yet to hold major titles in their professional MMA careers, but neither fighter is a stranger to championship gold. Torres won three titles during her 7-0 run as an amateur and Calderwood is a multi-time Muay Thai champion. Torres is one of the fastest rising female stars in MMA today and she is coming off of a big win over fellow TUF 20 competitor Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig at Invicta FC 7 in December. Standout striker Calderwood kept her unblemished record intact by edging out Katja “Killer Bunny” Kankaanpää on the same Invicta FC 7 card.

Rounding out the TUF 20 cast are fighters from countries all over the world. The aforementioned Bec Rawlings (5-3-0) and Felice Herrig (9-5-0) join fellow veterans “Hurricane” Heather Clark (6-4-0), Lisa Ellis (15-8-0), Aisling “Ais The Bash” Daly (14-5-0) and Angela Magana (11-6-0) as some of the most experienced fighters in the competition. Clark and Magana have their fair share of enemies, including each other and castmate Herrig, and the bitter rivals have engaged in a war of words for quite some time. The mutual dislike could very easily spill over into dramatic scenes inside the TUF house.

TUF 20 also features prospects who are eager to make their mark with impressive performances during the season. Emily Kagan (3-1-0), “Thug” Rose Namajunas (2-1-0), Alex “Astro Girl” Chambers (4-1-0), Angela “Overkill” Hill (1-0-0), Justine Kish (4-0-0) and Randa Markos (4-1-0) complete the TUF 20 cast.

History will be made when the winner of the gruelling competition is awarded both a UFC contract and the inaugural UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship. In order to claim the new title, the TUF 20 champion will be forced to outlast three other opponents. Undefeated BJJ black belt Claudia Gadelha, who makes her UFC debut later this month, could serve as the first challenger for the UFC’s 115-pound women’s title if she can get past Tina “Jelly Bean” Lähdemäki at UFC Fight Night 45.



(Photo Credit: UFC)