Meet the TUF Strawweights: Part 1

Fightland Blog

By Shawn Smith

The cast of The Ultimate Fighter 20 was introduced this past week during the lead up to UFC 175 in Las Vegas. Featuring a variety of fighters from the world over, this season of the Ultimate Fighter promises to be one of the most intriguing in the show’s history.

For the first time ever a UFC world championship will be on the line during The Ultimate Fighter, raising the stakes from years past. There’s a variety of personalities, skillsets and nationalities represented on the show, all of which should make for compelling television.

Here’s a look at the first eight ladies that will enter The Ultimate Fighter 20 house.

Felice Herrig

From: Illinois, United States
Camp: Team Curran
Record: 9-5
Strength: Toughness

Throughout her five years as a pro mixed martial artist, Felice Herrig has become as well known for her exciting fights as she has for her stunning good looks.

Never afraid to pose in provocative clothing or show off her assets, Herrig has become a fan favorite amongst male fans of the sport. That being said, her abilities in the cage cannot be under looked.

Training out of Team Curran, she brings that same toughness and dirty boxing style as Pat Curran to the cage. Her grit and desire to win could set her apart from many of the girls on the show.

There’s no doubt that Herrig will be getting a lot of camera time. Her looks and brash personality could rub more than a few women the wrong way. If she can stay focused on the task at hand, her toughness could carry her far in the tournament.

Aisling Daly

From: Dublin, Ireland
Camp: SBG Ireland
Record: 14-5
Strength: Experience

Aisling Daly’s story isn’t one of perfect records or becoming an overnight phenomenon. 

At only 26, Daly has been toiling away at her craft of mixed martial arts for seven years already with 19 fights. After a 9-0 start to her career, Daly has gone 5-5 in her last 10 fights as she has faced constantly higher levels of talent.

A submission artist by nature, Daly’s training with one of Europe’s best camps with SBG Ireland. The likes of Gunnar Nelson and Conor McGregor are sure to have her in the best shape of her career as she approaches her opportunity of a lifetime with The Ultimate Fighter 20.

She is not afraid to be a little reckless. She’ll put herself in tricky positions and revels in a bloody good fight. Probably the biggest of the 115lb. fighters on the show, Daly will try to use her size to secure herself a long run in the tournament.

Joanne Calderwood

From: Glasgow, Scotland
Camp: Dinky Ninjas
Record: 8-0
Strength: Striking

The Scottish may be known for their ability to fight, but they haven’t really emerged on the mixed martial arts scene yet.

That is until now.

With a thick Scottish accent and an exciting striking-based style, Joanne Calderwood is sure to be a fan favorite on The Ultimate Fighter 20, even if she has to be subtitled.

She may be soft-spoken, but she’ll do most of her talking in the ring. A pawing jab and long legs, she will use her Muay-Thai to keep things at her range and pick apart lesser opponents as she tries to bring a UFC championship back to her native land.

Alex Chambers

From: New South Wales, Australia
Camp: VT-1 Gym
Record: 4-1
Strength: Well-rounded

Australian born Alex Chambers came to Invicta last year with little North-American fanfare. Only 3-1 as a professional, there were questions how she would do against the perceived higher level of talent on the big stage.

It took her only 1:35 to finish her first opponent and secure her spot in The Ultimate Fighter 20 house.

Nicknamed “Astro Girl” because she studied Astrophysics in college, Chambers is as smart as she is tough. Instead of looking at stars, Chambers is now looking to become a star herself in mixed martial arts.

Although known for her striking, Chambers has shown impressive grappling pedigree and will be a force to be reckoned with on the show.

Heather Clark

From: New Mexico, United States
Camp: Syndicate MMA
Record: 6-4
Strength: Toughness

Anyone wanting to prove their toughness during The Ultimate Fighter 20 is going to have to go through Heather Clark.

A brawler with improving boxing, Clark isn’t afraid to throw leather with opponents. She’ll take two shots to land one; it’s a style that fans will certainly appreciate.

Having spent time at the Mayweather Boxing Club, Clark’s passion for the sport and dedication to improvement could provide us with an entirely different fighter once the show begins.

At 33 years old, Clark knows that this may be her last opportunity to succeed at a high level and will be sure not to squander the opportunity.

Lisa Ellis

From: Washington State, United States
Camp: United Training Center
Record: 15-8
Strength: Crafty submission artist

Some say that half the battle in the fight game is building your career and getting the opportunities against the right opponents. Lisa Ellis isn’t like that.

Ellis is a born fighter. Having been in the sport well over a decade, Ellis is the most experienced member of The Ultimate Fighter 20 cast.

Never looking for an easy payday, she had a stretch between 2010 and 2012 that saw her face Stephanie Frausto, Aisling Daly, Megumi Fujii, Jessica Aguilar and Jessica Penne back to back in what was a murderer’s row of top 115lb. female fighters in the world.

A submission artist by nature, 11 of her 15 wins have come by submission. Any fighter who takes her lightly on the show will likely find themselves in a deep ankle lock before they can blink.

Carla Esparza

From: California, United States
Camp: Team Oyama
Record: 9-2
Strength: Wrestling

On a show where the only requirement is to win without getting injured, wrestlers often fare well.

That’s why California’s Carla Esparza is the early favorite to walk away the victor of The Ultimate Fighter 20 with the 115lb. championship.

The most accomplished wrestler on the show, Esparza has shown an incredible ability to adapt those skills to mixed martial arts. Going 3-0 in Invicta with her only professional losses being to Megumi Fujii and Jessica Aguilar, Esparza has a style that sets her apart from most female fighters.

She has one of the most fun and likable personalities of all the women on the show, which should endear her to fans over the course of the show. If she doesn’t cave to the pressure of being a favorite, there are big expectations on Esparza to be the face of this division for years to come.

Angela Hill

From: New York, United States
Camp: Evolution Muay Thai/Radical MMA
Record: 1-0
Strength: Muay-Thai

Only 1-0 as a professional mixed martial arts fighter, Angela Hill has a reputable Muay-Thai background that she’s hoping will prove to be the difference in The Ultimate Fighter 20 house.

A gas tank that never quits, Hill will throw strikes until the referee forces her to stop.

A likable, energetic woman, she will be looking to ruin some of the more well-known fighter’s plans of running over the competition. With her calm demeanor, it’s unlikely she will cave to the pressure of this monumental opportunity, which will work in her favor.

She’s an underdog, without question, but every underdog has their day. We’ve seen too many underdogs win in this sport to ever count out any fighter, especially one with the skills of Angela Hill. 


Check out these related stories:

Expanding Definitions: The New UFC Strawweight Division Moves WMMA Onwards

Hail the Queen: Ronda Rousey Is on Fire

Rose Namajunas talks TUF, Colorado, and Trying to Start a Fight with Royce Gracie