claudia-gadelha-pre-ufc-fight-night-45

ATLANTIC CITY – Just three short years ago, UFC President Dana White infamously claimed women would “never” fight in his promotion’s famed octagon.

However, with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey now firmly entrenched as one of the biggest superstars in all of MMA, the organization welcomes a second women’s division to its ranks on Wednesday.

“I always dreamed of fighting in the UFC, but it was so hard to think of the women’s division in the UFC,” Claudia Gadelha told MMAjunkie. “But they opened the door for us, and I’m very happy to be opening the strawweight division.”

Brazilian prospect Gadelha (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets fellow undefeated strawweight Tina Lahdemaki (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the very first fight of Wednesday’s “UFC Fight Night 45: Cerrone vs. Miller” event, which takes place at Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Gadelha vs. Lahdemaki streams live on UFC Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET) while the night’s remaining 10 fights – including a Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller headliner – air live on FOX Sports 1 (7 p.m. ET).

The curtain-jerker serves as the first 115-pound contest in UFC history, with the new division supplementing the 135-pound division in which Rousey currently reigns supreme.

While Rousey’s impressive fighting skills have taken the world by storm, the 115-pound division currently boasts a deeper roster of talented athletes, meaning the weight class may quickly provide some memorable affairs.

“We all have that same talent and technique and skills and everything, but the 115-pounders have a little bit more speed than the 135-pounders, so I think that’s something that might make it a little bit more exciting,” Lahdemaki said.

The women’s strawweight division will really take flight later this fall. Sixteen of the world’s top 115-pounders are currently in Las Vegas filming “The Ultimate Fighter 20,” which debuts on FOX Sports 1 later this year. The women will be divided into two teams, with UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and top contender Gilbert Melendez serving as coaches. The winner of the 16-woman tournament will be crowned the UFC women’s strawweight champion.

Gadelha was actually selected to compete on the show and was one of the early favorites to win the tournament. However, Gadelha routinely walks around at about 140 pounds, and the prospect of making the 115-pound limit three times in six weeks of filming seemed dire, so she elected to pass on the reality show. The 25-year-old “Claudinha” admits it was a difficult choice, but she is now thankful for the historic opportunity she’s been given.

“I was kind of sad because I’m not going there, but the UFC gave me that present to make the first strawwight fight in UFC history, so I’m very happy about that,” Gadelha said.

Lahdemaki’s arrival in the promotion was a bit more surprising, even for her. “Jelly Bean” felt she might be garnering interest from outside her native Finland but didn’t necessarily expect it would come from the world’s largest MMA promotion.

tina-lahdemaki-pre-ufc-fight-night-45“It was a pretty big shock for me,” Lahdemaki said. “I was expecting that I would get a contract somewhere outside of Finland, but this was so unreal. I didn’t see this one coming, but I’m happy it did.

“I was a little bit nervous before I came here, but everybody is just so nice and everything has been handled so great that I’m just excited and can’t wait to fight.”

And so the two imports will face off at Wednesday’s event and make history as the first 115-pound fighters to step into the UFC’s famed octagon. If Rousey’s fast ride to superstardom is any indication, a real opportunity for a breakout performance could follow. It’s a possibility not lost on Gadelha, who is anxious to usher in a new era for women in the UFC.

“I think the strawweight division will impress everybody,” Gadelha said. “All the girls there are very talented. The strawweights make very good fights. It’s faster. It’s exciting.

“I want to be the champ. That’s why I’m here. I came here to stay, and nothing and nobody will take that away from me.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 45, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Claudia Gadelha, top, and Tina Lahdemaki, bottom)

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Cyborg: 'I'm not lying' UFC offered me Ronda Rousey on Dec. 5

  • 23 days ago
  • 339 views

Despite Dana White's comments, Cris Cyborg continues to insist that the UFC offered her management a bout with Ronda Rousey on December 5th in Dallas. Uh oh, it's a he said/he said/she said moment in read news >>

UFC Fight Night 73 results: Beneil Dariush earns controversial split decision over Michael Johnson

  • 24 days ago
  • 6 views

Company president Dana White always warns his fighters to never leave the outcome of a fight in the unpredictable hands of the judges. And the co-main at UFC Fight Night 73 is the reason that express read news >>

Dana White Blasts Tito Ortiz for “Lying” About UFC Offering Cris Cyborg a Fight with Ronda Rousey

  • 24 days ago
  • 152 views

UFC president Dana White blasted Tito Ortiz for "lying" about the UFC offering Cris Cyborg a fight with Ronda Rousey. Cyborg, however, came to Tito's defense. read news >>

Dana White: Tito Ortiz is a liar, UFC never offered Cris Cyborg a fight vs Ronda Rousey in Dallas

  • 24 days ago
  • 20 views

Hold the phone. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White acted quickly to shoot down claims made by Tito Ortiz that an offer was made to Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino to fight UFC women read news >>

Dana White calls Tito Ortiz's claims on Ronda Rousey vs. Cyborg Justino 'a total lie'

  • 24 days ago
  • 11 views

The news making the rounds Saturday claiming that Dana White offered Cyborg Justino a fight against UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was a surprise to many. Among those most surprised, read news >>

Dana White congratulates Ronda Rousey for making UFC 190 'No. 1 PPV of 2015'

  • 25 days ago
  • 182 views

The UFC president tweeted his women's champion for multiple accomplishments this year, including the best pay-per-view of 2015. One week ago at UFC 190, Ronda Rousey demolished another challenger in read news >>

Women's MMA Report: Rousey proves dominance once again with knockout of Correia

  • 25 days ago
  • 3 views

Ronda Rousey remained the most dominant champion on the planet with her win over Bethe Correia. Read about that and the rest of the recent action in the world of women’s MMA.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

MMAjunkie's 'Fight of the Month' for July is Dana White's 'Fight of the Ever'

  • 26 days ago
  • 6 views

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie takes a look at the best fights from July. Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight read news >>

‘Minotauro’ Nogueira not ready to commit to retirement yet

  • 26 days ago
  • 15 views

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Dana White had a quick chat after UFC 190, and it sounded like the heavyweight legend would call it quits following the unanimous decision loss to Stefan Struve. However, read news >>

When Dana White called, Geane Herrera made sure the boss got his name right

  • 27 days ago
  • 12 views

It’s a subtle difference, and one that’s not even necessarily noticeable when just looking at his name on paper, but when Geane Herrera received a call from UFC President Dana White, he made sure the read news >>