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UFC adds women's strawweight division

Carla Esparza, left, won a unanimous decision over

Carla Esparza, left, won a unanimous decision over Bec Hyatt to win the inaugural Invicta FC strawweight title (115 pounds) at Invicta FC 4 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. (Jan 5, 2013) (Credit: Invicta FC/Esther Lin)

Not long ago, women fighting inside the UFC's octagon seemed like the most far-fetched concept in the male-driven world of mixed martial arts. Heck, the president of the organization even said as much.

And there Dana White was on Wednesday, on a conference call, announcing that the UFC would be expanding its women's division to now include strawweights (115 pounds).

Invicta FC, an all-female MMA promotion based in Kansas City, has assigned 11 of its contracted fighters to the UFC to establish a new division in the world's largest MMA company.

"The 135-pound division has been very successful for us, the fans like it, I'm thrilled with it, and we're going to dive into the 115-pound division now," White said.

Those fighters are: Carla Esparza, Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Joanne Calderwood, Tecia Torres, Rose Namajunas, Bec Hyatt, Emily Kagan, Alex Chambers, Julianna Lima, and Paige Van Zant.

These 11 fighters will compete on Season 20 of "The Ultimate Fighter" -- along with five other fighters based on tryouts. The winner of that season (which will begin taping next May) will be named the UFC women's strawweight champion. This will be the first all-female edition of "TUF" (Season 18 featured both men and women) and the first time the show's winner will become an instant champion.

Tags: ufc , women's mma , dana white , invicta , Carla Esparza , Claudia Gadelha , Felice Herrig , Joanne Calderwood , Tecia Torres , Rose Namajunas , Bec Hyatt , Emily Kagan , Alex Chambers , Julianna Lima , and Paige Van Zant

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