Until recently, the Professional Fighters League has been little
more than the Kayla
Harrison
show at 155 pounds when it comes to women’s MMA.

That’s going to change for the next season, as the promotion plans
to unveil a 145-pound weight class in 2023. The first female
featherweight bout will take place on the main card of the PFL
Championship event on Nov. 25, with Aspen Ladd
squaring off against Julia Budd.
Ladd, who recently signed with the organization after a seven-bout
stint in the UFC, is thrilled that the PFL has elected to build an
oft-overlooked division.

“I’m extremely excited that they decided to do that,” Ladd said.
“As I said, going into this it’s like, ‘Oh they have a 155 – which
is you walk in at whatever you’re walking around that basically.’
But for them to actually have a 145 division, and the fact that
they actually want to put effort in, and they want to flush it out,
that is exciting.”

Ladd began her UFC tenure as a promising bantamweight prospect, but
she ultimately earned more attention for her struggles on the scale
and the fight cancellations that often occurred as a result. Most
recently, she missed weight by two pounds for a proposed bout
against Sara McMann
at UFC Fight Night 210 on Sept. 17. That was her third time missing
weight in the Las Vegas-based promotion, and it would lead to her
release. Ladd claims that she wanted to move to featherweight, but
opportunities to do so were limited in the UFC.

“The last couple of years, it’s been my desire to move up,” she
said. . “And in the UFC they have that division, but they’re really
not putting any effort or attention into it. It kind of exists
because Amanda [Nunes] has the belt right now .…”

She added that the failed weight cut prior to the McMann fight
clinched her decision to remain at 145 pounds for the foreseeable
future.

“So yeah, that was kind of like the last straw. I know I can’t.
Like, I can barely sometimes make 135 and every single time is bad,
so it was more of a health thing,” Ladd said. “For this last cut,
that was the leanest I’ve come in. I started that cut at 142 pounds
and after three I just dried up. So during that whole six hours of
roasting and not sweating anymore, just feeling like I’m dying, I’m
like, ‘I’m never doing this again. I’m done.’ Whatever the course
may be, it’s 45 from here on out.”

Ladd’s struggles date back to a matchup with Germaine
de Randamie
at UFC Fight Night 155 in July 2019. Although she
hit the mark for that bout, she was visibly shaking on the scales
and would go on to suffering a 16-second stoppage defeat. Ladd
tried to stay the course at bantamweight because the opportunities
were more plentiful there than at 145 pounds. Now she won’t have to
worry about that with the PFL adding the division to its season
format.

“Because that’s the only place [in the UFC] where there was
opportunity for me, and you fight where you have that,” Ladd said.
“And yeah, at the end they didn’t [allow her to fight at
featherweight]. And honestly, for anybody else that’s currently in
that division, start looking at your options. If you can be one of
the ones that drops, do it.”





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After Rough Go at 135, Aspen Ladd ‘Extremely Excited’ to Compete as PFL Featherweight

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