May 7, 2017

UFC: Fourteen Female Flyweight Faces Found For Future Fights

By Adam Martin

Just last week, UFC President Dana White said “no” when asked by a reporter if the UFC was considering introducing a women’s flyweight division. A few days later, Bellator MMA announced that it was bringing in female flyweights. Then this week news leaked that the UFC will also introduce women’s 125, and the division’s first-ever champion will be crowned on The Ultimate Fighter Season 26. White says things are not finalized yet, but it seems pretty clear at this point that 125-pound women will be fighting in the Octagon soon. This is a very good thing.

There are a lot of women in the UFC fighting at 115 who are cutting far too much weight and who will fare much better at 125. There are also a lot of women who put on weight to move up and fight at bantamweight despite being natural flyweights. According to the UFC’s press release, any woman in the UFC who can safely make 125 for the duration of the show will be eligible to try out for it. This is of course in addition to the 125-pound women currently outside of the UFC. Having this new weight class is going to help out a lot of women, so kudos to the UFC for not being stubborn anymore and finally introducing women’s 125.

Here are fighters who I believe could be on TUF 26, competing for the chance to be the UFC’s first-ever women’s flyweight champion:

Bantamweights Who Could Move Down:

Katlyn Chookagian: She is currently in the UFC women’s bantamweight division with a 2-1 record in the Octagon. However, before coming to the UFC she competed as a flyweight, so I could see her dropping down a weight class.

Jessica Eye: She’s 1-5 with 1 No Contest in the UFC and is barely clinging onto a roster spot. Eye has previously fought at flyweight and if the UFC keeps her on the roster, dropping down in weight would be a smart move.

Lauren Murphy: She's 1-3 in the UFC and this new weight class could give her career new life. Murphy hasn't fought at flyweight before but wrote on Twitter that she's open to this new division, hence her being on this list.

Leslie Smith: She’s 3-3 in the UFC and has fought at 135 and 140, but prior to the UFC she fought at 125. She’s one of the smaller bantamweights on the roster and would absolutely be a candidate to drop down. With her personality, I think she would be great for TUF.

Strawweights Who Could Move Up:

Nina Ansaroff: The girlfriend of UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes, she’s 1-2 in the UFC and hasn’t been particularly impressive. Perhaps a move to 125, where she competed before the UFC, could help Ansaroff maintain more consistency in the Octagon.

Joanne Calderwood: She’s 3-2 in the UFC and has actually already competed at 125 in the UFC, against Valerie Letourneau, in a fight she won via TKO. She’s the ideal candidate for the flyweight division and would be one of the favorites to become the first-ever 125 champion.

Heather Jo Clark: She’s 1-2 in the UFC and is barely clinging to a roster spot. Clark fought at 125 before the UFC, so perhaps she would considering moving back up in weight to save her career.

Juliana Lima: She’s 3-2 in the UFC but she has missed weight before. She’s one of the biggest strawweights on the roster and could decide that going to 125 would be less of a stress on her body as far as the weight cut goes. But a lack of English might not make her a good candidate for TUF.

Bec Rawlings: Rawlings is 2-3 in the UFC and missed weight in her last fight. She’s openly called for a 125-pound women’s division, saying making 115 is too hard for her, and she would be the perfect candidate to move up in weight.

Flyweights outside of the UFC:

Barb Honchak: She was the Invicta FC flyweight champion, having gone 5-0 in Invicta, but was stripped of her belt to to lack of activity. Clearly the money wasn’t there for her in Invicta, but the lure of riches in the UFC could be enough to drag her back to the sport.

Andrea Lee: She was 4-2 in Invicta before taking her skills to Legacy Fighting Alliance, where she recently won its flyweight title. She is headed back to Invicta for her next fight. She’s highly marketable and should be a lock for TUF.

Jennifer Maia: She’s 3-2 in Invicta and is currently its flyweight champion. If the TUF producers believe she can speak English and would be good in the TUF house then a spot on the show is hers.

Roxanne Modafferi: She failed in her stint as a bantamweight in the UFC, but since going back to Invicta and going down to 125 she’s 4-2. She has a good personality and would be a good fighter to have in the TUF house.

Vanessa Porto: She’s 4-3 in Invicta and though she’s lost both of her chances to win its flyweight title, she’s still one of the top fighters in the weight class. I’m not sure how her English is, but that will be an important consideration for the TUF producers.

Having more weight classes for the fighters can only be a good thing. While the UFC has been resistant to add women's flyweight in the past, it's the right time to finally add it. Sure, there will be critics, but there were also critics when the UFC brought in women's bantamweight and women's strawweight. Heck, there was even critics back in the day when the UFC brought in men's lightweight and later featherweight, bantamweight, and flyweight. But any additional divisions that give the fighters more options to fight at their optimal weights is a good thing, and TUF 26 should be one of the better seasons in a while if the fighters listed above get a chance to compete on it.

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