Since joining the combat sports world at 14, and making her MMA debut at 18, Aspen Ladd has earned notable victories across a range of promotions, including the PFL. Ladd has traded wins and losses over her last five fights, and she makes her Bellator debut tonight after a 2-2 record in her first four PFL fights, which includes a decision win over Bellator Featherweight Champion Julia Budd. Ladd last fought at the 2023 PFL World Championships, losing in a showcase bout against former two-time PFL Champion Kayla Harrison.


A grappling specialist, Ekaterina Shakalova made her professional MMA debut in June 2019. She has only tasted defeat once in her nine pro fights thus far, entering tonight’s card with a seven-fight win streak. With four submissions to her credit thus far, Shakalova made her Bellator debut at Bellator 298, scoring a split decision win over Dayana Silva.


Can Ladd score the victory in her Bellator debut, or can Shakalova get what would certainly be the biggest win of her career thus far?



Round 1


Combination from Shakalova. One-two from Shakalova. Shakalova goes from a combination but gets hit with a counter left from Ladd. Shakalova with another combination as the two circle one another. Shakalova with three more punches. Shakalova with a kick to the body. One-two from Shakalova, and Ladd answers with a left hand. Shakalova changes levels and goes for a single-leg takedown, but Ladd gets out of it. Both women throw a combination. Ladd continues to use the left hand as a counter. Body kick from Shakalova, but Ladd lands another left hand.


Shakalova level changes again and scores the takedown, but Ladd drags herself to the fence and gets back to her feet. Ladd lands a knee, but Shakalova rolls and gets to Ladd’s back. Ladd gets out of it, and the fight quickly returns to the feet. Ladd with a sprawl as Shakalova level changes again. More knees to the midsection by Ladd. Shakalova now on the back foot. Shakalova level changes again, but Ladd saw it coming. Shakalova tries to use her punching in the clinch, but Ladd lands a couple of more knees. Shakalova lands a takedown, but Ladd gets in control with a butterfly sweep. Ladd on the front foot as she controls the striking late in the round; Shakalova looks fatigued and slips before the bell.



Round 2


Combination from Shakalova to open things. One-two from Ladd. Round kick from Shakalova. The two firing off flurries, and Ladd pushes Shakalova into the fence. Shakalova reverses the position after some struggle. Strong knee from Ladd in the clinch before it’s broken. Both firing off punches in close. Left hand from Ladd, and she is walking Shakalova down. Ladd sprawls on another takedown attempt from Shakalova. The fight goes back to the feet, but Shakalova presses Ladd into the fence.


The two battle for position near the fence. Shakalova pressing Ladd in, who is trying to get underhooks in. Another combination from Ladd. Short elbow from Ladd. Ladd goes for a guillotine! Shakalova rolls and escapes the guillotine! Shakalova now has Ladd against the SmartCage again. Ladd reverses the position. Knee upstairs from Ladd. Shakalova reverses the position now. Ladd on the neck again. With 30 seconds left in the round, the referee separates the two. Shakalova quickly brings the fight back down again with a takedown. Ladd sprawls, and the round ends with the two clinched up against the fence.




Round 3


Shakalova starts the round with another takedown attempt but gets stopped. She gets it on the second attempt of the round, however. Shakalova gets to the back, and she’s holding onto it despite Ladd’s rolling and her returning to the feet. After about a minute, Ladd reverses the position and gets a takedown of her own. Ladd gets on top, trying to get full control of Shakalova’s back. After a lack of action, the referee returns the fight to the feet, with Shakalova slow to get up. Shakalova lands a jab. Shakalova with a combination. Shakalova misses a spinning backfist, as Ladd goes to the body. Ladd with a left hook.


Ladd throws a combination, and she gets right to Shakalova’s back again. Ladd presses Shakalova against the fence briefly. Both women try to work combinations, and Ladd scores another sprawl. Ladd with a couple of left hands. Shakalova with a combination. The two are just trading away on the feet here, and Shakalova briefly gets Ladd to the fence. After some more trading, Shakalova goes for a takedown attempt. Ladd defending well and landing a few right hands. Ladd reaches over and looks for a face crank. The two jockey for position along the fence. The clinch separates with about 30 seconds left. Shakalova goes for another takedown attempt, but Ladd avoids it. Ladd sprawls on one more takedown attempt from Shakalova. Ladd lands a couple of high kicks before the bell.


What a fight!





Aspen Ladd defeats Ekaterina Shakalova by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2) in a women’s featherweight bout