Boxing traditionally had eight weight divisions and eight champions. It made things easy to remember and appreciate. UFC president Dana White is an old student of the sweet science; it is no coincidence that there are eight divisions for men in the UFC.
There were only two weight divisions for women – 115 and 125. Women flyweights could move up to 135 or down to 115. Women featherweights could drop, and women atomweights could move up. So the talent was deep.
The greatest female fighter in MMA is Cris Cyborg and the UFC engaged in a years-long effort to bring her down to 135 for a superfight with Ronda Rousey. However, the cuts took too much out of her and she eventually said no more.
Cyborg was offered a title fight at her actual weight, but she declined, citing the need to recover from the last cut.
“She was offered two fights, at 145 pounds, she turned them both down,” said White. “The first fight, she said she only had eight weeks and that wasn’t enough time to make 145 pounds. And then she gave no reason for the second time. … we’re going to make a 145-pound division, whether it’s with Cyborg or not.”
Holly Holm will fight Germaine de Randamie at UFC 208 on on February 11, 2017 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
De Randamie has fought just three times in the past three years, losing to Amanda Nunes on November 6, 2013, and then beating Larissa Pacheco on March 14, 2015 and Anna Elmose on May 8 of this year. It was Elmose’s fourth fight, and first in the UFC. She would lose once more and retire. Pacheco was coming off a loss in her UFC debut.De Randamie is currently ranked #11 at bantamweight.
Holm won the women’s bantamweight title defeating Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 on November 15, 2015, in Melbourne, Australia. She then lost the title to Miesha Tate, and lost to Valentina Shevchenko. So Holm is getting a title shot, up a division, coming off two losses, vs. a fighter outside the top 10.
Winner gets to fight Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino.
In 2014 when the UFC decided to add a new women’s strawweight division they got 11 fighters from Invicta FC. Claudia Gadelha couldn’t stay on weight and was dropped, Juliana Lima had insufficient English and was dropped, and Paige VanZant was too young and was dropped. Eight other fighters were added via tryouts, leaving 16 for a tournament. That tournament produced Carla Esparza, who would go on to lose her title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. It was a very cool way to add a new division, and it worked.
Adding a new division this way is bizarro.