The UFC brought Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino into the UFC with an eye towards slowly dropping to 135 for a superfight with the then seemingly unbeatable Ronda Rousey. Unfortunately, Rousey turned out to be human, and the catchweight cuts brutalized Justino.
Then the UFC determined to start a new women’s featherweight division, and twice offered Cyborg a shot at the inaugural belt. She declined, citing the need to recover from the last cut.
UFC president Dana White said the new division was coming anyway, and it is. Holly Holm, on a two-fight losing streak, will face Germaine de Randamie, who is ranked outside the top 10 for the new belt.
“I’m happy the UFC created my division,” said Cyborg to Guilherme Cruz for MMA Fighting following the announcement. “It’s been 11 years I’m fighting for women to have the same rights as men with several divisions.”
“Everybody knows I’m the featherweight champion. I’m undefeated for 10 years in my division. They put this belt only to sell the fight for the new MMA fans. For an example, Holly is coming off two consecutive losses and will fight for the belt. The real fight fans know what’s real.”
“I have no idea, there are no rules in MMA. The last fight in the men’s 145-pound division, a 10-0 fighter fought a guy who was 1-5 in his last fights. Other fighters like me have to wait for a title fight. I’m fighting for my division for 10 years, and until yesterday Dana said there were no women. This is our reality.”
Anthony Pettis was in fact 1-3 heading into his fight with the undefeated Holloway at UFC 206. But he was a former champion, dropping a division, where he would presumably do better. Holm and de Randamie are moving in the other direction, up a division. Holm is on a two fight losing streak, and de Randamie is ranked outside the top 10, at bantamweight.
When the UFC started a women’s strawweight division, they got 11 fighters from Invicta, and dedicated a season of TUF. This feels beyond hasty, in the extreme. After saying repeatedly that the depth is not there for a women’s division at 145, what’s the rush now, such that you choose a fighter not even in the top 10 a weight class down, vs. a fighter on an 0-2 streak?