Although the UFC is nowhere close to adding women’s 125- and 145-pound divisions to their 10-division roster, it’s not afraid to feature a bout or two outside of its normal weight classes.
The promotion recently announced at women’s flyweight bout between former title challenger Valerie Letourneau and Scottish striking sensation Joanne Calderwood for its upcoming Ottawa event. It will be the first 125 women’s bout in the promotion’s history.
And let’s not forget the upcoming 140-pound catchweight bout between Invicta featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith at UFC 198 (May 14) in Brazil.
While these two fights aren’t necessarily the beginning of the UFC establishing women’s flyweight and featherweight divisions, it’s a good way to test the waters and see if either weight class would be a permanent fixture to the promotion.
I think both divisions would be a good fit for the UFC, as it has been for other promotions. Invicta Fighting Championships has had both weight classes since it started in 2012 – Happy Birthday to the promotion by the way – and even crowned two champions, Barb Honchak (125) and Justino – three if you count interim flyweight champion Jennifer Maia. Bellator reintroduced both divisions when Scott Coker took over as president. Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd will face off for the women’s 145 belt at Bellator 145. Coker added that the promotion will crowned a women’s 125 champion in the future as well.
The addition of these two divisions would also give more opportunities to fighters. Fighters who compete at strawweight won’t have have to cut as much weight if they move up to flyweight. The same goes for bantamweights who have a hard time making that cut to 135 – they can go up to featherweight.
If Calderwood vs. Latourneau, and Cyborg’s debut works out, it could the catalyst that brings a solid base for both weight classes to the UFC in the future.