The time is now for the UFC to finally introduce a women’s featherweight division.
UFC: Time to Create a Women’s Featherweight Division
In a 2008 interview, UFC President Dana White told Michael Landsberg on TSN’s Off The Record that the UFC could not make a women’s division in the UFC because there was simply not enough depth to warrant creating a division.
“There aren’t enough good women to make a division” said White. “It’s the same problem boxing had.”
Several years later, a strong case can be made that the UFC is long overdue to introduce a women’s featherweight division; the promotion’s third female weight division.
At UFC on Fox 20, Valentina Shevchenko was able to score the upset as she defeated Holly Holm by unanimous decision in a five-round headliner. For Holm, the competitive loss to Shevchenko was not a big enough setback to push her out of the title picture but it was a setback none the less.
With the title being shifted around like a hot potato, the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division is as unpredictable as any other weight division within the company. Many fighters are looking to secure their title shots, and for Holm, it could potentially be a long time before she finds herself battling for UFC gold.
So where does Holm go from here? Does she wait it out and hope to work her way back up to the title scene? The unfortunate reality for Holm is that there is simply no alternative weight division for her to compete in.
As other ranked contenders Miesha Tate, Juliana Pena, and eventually Ronda Rousey will all be looking to have their shots at the UFC title. Because the division is considerably top-heavy, Holm is dangerously close to being unnecessarily lost in the shuffle.
Enter Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos
By creating a women’s featherweight division, it would also settle the lingering dilemma about what the UFC is to do with current Invicta featherweight champion and UFC star Cristiane Santos, better known as Cyborg.
Cyborg has been calling for the UFC to make a women’s featherweight division for some time now. For years, the fantasy match-up was Ronda Rousey vs. Santos due to both of them seemingly being unbeatable at the times. While talk of this bout came up every now and then, Santos was never really close to signing off on a bout at 135lbs.
Santos made her long awaited UFC debut back in May at UFC 198; where she won by TKO stoppage in the first round against Leslie Smith. This particular bout however was fought at a catch-weight of 140lbs.
After the initial excitement wore off, the hype surrounding Santos seemed to diminish. With the Brazilian finally a part of the UFC roster and a first round victory in the books, she remains in a state of purgatory as she is without a division.
By staying the course, the UFC could continue to utilize Santos’ star power and have her compete in catch-weight bouts and people would still ultimately tune in, but to give Santos the opportunity to become a UFC women’s featherweight champion could do wonders for her drawing power to the company.
As for determining the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight champion, the UFC seems to have the perfect match-up ready made for them. Holm moving up in weight to challenge Cyborg, a fight that Holm said that she would consider, would definitely be a main event caliber match-up.
As it stands right now, neither Holm nor Cyborg are presently booked against other opponents. This match-up could very well be a featured bout for Madison Square Garden when the UFC hosts an event in New York City for the first time November 12th of this year.