Wales prop Tomas Francis has signed a new deal with Exeter Chiefs, the Aviva Premiership side have announced.Francis, 24, saw his current contract extended by the club and will now ply his trade at Sandy Park until 2019.The 14-time capped Wales international has impressed since moving to Exeter from London Scottish two years ago and joins the likes of Luke Cowan-Dickie, Henry Slade and Jack Nowell in signing a fresh deal with the Chiefs in recent weeks.And head coach Rob Baxter is pleased to have extended Francis stay and wants to help him continue his development during that time.In Toms last contract, the club had a clause in there that we could extend the contract if certain terms were met, he told the clubs official website.We have decided to go with that, and have extended his deal by a further two years beyond the end of the 2016-17 season.I know he is delighted with that, and we are obviously very pleased that a player who came to us from the Championship and has been with us for a couple of seasons now sees his long-term future with us.Hopefully we can help keep developing him as not only a Premiership and European quality player, but also as an international. 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The candidates -- all previously announced in their own countries -- are: Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing; Krakow, Poland; Lviv, Ukraine; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm. Wrestlers Miesha Tate, Cat Zingano and Julianna Pena might be dominating the Octagon these days, but the next generation of MMA hopefuls is nipping at their heels -- even if they dont know it yet.We scoured the rankings and spoke with MMA insider and Invicta FC matchmaker Julie Kedzie about who could follow in the footsteps of these top women fighters, and these are the 5 young fighters we have our eye on.The Next Big (Little) Thing: Alexa Grasso, 22, MMAIf youve never seen Alexa Grasso in the cage, it can be hard to imagine the sweet-faced, soft-spoken girl from Guadalajara, Mexico, dominating in hand-to-hand combat. Then you look at her record (7-0) and watch her clips (the first-round TKO of Alida Gray at Invicta FC 11?is particularly impressive) and the incongruity starts to resolve.Grasso the fighter has a lurch to her step that puts her strawweight opponents on their back foot; its a little unsettling, for a number of reasons. Her flurries are merciless -- Grays TKO came after a particularly brutal ground-and-pound. Dana White himself has called her a badass.And then she gets on the phone, shy, careful about her English, and says: I know theres a lot of fighters who like to talk bad about their opponents and say nasty things, and I want to change that. I want to be the kind of fighter who can show the world and everybody that you dont have to be that kind of person.Initially scared off by the violence of martial arts, Grasso came around with the encouragement of her father. She began her training at age 15 in Muay Thai at her uncles gym. Thats also where she met her best friend, Invicta bantamweight Irene Aldana.A shoulder injury this past fall kept Grasso out of Invicta FC 14 and 15. She was close to fighting Stephanie Eggink in March at Invicta 16 but Grasso broke a finger. The inability to train left her down.Grasso says she didnt even really get a taste for the physical punishment of MMA until about three years ago, when she fought Karina Rodriguez at Xtreme Kombat 20 in Mexico. Grasso won, but she took a beating, ending the fight with a bloodied nose after sustaining kicks and knees to the face.That was a really, really hard fight for me and that was the one where I tested myself, Grasso said.While she makes no secret of the fact that shes gunning for the Invicta title and the UFC, shes aware of how much she still has left to learn. Everybody thinks that Im a veteran and Ive read comments about how I should be better in many ways, she said. But I only have seven fights. Im just a blue belt, and kind of want to say, Hey, Im just out here starting my career!Which is all to say, when she headlines Invicta 18 on July 29 against Jodie Esquibel, shell come in hungry and, as ever, cheerful.The Prodigy: Mizuki Inoue, 21, MMAWhen Japanese strawweight Mizuki Inoue was in fourth grade, she attended her brothers MMA class and was immediately drawn to the sport. Why? Because basically anything goes [in MMA], Mizuki said through a translator.By 16, Inoue, who goes by Mizuki in the cage, was fighting professionally -- and winning -- for a Japanese promotion company called Jewels. Within three years, Invicta FC came calling, and it was then that the teenager realized the industry had taken notice. Since then, I have set my goals to become an Invicta champion, she said.Not that the transition has come without a degree of culture shock. When I first started fighting for Invicta, I was very surprised about how big the stage production was, she said. Everything looked bright and shiny to me, so it was a really good experience. And also when I come to the U.S., the fans are very exciting. Theyre very loud -- it pushes me so much.While shes 11-4 overall as a pro, Mizuki has a split record of 2-2 in Invicta bouts, with decision losses to Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Alexa Grasso. For so young a fighter, however, that may not be such a bad thing.The truth of the matter is, those fights could have gone either way, said Kedzie. Its good to get those fights out of your system and understand they were close. Her last fight with Lacey Schuckman was insanely good. She destroyed her. She was really composed and much more aggressive than shes been.According to manager Shu Hirata, the UFC has already noticed the young phenom and offered her a spot in the strawweight division when it was first created. After discussing it with her trainer, Inoue decided to remain with Invicta to gain more experience -- at least for another year. Shell have her chance on July 29, when she faces off against Lynn Alvarez at Invicta FC 