It’s finally happening.
After years of turning a blind eye to the world’s best 145-pound female mixed martial artist, Dana White and the UFC are finally embracing the featherweight ladies and giving them the sport’s ultimate stage. UFC 208 will be headlined by a women’s 145-pound title fight between former bantamweight champion Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie. The fight will decide the promotion’s first female featherweight champion. Exciting stuff, right?
Let’s not get all giddy with this booking. It’s not as though we’re getting the two absolute best featherweights to battle for this crown, and it’s definitely not a fight people have been clamoring for since women came to the UFC in early 2013. Instead, it seems like we’re getting a product birthed from the need to book a title fight, using alternate pieces that just happen to be available, like, hey, you free Feb. 11? Yeah? Okay, cool, whatever.
This isn’t to say that the UFC doesn’t need a women’s featherweight division. On the contrary, it very much does. This fight, though? Not so much.
Let’s go through the five reasons why we don’t need a women’s featherweight title fight … yet.
5. Holly Holm has lost her last two fights
Far too often in recent memory has UFC matchmaking been more about the name than the rank, and the UFC 208 main event is another example of it. Holm is a former champion and a name people likely know. After all, she is the first woman to hand Ronda Rousey a loss in the Octagon, and that no doubt put her name in the headlines. But Holm’s next two fights gave her the first two losses of her career, one of which came with her losing the belt she just won, getting choked out by Miesha Tate.
I get that the UFC has to sell tickets to get people inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., but maybe it should consider giving title shots to people on actual winning streaks? It’s tougher to sell a card when the headliner hasn’t won a fight since 2015.
4. This is a 145-pound title fight with 135-pound fighters
Fighters typically cut copious amounts of weight to fight in their divisions. Different story this time around.
Both Holm and de Randamie have UFC experience, but only in the 135-pound division and they’re coming up a division to force this fight on you. The promotion didn’t even book two fighters who have had recent fights at 145 pounds. All the while, Shannon Knapp is over at Invicta FC with an arsenal of ladies who can fill the featherweight void.
Speaking of Invicta …
3. Meagan Anderson is a name you should get to know before there’s a UFC featherweight title fight
If you’re one of the hardcore fans who eats every bit of fight time this sport throws at you, then you probably know who Megan Anderson is. If you’re a casual fan, you should get on YouTube and see this woman throw hands.
Anderson is the current Invicta FC interim featherweight champion and one tough woman of mixed martial artistry. Had it not been for the UFC forcing a featherweight title on Feb. 11, we could have seen Anderson come off her win last month and enter the Octagon later this year to compete for the inaugural UFC women’s 145-pound belt, and the company could have sold the storyline of her being a champ from the best all-woman promotion on the planet. Missed opportunity.
2. Let’s look 20 pounds lighter at a UFC flyweight division
Yes, we need a featherweight division. But there’s just as big of a case — maybe even a bigger one — for a 125-pound women’s division in the UFC.
There are fighters looking like they’re killing themselves to get down to the 115-pound limit so that they can compete in the promotion. Valerie Letourneau, for example, has brutal weight cuts to get down to the strawweight limit because she’s too small to compete at 135 pounds. With another division added to the mix, Letourneau and others don’t have to straddle the 20-pound difference between strawweight and bantamweight, dreading the next time they have to dehydrate themselves to 115 or jump up to be a punching bag for the fighters at 135.
Once again, call Shannon Knapp.
1. The first UFC women’s featherweight title fight should have Cris Cyborg in it
It’s a no-brainer.
There’s no doubt that the absolute best female featherweight fighter on the planet is Cris “Cyborg” Justino. She’s destroyed everyone at 145 pounds and there’s not much chance that habit is going to stop any time soon.
It’s only obvious that she’s the best pick to feature in a UFC’s first female featherweight title fight, especially when the UFC President himself admitted he made the women’s featherweight class for her. He also said she turned down two title fights, but she countered that by saying she only wanted the date pushed back so she can appropriately cut weight. Maybe they should have listened to her.
But, then again, there’s that whole potential doping violation Cyborg is dealing with from USADA. Yikes.
Yeah, that’s a big drawback, but even with the potential one-year ban for a prohibited substance, the UFC could have waited for Cyborg’s issue to clear before booking the featherweight title fight because there’s no guarantee she’ll be out that long. They waited this long to make the 145-pound title fight, why not wait a bit longer?
In the long run, Cyborg will eventually get her shot, whether it be against Holm or de Randamie. But until then, we’re having the first UFC women’s featherweight fight for gold between fighters who aren’t even true featherweights, on a card that’s asking 41-year-old Anderson Silva to come in and help with pay-per-view buys. Sigh.