June 20, 2017

UFC 214: Stripping the Title From Germaine de Randamie Could Bode Poorly For Mighty Mouse

By Adam Martin

The UFC made it official Monday morning, announcing via press release that the promotion has stripped Germaine de Randamie of the UFC women's featherweight title. Now, Cris Cyborg and Megan Anderson will fight for the vacant title in the co-main event of July's UFC 214 event.

The decision to strip GDR of the belt shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The Dutchwoman won the inaugural title against Holly Holm in the main event of UFC 208, but the fight was marred in controversy due to late blows landed by GDR, and since winning the belt she has been nowhere to be found. GDR has said multiple times she needs surgery on her hand, but for whatever reason she never got it. Then, when the UFC told her she had to fight Cyborg, she said she wouldn't fight her due to Cyborg's PED-tainted history. With the UFC needing a co-main event for the July pay-per-view card, it made business sense to strip GDR and to create a new title fight between Cyborg and Anderson, even though it's only been a few months since GDR won the belt.

Although I do believe that stripping GDR was the right move because it's clear she has no interest in fighting at 145 anymore, the fact that the UFC said in the press release that she was stripped for refusing to defend her title against the top contender makes me wonder if the UFC is considering stripping UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson of his title as well. We know that the UFC wants to book Johnson against TJ Dillashaw in a "superfight," but Johnson has steadfastly refused to fight Dillashaw based on merit, as the longtime flyweight champ believes Dillashaw needs a win at 125 before getting a title shot. The original plan was to do Johnson against Dillashaw in Seattle at UFC 215 in August, but with Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor announced for a late-August PPV, it's possible the UFC has shifted plans, knowing a Johnson vs. Dillashaw PPV would bomb with May/Mac coming up in the same timeframe.

The UFC brass told Johnson that they were considering folding 125 because the division doesn't draw, and Johnson on an appearance on The MMA Hour confirmed as much. It's sad that the top pound-for-pound fighter is in this situation right now, but in the WME-IMG era, it's all about money, and Johnson doesn't draw on PPV. The UFC clearly doesn't want him picking and choosing his fights, so if he continues to refuse fighting Dillashaw like GDR refused to fight Cyborg, then would it really shock anyone if the UFC chose to take the next step and take away's DJ's belt as well?

Personally, I believe that stripping DJ and closing the flyweight division is the wrong move, as DJ is a longtime champ who should be treated with respect, and flyweight -- despite not being a drawing division -- is still an exciting weight class. But I admit that I wouldn't be surprised if the UFC cited DJ's refusal to fight Dillashaw as a reason for taking his title away, even though Dillashaw isn't technically the top contender at flyweight because he's never fought there before.

Hopefully, cooler heads prevail and the UFC and Johnson mend fences, but I'm not so sure. It's obvious Johnson wants to defend his belt against Ray Borg and break Anderson Silva's title defense record in what is essentially his hometown of Seattle, but the UFC wants him to face Dillashaw. I'd prefer to see the UFC and Johnson figure out a way to keep both sides happy, but after seeing what happened to GDR, it shouldn't shock me if we wake up one morning and find out that DJ is no longer the flyweight champ.

UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 takes place July 29, 2017 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

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