UFC Creates Women’s 145-Pound Division

Just as the mess of confusion in the UFC’s male featherweight division was cleared up, there is a mess in the new women’s counterpart and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is at the center of it all.

The UFC drew huge ratings after signing Justino and putting on her two 140-pound catchweight bouts against Leslie Smith and Lina Lansberg in September. Justino had previously gone back and forth in the media with UFC’s public face in president Dana White over a super fight (what would have then been a title fight) against Ronda Rousey at 135 pounds and other issues.

The 17-1 (1 No Contest) “Cyborg’s” trouble with cutting weight has been well-documented for years, but she came to an agreement with the UFC to fight for them, hoping they would create her division.

Justino, still listed as the women’s featherweight queen for UFC-partnered Invicta FC, once claimed that she would “die” if she continued to attempt the cut to women’s bantamweight. She essentially said the same in November about the 140-pound catchweight she previously agreed to. The KO-oriented fighter would now only go to 140 for Rousey. Rousey has always wanted to fight Justino– at 135.

“I’m going to stay in my division, and see if the UFC opens up my division, or if they don’t do it, I’m going to leave,” she told a media outlet in her native Brazil around just two weeks ago. “I’ll keep fighting so that hey open more divisions,” Cyborg said. “If I don’t have a division in the UFC, I’m going to go to another company like Rizin or Bellator or another organization where they have my division. I’ll keep fighting for that.”

Basically, the UFC gave the television draw what she had been asking for. It just wasn’t when she wanted it.

“I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago (against former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm),” White said on the official UFC Unfiltered podcast. “She had eight weeks to get ready for it, she said she couldn’t make the weight, said she couldn’t make 145 pounds.”

“So then I offered her another 145-pound title fight for Brooklyn (UFC 208 against Germaine de Randamie), she turned it down. She turned down two 145-pound title fights. One because she said she couldn’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks, and (soon-retiring matchmaker) Joe Silva’s like, ‘If she can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks, 145 isn’t the right weight class for her either.”

After giving Justino, a professional athlete who knows that weight management is part of the job description in her sport, multiple opportunities, the UFC is now moving on. Justino continues to talk from the outside looking in.

“Everybody knows I’m the featherweight champion,” she said. “I’m undefeated for 10 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.”

The UFC recently debuted in the state of New York with the UFC 205 pay-per-view card in November. Then came Albany at Times Union Center on December 9. UFC 208 will be the promotion’s first time in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on February 11.