Ex-UFC bantamweight Ladd signs with PFL

MMA news

One week after being released by the UFC, Aspen Ladd has a new home with the PFL.

Ladd (9-3) has signed on to compete in PFL’s 2023 regular season as a featherweight, she and the promotion announced Tuesday. The PFL’s season format has not previously included a female featherweight division, only lightweight.

“I want to thank the Professional Fighters League for giving me the opportunity to continue my career in the PFL SmartCage,” Ladd said, in a statement. “I am excited about the PFL’s sport season format where you win and advance based on talent and merit. I look forward to testing myself against the best women’s featherweights in the world.”

The UFC released Ladd late last month, citing her repeated problems making the 135-pound bantamweight limit. The 27-year-old missed weight for a bout against Leslie Smith in 2018, which was subsequently canceled. She missed weight for a fight against Macy Chiasson in 2021 and again for a fight last week against Sara McMann. Both of those bouts were also canceled.

UFC president Dana White referred to Ladd as a “great kid” and “talented fighter” last week, while confirming her release was due to missing weight.

Ladd, from Pioneer, California, should have an easier time in 2023, as she will compete at 145 pounds instead of 135. Despite her problems on the scale, she is widely considered one of the top female fighters in the world.

“We’re very excited to bring Aspen to the PFL,” said PFL president Ray Sefo. “She is a talented fighter who has shown she can be one of the top women in the sport and she’ll fit in great for the 2023 season.”

The PFL’s current female roster consists only of 155-pound lightweights, however most, if not all, of those in the 2022 season could possibly make 145 pounds. Two-time PFL champion and Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison has been the face of the women’s competition — and the PFL brand in general — for multiple years. She has competed at 145 pounds previously and is still signed to PFL, but she has indicated she will not compete in next year’s season format, opting for showcase fights.

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