Women’s MMA has come a long way in the past few years. After the successful first year of the UFC’s Women’s Bantamweight division, the promotion has decided to add in another Women’s division: the Strawweights. Then came the exciting news about who was being signed and how they would debut inside the Octagon.
Eleven Invicta FC Strawweights are to be brought into the UFC, and compete on the Ultimate Fighter season 20. If that is not already exciting enough, the stakes have been raised. The show’s grand prize is not the usual six-figure contract with the UFC. Instead, the tournament will decide the inaugural UFC Women’s Strawweight champion.
One of the eleven Strawweights that was brought into the UFC is Tecia ‘Tiny Tornado’ Torres. In her last fight, at Invicta 7, she won a dominant unanimous decision victory over fellow TUF castmate, Felice Herrig. Torres’ performance was the discussion point around the water cooler on Monday morning. Many pundits have Tecia as the early favorite to win the show, and become the first champion. I recently spoke with Tecia about TUF 20, the potential to become the first champion, her emotions now that she is a UFC fighter, and much more.
How she found out she was going to the UFC
I had just gotten back home from Kansas City, fighting for Invicta in my win over Felice. Tuesday night I got a call coming in from Nevada and my boyfriend jokingly said ‘Hey that’s Dana White’. I said ‘No it’s not’, so I picked it up and I hear ‘Tecia this is Dana White from the UFC’. I could not believe it, I was like no this is not. So, I put it on speaker, and he said ‘this is Dana White’. Of course I knew his voice from TV and the UFC. It was just crazy.
Her emotions now that she is a part of the UFC
It really is surreal. I have only been a professional fighter for a little over a year and two months. It has all moved really fast. I am going to be a part of the UFC, on national television, and it is just crazy.
Did you have any idea about TUF 20 before fighting at Invicta 7?
I knew the UFC had contacted my gym about me after my Rose Namajunas fight. I had heard though that there was no timeline on the 115 pound division. I was getting to the point where I didn’t know if I would be able to have a career in the UFC anytime soon. I heard a rumor about it, and got a call after my Rose fight, but nothing came about. I thought to myself, ‘okay stick with Invicta keep doing that’, but if I didn’t get a UFC shot anytime soon I would probably have to return back to work. It wasn’t enough money for me to keep fighting in Invicta. I knew Felice was one of the girls the UFC was talking about for the 115 pound division too. I really wanted to make sure I put on a good show that night because I knew the big guns were watching it.
The coaches of TUF 20
I have no idea who is coaching on the show yet. I think there are some girls vying to be the coach; if it is female coaches because of the all female cast. I have seen Liz Carmouche, Alexis Davis, and Jessica Eye vying for the spot as well. I would be really happy with any of those girls. I have personally met all three of them. I have gotten to train with Alexis and Jessica, so that would be amazing if they were my coaches. If male coaches are chosen, I would love Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson. They are the smallest guys in the UFC and they are at the top of their game, the champion and the #1 contender. Their body types would be more like us.
Do you feel like you have something to prove, for people who may not have seen you fight in Invicta?
Nothing really to prove. I just want to showcase my talent and skill. I want the whole world to know who I am. I believe I am truly one of the best fighters in the world. I am going to continue to grow, learn, and evolve. That is what you need to do in order to be someone great and have longevity in this sport. I hope to continue evolve, especially over the next five months I have to get ready for The Ultimate Fighter.
Would you have rather been signed directly to the UFC, rather than fight on TUF?
I did want to be just signed to the UFC, and not have to go into the house. But, the way they are doing this season, with the opportunity to be the first Strawweight UFC champion, we are not just vying for one contract. We are already with the UFC fighting in a tournament to become the first female 115 pound champion. The way they are doing it definitely makes me happier. If they were doing a regular season without a title, I would have much rather just been signed directly into the UFC.
The popularity of the show and potential viewership
I think the fact that it is going to be all women is going to attract a lot of people. Last season, the female fights had more viewers. I can imagine that with all 16 of us being female in the show, and a lot of the women are already known and have fans, it will be great. Also, you normally don’t know the cast five months ahead of the show. Now that fans know, they can go watch our previous fights and get excited for this season. And with 16 women in a house, there is going to be some cattiness and drama. There are already some twitter feuds going on with some of the girls. I can imagine how it will be for reality TV. The fights will be great because of the level of competition. They brought literally the best 115 pounders in the world. I think it will be amazing and the most viewed TUF thus far.
Will everyone be gunning for the former Invicta Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza?
I don’t think anyone is gunning for Carla. I think everyone knows that Carla is one of the better fighters on the cast. I think everyone is well aware that Claudia Gadelha, Jojo Calderwood, and myself are all right behind her and ready to take our title. You know, it is not Carla’s title anymore, this isn’t Invicta anymore. I am ready to take MY title home with me.