THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT 12/12: The prospects of a Women’s Featherweight Division, and will Cyborg be part of it?

By D.R. Webster, MMATorch contributor

Cris Cyborg (photo credit Jason Silva © USA Today Sports)

This week’s edition of the Sunday Supplement takes an in depth look at the possible introduction of a Women’s Featherweight Division in the UFC and where Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino fits into the plans at this point.

UFC Women’s Featherweight Division in the works, but will Cyborg be part of it?:

Finally, after much discussion over the years, it looks like the UFC is planning to add a Women’s Featherweight Division (145lbs). However, it may happen without the presence of its possible biggest star and centrepiece, Cris “Cyborg” Justino, who currently holds the Invicta FC Featherweight Title while also competing in the UFC.

Dana White, during an interview this week, told Fox Sports Australia that the promotion plans on adding a 145-pound weight class even if Cyborg is not on board.

Thus far, Cyborg has has competed twice in the Octagon and both of these fights have been held at a catch-weight of 140-pounds. She defeated both Lina Lansberg and Leslie Smith via TKO, continuing a long undefeated streak which stretches back to 2005. She has only lost once in her career – in her first ever fight – and has since amassed a record of 17-1, with 15 of those wins happening via TKO/KO.

She has been consistently dominant her entire career. However, recently she has experienced some grueling weight cuts, particularly ahead of the Lansberg fight back in September, really struggling to make the 140 lb. mark. She later said that she felt that she was going to die due to the weight cut.

This could prove to be an important turning point in her career and could change the face of a possible 145 lb. division.

During the interview with Fox Sports Australia, Dana White also revealed that Cyborg had turned down two title fights at 145 lbs. recently.

“She was offered two fights at 145 pounds, she turned them both down,” White said. “The first fight, she said she only had eight weeks and that wasn’t enough time to make 145 pounds. And then she gave no reason for the second time. But the answer is yes. The answer is yes, we’re going to make a 145-pound division, whether it’s with Cyborg or not.”

This last weight cut in particular seems to have had a big effect on Cyborg. She had been fighting at 145 for Invicta FC on a consistent basis and has been fighting at Featherweight since her Strikeforce days as well as recently even threatening to leave the UFC if the they didn’t implement her normal weight class, so fighting for a UFC Title at 145 lbs. is what she has been waiting for. Yet, she turned two opportunities down, which shows that, as well as taking a physical toll, these recent bad weight cuts have also taken a mental toll on Cyborg.

Dana White comments on Fox Sports Australia were dismissive about Cyborg’s weight cutting issues however. “This doesn’t have to do with weight,” he said. “It obviously has nothing to do with weight cutting. I don’t know what it has to do with, but we’re gonna figure it out. She was having a hard time [getting to 135], so she cut down to 140.

“Then there was the whole thing about, ‘I can’t make 140 pounds.’ Finally we just said f—- it. Alright then. We’ll make a 145-pound title for you and here we go,” White said. “She said, ‘I can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks.’ So then we offered her the fight in Brooklyn and she turned that one down too. And Joe Silva’s like, ‘If she can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks, 145 isn’t the right weight class for her either.’”

This latest offer from the UFC for a title fight was for UFC 208 in Brooklyn on Feb. 11. In response, Cyborg commented that she would need at least twelve weeks notice to cut her weight down to 145 pounds again and that she would be able to fight by March of next year.

These title fights that she was offered were to be against both Holly Holm, possibly at the now-postponed PPV that was due to take place in Anaheim, California on Jan. 21 and Germaine de Randamie, which would have taken place on the aforementioned Feb. 11 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

There has been no word from Dana White yet on when the UFC plans to officially introduce the Women’s Featherweight Division. If there is no rush on it’s introduction, they should definitely wait for Cyborg to return.

For the division to be the legitimate best Women’s 145 lb. division in MMA, then the best 145 lb. fighter in the world has to be involved in it, even if she only sticks around for another few fights.

First of all, she has earned her chance to be there. Secondly, she is a draw and the new division will need her to get off the ground successfully.

Also, if White has made the exceptions that he claimed he has for Cyborg already, then why not wait just a little bit longer for Cyborg to recover and start this new division off right?

She is basically the main reason for it’s creation, so starting it without her doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at this point.

With these issues, it’s clear that Cyborg will never make the 135 lb. cut for the Bantamweight Division to take on the big fights at that weigh. Her fight with Ronda Rousey doesn’t look likely at all at this point with the place that they are both at in their careers these days and making 140 lbs. has been a great struggle for her, so if she can’t fight at 145 lbs., then it doesn’t look like she has much of a future left in the UFC.

Only time will tell, but it will be interesting to see how the UFC will handle Cyborg and what a 145 lb. division would look like without Cyborg at the center of it.

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT 12/4: The formation of the MMA Athletes Association could shake up the sport, but several key issues could undercut efforts


(D.R. Webster writes “The Sunday Supplement” for MMATorch each week and also authors the MMATorch Daily Trivia feature. He has written for Daily Record Sport, WrestleTalk TV, Sports Kings, and a variety of other combat sports sites and publications, including review shows and DVDs, news reporting, columns, and fantasy articles.)

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