‘Russian Ronda’ Irina Alekseeva is heading to the UFC.
Alekseeva’s manager, Brian Butler, posted on his Instagram that the Judo specialist reportedly signed a deal with the global MMA promotion following her release from Bellator. Alekseeva, 32, holds a 4-1 professional MMA record with three silver medals from the Russian Judo Championships and a Russian and European gold medal at the Sambo Worlds.
Butler told MMA Junkie that Alekseeva would debut on the main roster for an expected strawweight appearance for her promotional debut. Formerly competing at featherweight and flyweight, this will be her first taste of the lighter weight class in MMA.
Alekseeva’s emergence into the UFC comes after a shocking release from Bellator. The company had inked Alekseeva to a multi-fight contract in December of 2020. Instead, Alekseeva went to compete once for the premier ShowTime organization, winning a unanimous decision over Stephanie Page in October 2021. It’s still unclear why Bellator would release such a hot commodity after only one appearance.
Can Irina Alekseeva Become The Next UFC Female Star?
Since 2013, the UFC has been developing its female talent over multiple weight classes. However, with budding prospects like Ronda Rousey, Amanda Nunes and Valentino Schevchenko all reaching star status over the last decade, it begs the question of who’s next. Rousey was an enigma amongst the UFC female contenders; her star power was so substantial that even fighters took her name as a nickname, like Irina Alekseeva.
As Rousey did, Irina carries a very high caliber of grappling prowess into the Octagon. Could she pull off becoming the next UFC female superstar? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image credits to @slava_alex_mma on Instagram