Aspen Ladd is ready for a fresh start with her PFL debut on Friday following the end of her UFC run.
Her UFC release came after seven fights and after she failed to make weight multiple times. The 27-year-old fighter holds no ill will against the company for that decision. If anything, she believes it was the best course for her career, because now she’ll get to compete at a more natural weight at 145 pounds, and she’ll only be tasked with winning as a measure of her success in the cage.
” We all know that MMA does not rely on skill anymore,” Ladd explained to MMA Fighting. It’s not about how well you talk, or what prominent features are. This is what we are taking out.
” It’s all about who is the best. Who’s the best at what they do. Not at what they say or how they look. That’s definitely an appealing part of this promotion.”
Ladd accepted that her UFC experience might not be the best because she didn’t behave crazy on social media or on microphones.
Ladd never wanted to be disingenuous with the way she carried herself. But she’s seen plenty of other fighters willing to act out, even if it’s completely out of character for them.
“There’s a lot of discount Conor [McGregors] these days and they’re doing it just because they want the attention but it’s so insincere,” Ladd said. They are not like that. It’s not something they are good at. It’s just like, come on, but you all know why someone’s trying to do that or trying to present themselves in a certain way, or feel like they have to do certain things to get the attention.”
In many ways Ladd saw the promotion side of UFC as part of her reality. She is happy, however, that the PFL has largely eliminated that element.
” It would be incredible if all we had to do was judge on our merits, but that’s not what Ladd stated. “That’s not part of it. It’s an entertainment sport. You’ve got to be good, and you’ve got to promote yourself in a certain way – it is what it is.
“[With the PFL] Apart from the format, it’s a tournament-style style and you always know how many fights there will be. You must do well but it was appealing to me .”
Another benefit to joining the PFL roster is the inclusion in 2023 of a new 145-pound women’s division, which is where Ladd will compete.
Ideally, she said she would have fought at featherweight in the UFC, but it was made abundantly clear to her that there was no real interest in developing that division.
“I’ve said this already, but if somebody is in the UFC fighting at 145 and they can drop [to bantamweight], they need to,” Ladd said. “Otherwise, they need to start looking at other options because I don’t think that weight class is going to be there for much longer.
” It exists only so Amanda [Nunes] has two belts. If it’s around for a while, I doubt they will put much effort in it.
Meanwhile, the PFL has plans to put together an entire season around the featherweight division with the winner ultimately earning a $1 million prize after claiming the championship. Currently, the PFL promotes a 155-pound division, but all signs are pointing toward a focus on featherweight starting in 2023.
The commitment to growing a legitimate 145-pound division is one of the many reasons why Ladd chose the PFL as her new fighting home.
” “It’s really exciting,” she stated. “Obviously a lot of the chicks can drop [down in weight], but they’re also going to bringing in new ones. This is just the beginning of something, and it’s a place I’m happy to be .”