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The Ultimate Fighter 26 to crown inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion

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Gallery Photo: UFC 159 media day photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

(UPDATE: A UFC official confirmed with MMA Fighting on Wednesday that the season has not been officially approved yet and the press release sent out announcing the start of the women’s flyweight division was “premature.”)

A fourth women’s division is coming soon to the UFC.

The UFC announced Wednesday that the upcoming 26th season of The Ultimate Fighter will exclusively feature the women’s flyweight division, with the goal of crowning the UFC’s inaugural 125-pound champion in the season’s finals.

All women currently on the UFC roster will be allowed to submit their names for the tournament, as will females currently unsigned by the UFC. One signed 135-pounder has already thrown her name into the ring, too, as UFC bantamweight Lauren Murphy told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani on Wednesday that she intends to try out for the show.

Tryouts are scheduled for Tuesday, May 23 at 8 a.m. PT in Las Vegas, Nevada. Information for potential applicants can be found here.

The news comes just months after UFC president Dana White told reporters in Las Vegas that the UFC had no plans to institute any further women’s divisions in 2017 other than women’s featherweight. It also cancels plans the UFC previously had to hold a TUF 26 casting call for women’s strawweight, women’s bantamweight, and men’s middleweight.

The UFC currently has three female divisions, ranging from strawweight (115 pounds), to bantamweight (135 pounds), to the newly created featherweight (145 pounds) division that was instituted this past January at UFC 208.

Notably, in June 2016, the UFC staged an official women’s flyweight fight between strawweight/bantamweight tweeners Joanne Calderwood and Valerie Letourneau at UFC Fight Night 89 — a fight which Calderwood won via third-round TKO. At the time, the contest was deemed to be a one-off.

But now it appears the flyweights are here to stay.