The UFC has finally created a women’s 145-pound weight division but surprisingly, the planet’s universally-recognized best female featherweight won’t be fighting when the inaugural belt becomes up for grabs.
On Tuesday, the UFC announced that former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm will fight Germaine de Randamie for the first UFC women’s featherweight title at UFC 208 in a bout that has been installed as the main event for the Brooklyn, New York event scheduled for February 11, 2017:
— UFC (@ufc) December 14, 2016
If the UFC suddenly creating a women’s featherweight division was surprising, then doing the inaugural title fight without Cris Cyborg is an even bigger surprise.
Cyborg, the current Invicta FC featherweight titleholder, has been the chief advocate of a women’s featherweight division in the UFC for quite some time. Since crossing over to the promotion in 2016, Cyborg has fought twice, but at a catchweight of 140 pounds because the UFC wouldn’t ‘accommodate’ her request to build a featherweight division around her. In fact, it was UFC President Dana White himself who once said there was insufficient talent to invest in a women’s 145-pound division. Not anymore, I guess. And yeah, sorry Cris Cyborg.
But the absence of Cyborg isn’t really a snub at all. White claimed the Brazilian knockout artist turned down two opportunities to fight for the UFC’s inaugural women’s featherweight title. Cyborg clarified that she didn’t turn down any offer but that she asked for a later March 2017 fight date. Regardless, it’s Holm who now has the biggest opportunity to break out of a current two-fight losing skid.
After winning the UFC women’s bantamweight title with a shocking knockout of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, Holm has lost back-to-back bouts to Miesha Tate and Valentina Schevchenko. Now the 35-year-old former boxing world champion has an instant path to redemption against the UFC’s No. 11-ranked women’s bantamweight fighter.
Dutch fighter de Randamie won her UFC debut fight against Julie Kedzie in 2013 via split decision and is currently 3-1 in the UFC with an overall professional record of 6-3. The former kickboxing and Muay Thai champion enters the fight against Holm with two back-to-back knockout wins in her last two fights.
The UFC women’s featherweight division is sure to produce some great fights in 2017.