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Rising Stars: Aspen Ladd

Rising star, Aspen Ladd, makes her UFC Main Event debut when she headlines UFC Sacramento on July 13

Aspen Ladd is weeks away from being a UFC main event. Comeback artist Darren Elkins, submission ace Ryan Hall and UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber will be among the likes of those warming up the Octagon for the undefeated, 24-year-old rising star.

On Twitter, immediately following her weight class, record, location and UFC ranking, Ladd throws back to her MMA roots by also including "(Invicta Alumni)."

Ladd’s ascension to an 8-0 record and main event status began when she was recruited from Invicta FC over two years ago. January 14, 2017 was the last time fighting under the Invicta banner and her loyalty has never changed.

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“I’m very big on gratitude and appreciation who’s helped you and been there along the way and Shannon Knapp is why I am where I am now,” Ladd said. “She gave me the opportunity to fight my first five fights for her and develop my fighting style and who I am as a fighter. I’m proud that I fought for her.”

To Ladd, it’s almost as if Invicta FC is the perfect combination of a collegiate sports program meeting a Triple-A baseball team. It’s an effective developmental ground as well as a promotion the 24-year-old takes great pride in and pushes others toward.

“I was lucky enough to go pro with Invicta straight off of being an amateur, so I didn’t have to deal with janky, local shows,” Ladd said. “Invicta runs their show in a very professional way, very similar to the UFC in a much lower level as far as the amount of media, the amount of production but it sets you up to where you understand and you’re prepared for this kind of situation with the media for fight buildup and everything you have to do you’ve already done a certain level of it.”

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In a sport where it’s not unheard of for even teammates to have to clash from time to time, Invicta FC is a promotion where the atmosphere is “wary” at worst. A lack of lingering ill will or animosity expedites the sharpening process for a budding fighter.

The process doesn’t take long either. In Ladd’s bantamweight division alone, you see champion Lauren Murphy leave for the UFC only 204 days after winning her title. Immediately after losing UFC caliber talent, Invicta FC crowns a new champ, Tonya Evinger. The eight fight Invicta veteran was as much of a staple as the promotion could ever ask for at the time before also leaving for the UFC. Yana Kunitskaya followed suit after performance of the night and two memorable fights with Evinger.

Invicta FC suffers from one of the best problems an MMA promotion can have. An overabundance of young talent.

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“Invicta has become basically the feeding ground basically for the UFC as far as women,” Ladd said. “It’s not going to ever run dry because now we have that platform.”

To call Invicta the biggest UFC farm is an understatement with fighters such as Cris Cyborg, Amanda Nunes, Michelle Waterson, Carla Esparza and many more all putting in time with Invicta, it’s hard to deny Ladd’s claims that the carousel will continue.

Ahead of UFC Sacramento, Ladd opposes comparing the progression of other “rising stars” to her own but feels that anybody who has been lucky enough to compete for Invicta is a step and a half ahead of the pack and that’s why she takes every fight with poise and remains perfect so far with the message to any up and coming female mixed martial artist, don’t worry just about making it to the UFC. Go from “good” to ready by honing in Invicta FC.

“We wouldn’t have progressed as far or as fast as we have if Invicta wasn’t around,” Ladd said.

Catch all of Ladd’s professional fights HERE: