A week after being released from the UFC, Aspen Ladd has signed with the PFL and is expected to be part of the 2023 regular season in a reported featherweight division.
It took only a week after being released from the Ultimate Fighting Championship for Aspen Ladd to find a new home. The Professional Fighters League announced on Tuesday morning that Ladd would be joining the PFL. ESPN reports that Ladd will be competing in a new featherweight division that the promotion will be opening in the 2023 season.
🚨 OFFICIAL: @TheAspenLadd is PFL bound! pic.twitter.com/8WzWx3fSD5
— PFL (@PFLMMA) October 4, 2022
Ladd (9-3) quickly rose up the UFC ranks as an undefeated 22 year-old who was a breath of fresh air in the stagnant bantamweight division. After opening her career 7-0 including three victories in the Octagon, Ladd suffered her first professional loss in what was seen as a title eliminator against Germaine de Randamie in 2019. Ladd would go on to post a 1-2 record following the loss, most recently dropping a bout to Raquel Pennington this past April.
In the past several years, consistent struggles to make weight have cast a cloud over what was forecasted to be a promising career for the young upstart. Weight misses on her part have cancelled three of her bouts since 2016, including her most recent scheduled bout against Sara McMann last month. Even when she made weight, frightening scenes such as the ones surrounding her loss to de Randamie as she looked to be on the verge of a medical disaster led to concern about her ability to make the 135 limit safely. Notably, Ladd had also moved up to featherweight for one bout on a week’s notice in 2021 after a weight miss cancelled one of her bouts. She made the decision to stay at bantamweight afterwards.
Following the cancellation of her bout with McMann in September, Ladd was released from the promotion after the repeated struggles with the scale. UFC President Dana White said about the decision “we tried to work with her” but that it “had to happen.”
The PFL has not had a women’s featherweight division in their short history, instead electing to hold a lightweight division that has largely been populated by women who competed at featherweight or bantamweight in other organizations. While Ladd’s name value would suggest a possible marquee bout with promotional star Kayla Harrison in 2023, it should be noted that the current plan is for Harrison to compete outside the tournament format next year and only be part of their pay-per-view events. Thus a bout between the two (at least in 2023) is unlikely.
In a statement released by the PFL, Ladd said about joining the promotion:
“I want to thank the Professional Fighters League for giving me the opportunity to continue my career in the PFL SmartCage,” said Ladd. “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 in the world.”