18.And while she does see herself as a champion-to-be at the all-female promotion, shes taking each step as it comes.When you look at my record, theres a lot of fights on my resume, but I still dont feel like a veteran yet, Mizuki said. Im still improving, and Im on my way to the title fight, but I still feel maybe its too early.The Double Threat: Tiffany van Soest, 27, Muay Thai and MMAIf I didnt fight I would surf a lot more, said kickboxer and newly minted MMA fighter Tiffany van Soest from her home in Bali. Theres a lot to do here -- volcanoes, hiking, waterfalls.The Torrrance, California, native speaks with an intensity one wouldnt expect from someone living in paradise.ddddddddddddTruth is, its hard to imagine shes ever quite still. Van Soest splits her time between Bali, where she trains, teaches muay Thai and volunteers as a martial arts coach at a local orphanage, and California, where she does pre-fight camp.The former Lion Fight super bantamweight and featherweight transitioned to Muay Thai in her teens after spending most of her childhood practicing karate. From then on, she was nearly unstoppable, amassing a 10-1 amateur record and going 15-2-1 as a pro with nine titles by the age of 27. She even squeezed in a little amateur MMA (1-1).But as good as her record was, it was difficult to support herself financially. Its part of the reason she moved to Bali, where the cost of living is lower.I felt good about my accomplishments, van Soest said. As long as Ive been doing it, and for how old I am, I thought I should be making a lot more.Shortly after Invicta FC began courting her, premier kickboxing promotion Glory reached out as well.?Faced with choosing between a new challenge and her longtime passion, she opted for both.Glory is, hands-down, the biggest, most prestigious kickboxing promotion in the world, she says. When they approached me, I felt like I was getting what I really deserved for the work I put in. It made me feel like a true professional athlete.Shes already made her Glory premiere, defeating Emma Hasshass by unanimous decision at Glory 30 in May. Her first pro MMA fight is expected in September. I think her transition [to MMA] is going to be very smooth and go over very well, Kedzie said.Asked about a timeline for making it to UFC, van Soest said: I want to make sure Im ready because those girls are the best in the world. I dont want to get there just to say I got there. When I get there Im going to be the champion, so I want to make sure Im fully ready, that my skills are fully developed to not only compete at that level, but to dominate.The Veteran: Ava Knight, 27, boxerThe Lady of Boxing started her journey to five championship belts as a quiet 13-year-old in Chico, California. Between the ages of 14 and 18, the flyweight racked up 28 amateur wins and only four losses -- impressive considering how few fights women were getting in the early 2000s.Going pro was easier at first; she took newbies and champs alike, often traveling to Mexico to do so. But the 14-2-4 champ learned something along the way that complicated her career trajectory.Beating the good girls, the undefeated girls, winning world championships -- it just started getting harder and harder because now you feel like youre worth something, Knight said. As a woman, nobody was treating me like I had that value. Ive spent the last few years trying to hold my value but still fight. Its hard.Shes turned down a number of low-paying fights and now has her eyes set on a new challenge: MMA, where she says women are valued. She recently caught the eye of UFC and NFL insider Jay Glazer, who invited her to train at his gym once she finishes up touring with Joe Jonas (who shes training, not singing with).Its not that Im done with boxing, she said, I would love to beat up all these prospects that they think are great. But what does that do for me? Im just beating up the girls that are trying to make it in the sport. Where in MMA its this whole new field of girls, but I know I can beat them.Only 27, shes considered a veteran, which may put her at an advantage against young MMA prospects who cant handle the limelight. As Kedzie put it, I like individuals in this sport who can stand on their own two feet and try to push their own boundaries. Someone with that much talent can go extremely far in MMA.The Olympian: Helen Maroulis, 24, wrestlerOkay, so technically we dont know if Helen Maroulis has given much thought to a possible MMA transition. She has a lot on her plate these days, after all -- shes representing the United States at the 2016 Olympics.The 116-pound wrestler has enough national championship medals to cover a wall, including the 2015 World Wrestling Championship title and two World Cup championships. Shes ranked No. 1 on Team USA in her weight category.Like a lot of female MMA fighters, Maroulis grew up fighting boys -- through elementary, middle and high school. Once in college, she took four Womens College Wrestling Association titles and barely missed making qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. She won this years qualifier in Mongolia to book a ticket to Rio.MMA and UFC in particular have a long history of welcoming former wrestlers into its ranks. Theres something about female wrestlers in particular that I think, God you must be so tough, says Kedzie. The sport grinds you up and spits you out.Theres something about how [Maroulis] competes that I just find fascinating, and I want to keep watching her. I think shed make a really good transition to MMA.Heres hoping Maroulis agrees. For now, we wish her the best in Rio. Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys Jerseys NFL Cheap Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Jerseys 2018 Cheap Jerseys 2019 Wholesale Jerseys 2020 China NFL Jerseys China Jerseys Cheap NFL Black Jerseys Cheap Stitched Jerseys China Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale NFL Hoodies Cheap Jerseys 2020 Cheap Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys NFL China ' ' '