WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST 12/14: Cris Cyborg reacts to establishment of a UFC Women’s Featherweight Division (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

Holy Holm vs. Ronda Rousey (photo credit Matt Roberts @ USA Today Sports)

CYBORG REACTS TO FEATHERWEIGHT DIVISION FOR WOMEN

After much back and forth between the UFC and Cris Cyborg, the UFC has decided to move ahead with a women’s featherweight division without her, at least to start.

UFC announced Tuesday night a 145 pound championship fight between former bantamweight champion Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie for UFC 208 on Feb. 11 from Brooklyn. UFC’s statement does not indicate whether the fight is slated to be the main event or not, but tickets do go on sale Wednesday for Fight Club members and to the general public on Friday.

This would make for the 11th championship under the UFC banner.

Holm was said to have been offered a fight with Cyborg for this date but that her team advised against it despite Holm being willing to take the fight. After defeating Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight championship in November 2015, Holm has suffered consecutive losses to Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko.

De Randamie has also been linked to fights with Cyborg recently and in the past. She has won her last two fights at bantamweight, most recently knocking out Anna Elmose this past May.

Cyborg has claimed she would be willing to fight in March at 145 but didn’t have time to make the weight in time for the February show. In a statement to MMA Fighting, Cyborg was grateful UFC created a division for her but was critical of the matchmaking.

“I’m happy the UFC created my division,” Cyborg said. “It’s been 11 years I’m fighting for women to have the same rights as men with several divisions. Everybody knows I’m the Featherweight Champion. I’m undefeated for ten years in my division. They put this belt only to sell the fight for the new MMA fans. For an example, Holly is coming off two consecutive losses and will fight for the belt. The real fight fans know what’s real.”

With Holm and de Randamie fighting in February, Cyborg now has plenty of time to make the weight and take the championship she claims is already hers.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: I don’t think there is enough depth out there for UFC to have a 145 pound division without significantly weakening the 135 pound division but I do think that UFC might have a big picture outlook for this. The first thing I thought of when I saw the Holm-de Randamie matchup announced was that this sets up a path for a Ronda Rousey-Holly Holm rematch, one of the biggest fights they could put on. A lot would need to go right to set that match up at 135, both Rousey would need to beat Nunes, and Holm would need to beat another top contender, two things that I think are longshots at both happening. Of course they could just make the fight regardless of wins or losses, but a champion Rousey against a strong Holm is a much more attractive fight but the path to that is difficult to achieve. I would say Holm has a strong chance to beat de Randamie in February, and then win or lose, Rousey can challenge her for the 145 pound title next summer. That leaves Cyborg on the outside looking in, but she’s made her own bed. If things don’t pan out with Rousey for any reason, Cyborg is an easy replacement for that slot. This also opens the door for a Rousey-Cyborg fight down the line, another massive fight. I don’t expect women’s 145 to be a very well populated division, but it will be a vehicle for some potential big fights over the next year or so.

WEDNESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…

-UFC 206 prelims did 771,000 viewers, a low number, potentially indicating the show didn’t perform well on pay-per-view.

-Donald Cerrone and Jorge Masvidal have been going back and forth on Twitter about fighting each other on next month’s UFC on Fox show from Denver.

-Angela Hill will not be fighting Jessica Andrade at UFC 207 because she has not been in the USADA testing pool for four months. (SOURCE)

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP

-Junior dos Santos vs. Stefan Struve will main event UFC Fight Night Halifax on Feb. 19.

Combate is reporting Kelvin Gastelum vs. Vitor Belfort for March 11 in Brazil.

-Justin Gaethje will now fight Luiz Firmino at WSOF 34 on Dec. 31 after his original opponent Joao Zeferino pulled out due to injury.

-Chinzo Machida vs. Jamar Ocampo and Kevin Casey vs. Keith Berry at Bellator 170 on Jan. 21 from Los Angeles.

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S REPORT: TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 12/13: Cyborg addresses Dana White comments, Jones talks about his return, Holloway responds to Jose (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

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