Women’s Boxing Superstar Puts TUF 20 Cast, Signees on Notice
Coming off the heels of a successful season that crowned the first female winner, the announcement of an inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter exclusive to strawweight women soon followed. TUF 20 is set to begin taping in April and debut on Fox Sports 1 on September 10th. UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and number contender Gilbert Melendez are set to be coaches, with 8 women already set to join a cast of 16. This cycle is much different from tournaments prior, as it will crown the company’s initial women’s 115-pound champion. Open tryouts to find 8 more fighters were held after 3 had to withdraw from the show for a variety of reasons, including Claudia Gadelha, Juliana Lima and Paige Van Zant. However, those fighters will all sign contracts directly to the UFC. Now there’s potentially one more female who would like to be added to that list: women’s boxing champion Ava Knight. In a tweet directed to UFC president Dana White Saturday, Knight issued a direct challenge to the fighters of the newly-implemented 115-pound division (via Twitter):
@AvaKnightBoxing: “@danawhite I could knock out anyone in your strawweight division. #LetsDoThis #UFC #TheSwitchOver”
The 25-year old nicknamed “The Lady of Boxing” out of Chico, California is the current 3-time WBC Diamond Champion and former IBF World Flyweight title holder. She currently trains out of Straight Forward Club with coach Ben Bautista but recently made the decision to move out to Las Vegas alongside Bautista to make a statement for women’s boxing by training at the Mayweather Gym and was even welcomed by Floyd himself. (Via officialavaknight.com) When asked in a prior interview, Knight denied interest in making the crossover to mixed martial arts but now apparently has had a change of heart. If she does make the transition, she would join a cast of successful former world champions who have also made the switch. Former title holders and current bantamweight Jessica Rakoczy and Holly Holm have had a tremendous share of success inside the cage. After a 33-3 career in the boxing ring, then 32-year old Rakoczy made the jump in 2009 and became a finalist opposite winner Julianna Pena on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. 18-time world champion Holm made the switch in 2011 and currently holds an unblemished 7-0 record, with 6 of those wins coming by way of knockout. She is currently in negotiations to join the UFC. The success of women’s MMA has reached unforeseen heights in the last year alone, with superstar UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey enjoying success of breaking live gate and pay-per view records. On the flip side, women’s boxing has yet to garner that same level of monetary and notable success and thus Knight has had to find as many as five fights in Mexico due to a lack of promotion and bouts available for women stateside. As of Sunday, Knight’s tweet to White has yet to receive a response but if she does indeed join the new division, it is possible that she would instantly become a contender for the strawweight champion, which is set to be crowned in December.