This article may raise tempers or be received well, or hopefully a mixture as I explain my personal opinion that the female Featherweight division should be scrapped.
Marred with controversy from its inception, the division was originally created solely for Cris Cyborg. Cyborg originally competed in two 140lb catchweight bouts despite winning both in stunning fashion, finishing Leslie Smith and Lina Lansberg by TKO, the weight cut proved simply too much for Cyborg and finally, albeit very finally, the UFC created the division. Que the first hiccup well call it..
January 21st Anaheim, California is set to play host to UFC 208 and in a case similiar to UFC 233, a headliner cannot be found and the card is eventually rescheduled to August 5th and the originally named UFC 209 was made to UFC 208. Cyborg is ineligible to compete due to her recovering from a gruelling weight cut so the decision is made that Holly Holm will face Germaine De Randamie for the inaugral UFC Featherweight Championship, on the basis that the winner will defend against Cris Cyborg. The fight between Holm and Randamie on paper was set to be a highly contested fight, in reality it was awful, even probing Dana White to slander his own event. During the fight Holm was met with a number of illegal blows after the rounds end and despite numerous protests to referee Todd Anderson, no points were deducted from De Randamie, whom later went on to win the title via unanimous decision. Holm later filed a complaint to get the decision overturned which was subsequently denied.
Fast forward to May and Cyborg is ready and willing to get a date secured with GDR in her bid to win the Featherweight title and everything is finally sorting itself out from UFC 208.. or so we think.. Que hiccup number two. GDR is flat out refusing to fight Cyborg, even taking to Twitter to declare she is moving back to Bantamweight as she cited Cyborgs previous issues with PEDs the reason she didn’t want the fight. Its worth remembering Cyborg was flagged for a failed USADA test in 2016, which her team immediately sorted out and was granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) as the supplement was used to help recover from her previous weight cut. This did not settle well with fans, fighters and the media, as GDR faced a relentless onslaught of abuse for ‘ducking’ Cris Cyborg. Finally, the UFC stripped GDR of the title and ordered a bout between Cyborg and highly touted Featherweight Megan Anderson at UFC 214 which if you can recall.. fell through and eventually Cyborg faced Tonya Evinger defeating her via TKO in the third round. If your heads hurting so is mine but we can do this.
Roll up the relatively stress free period in which we saw Cyborg sign a four fight deal with the UFC, defend her title against Holly Holm (via UD) and Yana Kunitskaya (TKO) which takes us to the biggest and baddest womens MMA match in history with Cyborg vs Nunes (Nunes won via TKO) and consequently the (my) final straw in the division. Upon defeating Cyborg, Nunes immediately denied her the immediate rematch stating she’ll fight her in two years and even more recently, this week allegedly stated she’d only fight her for $3 million, DEFINITELY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
Nunes wants to move back down and defend, I understand that and think she has every right to, but the main issue is she clearly has no intentions to go back up and defend, so is the UFC really going to allow her to hold up the division for 2 years? yes, because the only draw in the division is Cyborg. The hard thing and another reason I feel the division should be scrapped is because there is no division, other than Cyborgs title match and defences, GDR vs Holm, Holm vs Anderson and Anderson vs Zingano (more controversy) what other featherweight match ups in the two years of the division being active have happened? None. Its absolutely ridiculous to have a division, with a champion and no rankings, no clear contenders and no plans with how to move forward with it.
Clarifying, I am not blaming the fighters. I blame the promotion, they actively held a TUF season for female Featherweights which resulted in the majority fighting at Bantamweight which is just completely illogical. The division was made for Cris Cyborg and for the promotion to make more money in PPV sales. Now Nunes holds the title, its a division we aren’t going to see anything of until Nunes gets stripped, in which case does it make sense for Cyborg to fight in a title match immediately after losing previously? or until Cyborg wins a highly coveted interim title (intense sarcasm) and then we wait as the begging begins for Nunes to defend. Unless Dana White has a plan hes not announced yet, i think scrap the division, move the fighters to Bantamweight or my more favoured approach.. take Invicta FC Featherweight division and merge it with the UFC’s creating an actual division with fighters to develop and cards to be filled and more importantly.. actual competition as opposed to the one sided domination we’ve seen Cyborg (until recently) do.
Overall, the women’s Featherweight division shouldn’t stay. Its been two years too long with no to extremely minimum progress and I do not see why to keep a division that has no intentions of being developed further.
Do you agree with the above? If so what? If not what do you think should be done? (Please don’t beat me to hard)
As always follow myself @CaulsDaDon and @ThePlanetMMA for all your MMA needs!