Cage Warriors Fighting Championship has started to build its women's divisions with the signing of 18 fighters.
As MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) first reported earlier today, Cage Warriors plans to build deep divisions in the 105-, 115-, 125- and 135-pound weight classes.
The promotion today announced the first 18 fighters it has signed to multi-fight contracts. Cage Warriors plans to make women's fights a fixture on upcoming cards.
"This is a hugely significant development for CWFC but it's by no means new territory for the promotion," Cage Warriors CEO Graham Boylan stated. "With the exception of the UFC, Cage Warriors is now not only the busiest promotion in MMA, but it's also the place to be for female fighters outside the USA. The women we've signed are now with a promotion that's broadcast live on TV into 150 million homes around the globe, as well as being streamed live worldwide. We'll be bringing a lot of exposure their way and helping them to make names for themselves, as we've done in the past with the likes of Conor McGregor and many others."
McGregor held two titles simultaneously for Cage Warriors before signing with the UFC earlier this year – where he quickly took the promotion by storm with a quick first-round TKO victory. He next fights in August at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston.
Among the women's fighters who have competed for Cage Warriors in the past are Rosi Sexton, who just made her UFC debut in June, and Sheila Gaff, who debuted with the UFC in April, as well as Invicta FC fighters Joanne Calderwood, Katja Kankaanpaa and Aisling Daly.
It was Sexton, in fact, who helped Boylan and Cage Warriors in the scouting process. She went 6-0 for the promotion before signing with the UFC, where she dropped a decision to Alexis Davis at UFC 161.
"Cage Warriors have supported me throughout my career and gave me the opportunities which have led to where I am today," Sexton stated. "I'm very excited to see them making this huge commitment to developing women's MMA, which will give many more up-and-coming female fighters a chance to show what they can do. For a long time, Europe has been in need of a really strong women's division within a single promotion to give the female fighters the opportunity to fight regularly against good opponents on top-quality shows. It gives all the female fighters out there something to aim towards. This is just the first step, and I can't wait to see how it develops."
Among the 18 fighters now signed to the promotion are veteran Karla Benitez (10-4-1), of Spain, who has seven of her 10 victories by stoppage, and unbeaten English prospect Laura Howarth (3-0). Benitez will compete at strawweight, while Howarth will fight at bantamweight.
Cage Warriors officials said that in addition to the atomweight, strawweight, flyweight and bantamweight divisions, it hopes to soon introduce a women's featherweight division, as well.
The 18 fighters now signed to Cage Warriors includes:
•LJ Adams (1-1), 29, Bantamweight, England
•Karla Benitez (10-4-1), 34, Strawweight, Spain
•Irene Cabello, (1-1), 20, Strawweight, Spain
•Catherine Costigan (2-0), 33, Atomweight, Ireland
•Kirsty Davis (0-0), 36, Strawweight, Spain
•Emma Delaney (0-0), 31, Bantamweight, England
•Chloe Hinchcliffe (1-3-1), 24, Flyweight, England
•Laura Howarth (3-0), 26, Bantamweight, England
•Kerry Hughes (0-0), 28, Bantamweight, England
•Kate Jackson (4-2), 26, Flyweight, England
•Amanda Kelly (0-0), 31, Bantamweight, England
•Rachael McMillan (0-0), 25, Flyweight, England
•Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (3-0), 18, Bantamweight, Poland
•Vanessa Reinsch (1-1), 25, Atomweight, Germany
•Vanessa Rico (0-1), 32, Atomweight, Spain
•Eeva Siiskonen (2-0), 31, Bantamweight, Finland
•Hannah Stephens (1-1), 22, Bantamweight, England
•Slavka Vitali (2-0), 38, Flyweight, Italy