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Tonya Evinger on the UFC: 'I think they don’t really care about the women'

Esther Lin, Invicta FC

Tonya Evinger is arguably the top women's bantamweight fighter in the world not currently in the UFC. And that suits her just fine.

The outspoken Missouri native could not be any happier in Invicta FC and has no real designs on leaving the all-women's promotion any time soon. Evinger will meet Cindy Dandois in the co-main event of Invicta FC 10 on Friday night in Houston and foresees an active, successful 2015 coming up. The fights will air live at 9 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

It isn't that Evinger does not want to face the top 135-pounders in the world. She's already been in the cage with several of them. She just shares a different philosophy with the UFC and its use of women's fighters.

"I think they don't really care about the women," Evinger said. "Ronda Rousey is their main worry. She's what they're concerned with."

Evinger (14-5) partly understands why the UFC pushes Rousey, the women's bantamweight champion, so hard. "Rowdy" is their big moneymaker and one of the top stars in the entire organization -- man or woman. What Evinger doesn't get is that, in her opinion, the UFC doesn't give enough shine to Rousey's challengers and the rest of the division. She points out that there are only four of 15 ranked women's 135-pound athletes in the UFC booked for bouts currently.

"I think they're missing the whole point," Evinger said. "They put all the effort in promoting certain people and that's it. It's like when guys like B.J. Penn and Chuck Liddell retired, they didn't build new guys under them. Now no one knows who some of these people are. I think that they're making that same mistake with the women. They're putting all the limelight and the exposure on one woman and forgetting about everyone else."

In fairness to the UFC, the organization has featured its brand new 115-pound women's division on this season of The Ultimate Fighter and the champion will be crowned in the main event of the TUF 20 Finale on Dec. 12 in Las Vegas. Plus, Evinger herself will be competing on UFC airwaves Friday night. Invicta inked a broadcast deal with UFC Fight Pass in June.

Evinger, 33, made the cut for the 18th season of the Ultimate Fighter, but did not make the house, falling to Raquel Pennington on the premier episode. She believes that worked out in her favor.

"I don't care about the UFC," Evinger said. "Everybody thinks that's the end all, be all to it. I want to be somewhere they appreciate me. I want to be somewhere they're excited to see me fight and keep me active. I just don't think the UFC is that way. Girls there are active, but not getting that much exposure."

In Invicta, Evinger can be a headline attraction. A win over Dandois is big for her career. Evinger has won five straight, including a first-round submission win over Ediane Gomes in September. Her last loss came to former UFC No. 1 contender Sara McMann in 2011 in Titan FC and her two losses before that came against Alexis Davis, another former UFC No. 1. Evinger's only other defeats were versus Gina Carano and Vanessa Porto.

Despite only losing to top opponents, Evinger remains underrated. This will only be her third bout under the Invicta banner, but she's hoping for a long stay.

"I don't think a lot of people know me, so they think bad things about me," Evinger said. "Even fights I lost, I think I should have won. Sara McMann laid on me for 15 minutes. She didn't do no damage, I broke her nose."

There was talk Evinger might have been Cris "Cyborg" Justino's first foe at 135 pounds until Justino got hurt and had to pull out of a planned bout at Invicta 10. Evinger thinks that would have been a bad choice for "Cyborg."

"I don't think that should have been a fight she should have taken if she wants to fight at 135 and get in the UFC," Evinger said.

She added: "I don't think that would have been the smartest fight for her. I definitely don't think I would have went in and whooped her ass or anything. I just think my strengths are her weaknesses."

Justino might be looking for a spot in the UFC in 2015, but Evinger sure won't be. She's happy fighting as much as possible -- every event would be her wish -- for Invicta.

"I would think [the UFC] would put a girl fight on every card at this point," Evinger said. "Do I want to be that person waiting around? Hell no. Do I want to be that very bottom person in the rankings getting no exposure? Hell no."

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