The talk of Twitter Monday morning and afternoon was definitely the tryouts for The Ultimate Fighter 20. That is because it is the first season that features all women and will crown a champion at the end of the season.
From the tryouts, MMA Junkie confirmed that there were 36 women who showed up to the open tryouts in an attempt to make the cast of the show.
There are eight spots available on the show since Paige VanZant, Claudia Gadelha and Juliana Lima were all pulled from the program. The eight women were all brought over from Invicta, though there were Invicta fighters at the tryouts.
Reasons for TUF 20 pulls all as expected (per DW): VanZant underage, Gadelha can't make the weight over and over, Lima speaks no English.— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) April 28, 2014
Here are the eight women on the cast now.
|Joanne Calderwood (UK)||8-0||Dinky Ninjas|
|Alex Chambers (AUS)||4-1||VT-1 Gym|
|Carla Esparza (USA)||9-2||Team Oyama|
|Felice Herrig (USA)||9-5||Team Curran|
|Emily Kagan (USA)||3-1||Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA|
|Rose Namajunas (USA)||2-1||The Academy|
|Bec Rawlings (AUS)||5-3||Gamebred Combat Club|
|Tecia Torres (USA)||4-0||American Top Team|
Those eight women are all impressive, but since hearing the names of the women at the tryouts, all I can think about is who will make the show. Given the list of 36 women that were at the tryouts, let's take a look at the eight women who should snag the final spots in the hopes of making this the most competitive season possible.
Riley's Picks for Final 8 Spots
|Nina Ansaroff (USA)||6-3||MMA Masters|
|Heather Clark (USA)||6-4||Xtreme Couture|
|Aisling Daly (IRE)||14-5||SBG Ireland|
|Lisa Ellis (USA)||15-8||United Training Center|
|Justine Kish (USA)||4-0||Blackhouse|
|Angela Magana (USA)||11-6||Team Four Corners|
|Michelle Ould (USA)||7-3||Team Quest|
|Jessica Penne (USA)||11-2||Reign MMA/Kings MMA|
The UFC can have a tendency to pick looks over talent when looking at past signing decisions, but this show should literally be the cream of the crop. That being said, of the eight I chose, that doesn't mean they aren't good-looking women who can be marketable to the average caveman fan.
Three of the women who should be given a serious look are true veterans of the sport that have been doing this for a long time. Those three are Aisling Daly, Lisa Ellis and Angela Magana.
Most impressive to me today were Penne and Daly, but there is lots of talent available for this season. Gonna be a good one.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) April 28, 2014
Daly is an obvious choice, not only because of her experience and skill, but because she is from Ireland. The UFC is making an obvious power play in the country thanks to Conor McGregor and as evidenced by Cathal Pendred and Chris Fields' inclusion in TUF 19.
Ellis and Magana are experienced against high-level women due to their longevity in the sport. Ellis would complete the first-ever couple to be featured on TUF, as her husband Eddy was on the 16th season of the show. Magana is a crafty vet who has the personality to stir the pot in the house, as she has done in the past through social media and the MMA media.
Speaking of stirring the pot, that's where Heather Clark comes in, as she has a beef with Felice Herrig. That is not the only reason she should be in, though, as she is tough as nails and has a well-rounded skill set. She would likely want a rematch with Herrig, as she lost a split decision despite a broken arm suffered in the first round.
Then there are a pair of current flyweights that are among the best in that division that would really add to this cast in Nina Ansaroff and Michelle Ould. They would be definite threats to make a serious run on the show.
Ould, who hasn't competed in almost two years, is still known for knocking off some of the best at 125. If she can keep her weight down on the show, she has the well-rounded tool set to go far in the tournament. The same can be said for Ansaroff, though she has stayed much more busy in recent times than Ould.
The dark horse is Justine Kish. Assuming she had a tryout that matches her recent performances in the cage, she could be a lock for the cast. She is a muay thai champion with underrated grappling skills, and she could make a name for herself on this stage.
The woman who most fans are expecting to make the cast is Jessica Penne. The former Invicta Atomweight champion is a large 105-pounder and would not be at too big of a size disadvantage in the house. Not only that, but she would also be one of the most skilled women of the cast.
Those eight women are the most qualified and have the most intangibles to make this season's cast. Of course, there were other talented ladies at the tryouts who could find their way into the cast.
Sound off in the comments section on who you think should grab the eight spots open to the cast or if you agree with my picks!