Monday, December 5, 2022

Aspen Ladd Signs With PFL, Weight Class Revealed

Former high-ranked UFC women’s bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd has signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

Last week, Ladd was released from her contract with the UFC following the latest of a number of issues on the scale. As was the case with a planned bout against Macy Chiasson last October, Ladd’s scheduled appearance at UFC Vegas 60 last month fell through following a two-pound weight miss.

With her inability to make weight at 135 pounds, and an almost-non-existent featherweight division, the promotion parted ways with the once-highly touted prospect.

Now, Ladd will look to re-rail her career inside the cage in new surroundings. On Tuesday, it was announced that the 27-year-old Californian had become the latest athlete to swap the Octagon for the PFL’s SmartCage.

In previous seasons, the PFL’s female roster has consisted solely of lightweights, with prominent star Kayla Harrison dominating the opposition. With Ladd’s signing, however, the organization has confirmed that the 2023 season will feature a 145-pound league and playoff format.

“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 released 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.” (h/t ESPN)

Bellator President Scott Coker recently noted that Ladd’s management had been in contact with his promotion. There, MMA great Cris Cyborg currently rules over the featherweight division. Nevertheless, the PFL has acted quickly to secure another notable signing as it looks to continue its pursuit of reinventing MMA with a unique format.

The PFL is one of the only prominent promotions to feature 155-pound competition on its women’s roster. But Kayla Harrison has confirmed that she won’t compete in the regular season format next year, and the majority of lightweights would seemingly be able to make featherweight.

With that, perhaps Ladd’s signing will signify a shift in what weight the PFL’s female roster operates at moving forward.

Ladd Joins Host Of Former UFC Fighters In 2023 PFL Season

With the announcement, Ladd has become one of many notable names who have exited the UFC this year and signed with the PFL.

This past summer, Shane Burgos relinquished his place in the featherweight rankings after fighting out his contract with a victory over Charles Jourdain at UFC Long Island. While he’d initially expressed his desire to re-sign with the MMA leader, an exploration into free agency landed him at a lucrative door to the SmartCage.

It was a similar story for one-time light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos a few weeks later. Following a defeat to Jamahal Hill at UFC Vegas 59, a result that marked his second main event setback of the year, “Marreta” bid farewell to the Octagon and joined the 2023 205-pound PFL roster.

Most recently, former WSOF champion Marlon Moraes made a return of sorts, with the promotion he once ruled over later being re-branded into the PFL. The Brazilian initially announced his retirement following a fourth-straight knockout loss earlier this year.

But he’s been tempted into a quick comeback, which will begin when he meets fellow newcomer Burgos in a main card bout at this year’s PFL finals in November.

What do you make of Aspen Ladd’s decision to sign with the PFL?