— UFC (@ufc) December 14, 2016
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is adding the women’s featherweight division at UFC 208. Holly Holm will move up in weight for the 145-pound weight limit to fight Germaine de Randamie. The fight will take place on February 11th at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
It is noteworthy that Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is not fighting for the first women’s featherweight championship at the UFC. Cris has been the lone true 145-pounder in the UFC and is considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound women’s MMA fighter in the world. Cris Cyborg has been fighting a catch-weight against bantamweights in the UFC but has had extreme difficulty in making the catch-weights. While Justino says that she has been asking the UFC to open up a featherweight division, Dana White has said that Cris Cyborg has turned down fights at 145 pounds. In Cyborg’s defense, it is possible that timing is a significant factor going into Cyborg’s decision on who and when to fight because of how difficult it is for her to even get down to 145 pounds.
Dana White has said that his main concern with opening up divisions in women’s MMA is that there are only one or two fighters that are significantly better than everybody else. By creating a division with only a couple championship-caliber fighters it can create dangerous mismatches for the fighters. However, once the UFC created the bantamweight division the level of talent increased dramatically. Since Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm in November of 2015, the women’s bantamweight championship belt has changed hands twice more. It would be reasonable to believe that with the addition of the women’s featherweight division there will be an influx of higher-quality fighters.