It’s no secret that the Ultimate Fighting Championship introduced the women’s featherweight division with Cristiane Justino, the top female 145-pound talent in the world, in mind.
But when “Cyborg” turned down a couple of title fights and then failed a drug test last year, the Las Vegas-based promotion had to look somewhere else in order to produce an inaugural 145-pound champion. With Justino out of action for the foreseeable future, Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie were more than happy to square off with featherweight gold on the line at UFC 208.
While Saturday’s championship headliner has its critics, namely because neither woman has 145-pound experience and because the division doesn’t appear to currently have much depth, Holm would like to point out that the UFC began the bantamweight division on the back of one big star. And that turned out pretty well.
“Here’s the thing -- each division has to start somewhere. And when they first started 135-pound division it was a title fight with Ronda coming over. It built from there,” Holm said during a recent conference call.
“And I know that right now this is part of the division. But there’s so many girls that want the opportunity, I can guarantee you they can build this division in no time,” she continued. “They just have to make some phone calls. Because there’s a lot of girls out there that are very tough. And everybody’s goal is to be in the UFC. That’s the big thing. So, I don’t know. I feel like yes, it’s just the start of it. But it’s got to start somewhere.”
Exactly where the promotion goes with the weight class after UFC 208 remains in question. Predictably, neither Holm nor de Randamie is especially interested in looking too far ahead. It’s possible that more fighters will move up from bantamweight with a conceivably shorter route to a title shot at 145 pounds. Additionally, it’s likely that the UFC will begin looking at Invicta Fighting Championships’ featherweight division, as it did when introduced the 135-pound and 115-pound weight classes.
“I think that they’re just going to start here but I know they’re going to be finding girls,” Holm said. “I know they’re already talking to other girls. …And then again obviously, we’re the fighters. They’re promotion so, I’ll leave it up to them to do that. That’s what they do.”