Despite the rumors and the accidental press release last week, UFC president Dana White still insisted that the promotion’s plans to institute a women’s flyweight division weren’t yet complete. Now, the announcement has been made, and the cat is officially out of the bag. The women’s flyweight division is here and will be unveiled at the start of season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter.
The division comes at a time when women caught between the strawweight and bantamweight classes need it most. Reports of hazardous weight cuts are common among men, but the women of the sport have been suffering right along with them.
Valerie Letourneau’s harrowing story about having to be taken to the hospital immediately following the weigh-ins of her last fight is a stark reminder that weight-cutting is a dangerous business—one that can be made much safer with the additions of more classes. Once upon a time, White completely shut down the idea of even having women fight in the Octagon, but times have changed and El Jefe has realized the value that women bring to the most successful MMA promotion in the world.
Speaking to ESPNW, White talked about taking his time with the decision to add another women’s weight class, the second in less than six months.
“Women’s fighting has become very popular,” White said. “I waited for a while to pull the trigger on this division, and I think it’s time. I’m ready to do it now. There are a lot of 125-pound women out there fighting already. Now they’ll get the opportunity to fight in the UFC. We’ll have four women’s divisions, and as far as I’m concerned we can’t have enough.”
TUF 26 tryouts invites women from the ages of 21-34 with a winning record and at least three professional fights to attend the open casting call. Strawweights and bantamweights on the UFC roster are also eligible, provided they can successfully make the 125-pound weight limit throughout the season. Women like Jessica Eye, JoJo Calderwood and Bec Rawlings, just to name a few, will finally have a better, safer option for their careers. Hopefully, the UFC will consider adding more weight classes to the men’s division, as well.
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