Last weekend’s first ever decider of the newly-instated UFC women’s featherweight division was conducted with one very large proviso hanging over it.
Germaine de Randamie ultimately became the organisation’s standard-bearer at 145-pounds when she controversially outpointed Holly Holm to capture the gold but she did so standing in the very large shadow of Brazilian featherweight Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino, the consensus best women’s featherweight on the planet. When the UFC announced the introduction of this weight class, it was thought to be done to accommodate the significant talents of the Brazilian. While she is currently on the shelf owing to an appeal she is undertaking against a potential USADA violation which she says will be easily explained by her personal physician, a fit and healthy (and USADA approved) Cyborg, you would think, should be in the discussion for who is truly the best women’s featherweight fighter on the planet.
Cyborg, who remains the Invicta women’s featherweight champion, is now on a collision course with the Netherlands’ de Randamie but any potential fight between the two would likely take place in the summer at the earliest. Meanwhile, Cyborg appears to have turned her attention back to Invicta and their interim featherweight champion Megan Anderson.
— #UFC208 (@criscyborg) February 12, 2017
Much in the same way that the women’s bantamweight division was established to provide a platform for Ronda Rousey to become a star, many consider Cyborg as capable of having the same impact in the division ten pounds to the north. The UFC, though, seem content for the time being to promote fighters from their already established 135-pound fold to populate the new division. Both de Randamie and Holm had little trouble in making weight for their bout last weekend which suggests that they are not ‘natural’ featherweights and the organisation hasn’t (publicly at least) made many efforts to sign fresh talent to help fill the weight class.
Cyborg is already a star — particularly in her native Brazil — where the UFC’s hastily assembled pairings of her in the imaginary catchweight division of 140-pounds hasn’t dulled her ability to pull big numbers and you feel that this new women’s featherweight weight class won’t be truly legitimsed until Cris Cyborg has made her imprint of the division.