5 Strawweight Fighters Who Can Really Entertain the Fans

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2014

5 Strawweight Fighters Who Can Really Entertain the Fans

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    The premiere of The Ultimate Fighter season 20 is upon us, and it will introduce the UFC audience to the female strawweight division.

    The 115-pound division has long been MMA's most talent-rich women's division. For years, it was dominated by Japanese legend Megumi Fujii, but Fujii has since hung up her gloves. Current No. 1-ranked fighter Jessica Aguilar competes in the WSOF.

    Earlier this year, the UFC opened up the strawweight division with two bouts featuring two of the most exciting fighters in the division—Claudia Gadelha and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. For the purpose of this slideshow I will leave them out, as the UFC has already given them a platform to shine. We will focus on others who have yet to make the jump.

    Here are five names you will want to keep your eye on as the 115-pound division comes to the UFC and grows into one of the best divisions in the organization.

Rose Namajunas

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    Rose Namajunas will compete on TUF 20, and she will be one of the more interesting fighters to watch—win or lose.

    Why?

    She is only 22 years old. She is still learning. To be able to watch her progression from Week 1 until the finale will be excellent for all. She already has a unique style that lends itself to being an exciting fighter.

    Namajunas made her pro debut in Invicta FC. She won her first fight by rear-naked choke and her second fight by an amazing flying armbar in just 12 seconds. By just reading the results you would suspect that she is a jiu-jitsu stylist, but she is actually more of a striker.

    She is only getting better, and that is a scary thought for other women in the division. She has all the raw abilities to become a champion. Can she parlay that on TUF, or will she still need time to develop? Either way, expect Namajunas to grow leaps and bounds on the show while being in exciting fights.

    There is little doubt she will wind up as one of Dana White's favorite fighters.

Aisling Daly

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    Personal Twitter Photo

    Aisling Daly is still largely unknown, but if you followed women's MMA over the years, there is no doubt you've heard her name.

    Daly has been ranked at both strawweight and flyweight. In fact, Daly unseated Jessica Eye—currently UFC's No. 6-ranked bantamweight—as the NAAFS flyweight champion in 2011 via submission. It was Eye's only professional loss until she dropped a bout to Alexis Davis earlier this year in the UFC.

    Daly hit a three-fight skid in 2012 against quality competition (Rosi Sexton, Barb Honchak and Katja Kankaanpaa). She picked up a win in her return in late December and then made the cast for TUF 20.

    The Irish strawweight is 14-5 as a professional and has a well-rounded skill set that will make her a dark horse during TUF.

    This veteran brings it in the cage each and every time, and she should be a thrill to watch on The Ultimate Fighter.

Joanne Calderwood

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    Joanne Calderwood is the No. 4-ranked strawweight in the world. That will make her one of the favorites on TUF 20.

    What makes her exciting?

    It is her striking. Hands down.

    Calderwood has a perfect 8-0 record as a professional with half of her wins coming by way of TKO/KO. Her most notable finish was in her Invicta FC debut when she took out Ashley Cummins with a knee to the body.

    We have yet to see Calderwood truly tested in the grappling department, but on the feet, she is one of the most dangerous women at 115 pounds. Calderwood's stand-up style is extremely fun to watch, and she is anything but sloppy.

Tecia Torres

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    Another favorite on the upcoming season of TUF is No. 6-ranked Tecia Torres.

    Torres exploded up the ranks when she turned pro. Each of her four pro bouts were on Invicta FC cards, and she looked better and better each time out.

    Torres is a technical striker with speed. She went through fellow rookies Kaiyana Rain, Paige VanZant and Rose Namajunas in her first three outings. She showcased not only her stand-up skills, but her defensive grappling as well.

    In her final Invicta FC bout, she went up against veteran Felice Herrig. It was to be a true test to see where she was at, and she exceeded all expectations in a clear-cut decision victory.

    Torres is an American Top Team training partner of No. 1 Aguilar, and that will only serve to help her down the road. Torres is a dynamic young fighter who has a personality to help her shine. She was a fan favorite in Invicta, and she will be a fan favorite in the UFC.

Mizuki Inoue

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    Esther Lin/Invicta FC

    Mizuki Inoue is the No. 7-ranked strawweight, and she is the only woman on this list not on TUF 20. In fact, she is not yet signed to the UFC. That, in itself, is a travesty.

    Inoue is a special talent. She made her pro debut when she was just 17 years old and was 5-1 as a 19-year-old in her Invicta FC debut. She battled with TUF 20 cast member Bec Rawlings, and she beat the brakes off her.

    Her lone loss came in her third professional bout to former top-five ranked strawweight Ayaka Hamasaki. She was tossed into the deep end of the pool immediately and did quite well for herself.

    Inoue may have the best technical boxing in the division. Her hands are a marvel to watch. Inoue has to be on the UFC's shortlist, and they should consider locking her into a contract as soon as possible. Fans will love to watch the Japanese striker work.

    The sky is the limit for Inoue, and hopefully we get to see more of the 20-year-old in the near future.