Last week, UFC president Dana White said that the promotion was planning to add a women’s featherweight division, whether or not it involved Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. Today, the UFC announced its newest division, and the inaugural title fight will not feature Cyborg.
Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie will contend for the 145 lbs strap at UFC 208 on February 11th. The event will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, with the main card airing live on pay-per-view.
Holm (10-2) is a year and a month removed from her famous KO win over Ronda Rousey, but it also doubles as her last win to date. The former world boxing champion lost her bantamweight title by dramatic 5th round rear-naked choke to Miesha Tate at UFC 196. Her last fight was a unanimous decision loss to Valentina Shevchenko in the UFC on FOX 20 main event.
De Randamie (7-3) last competed in May, stopping Anna Elmose in the 1st round in front of a raucous home crowd in the Netherlands. Her previous outing was in March 2015, when she stopped Larissa Pacheco at UFC 185. “The Iron Lady” has fought twice at 145 (both under the Strikeforce banner), losing to Julia Budd before besting Hiroko Yamanaka. She returned to 135 when she made her UFC debut, a split decision over Julie Kedzie.
Dana White told the LA Times’ Lance Pugmire that the reason for Cris Cyborg not fighting for the title is because she turned down multiple title fights, including against Holm and de Randamie.
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) December 14, 2016
In her response to Dana’s claims from earlier this month, Cyborg had stated that she wanted time for her body to recover from her 140 lbs catchweight bout vs. Lina Lansberg, and that she’d be ready to return in March.
“I got a call from the UFC offering me another catchweight fight, and I said I would not fight at this weight anymore. I needed a break to get my health back to normal because my body was weak, I was anemic.
After that, they invited me to fight again, but this time at my weight and for the belt, but with 10 weeks’ notice. Knowing that I was recovering, like I said, I told them I can fight anyone in March, but I need to take care of my body, and no mention of the fact that I’m dealing with severe depression and can’t have another brutal weight cut like before.
This decision is more important than the belt or the division, I’m thinking about my health.
I thank my fans. We did it! I’ll soon be fighting in my division, where I’m the world champion. You and God are loyal. I’ll be ready to fight in March.”
Evidently the UFC decided that March was too long to wait, so if Cyborg ever does fight again in the UFC, and it’s for the featherweight title, she’ll actually be the challenger.
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