March 9, 2018

Strawweight Is One of the Deepest Divisions In the UFC

By Raphael Garcia

Divisional depth is important in mixed martial arts, and the UFC has long been considered the top of the pecking order for all weight classes. However, when it comes to the question of division has the most depth, that discussion has historically fluctuated between men’s lightweight and welterweight. But there’s a new weight class in the conversation – women’s strawweight.

The Top 15 fighters the UFC’s 115-pound division is an interesting cast of characters. Whether it’s Rose Namajunas, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Andrade or another, you’re frequently talking about a fighter that has an interesting personality outside of the Octagon, and the ability to cause carnage inside of it.

Another thing that makes this weight class so intriguing is that top contenders are frequently facing each other. Whereas other divisions see fighters angling for bigger fights and bigger paydays, the women of 115 tend to be more willing to just step into the cage to carve their respective paths toward the title.

Take the welterweight division. As of March 8, only two Top 15 fighters -- Carlos Condit and Leon Edwards -- have a fight booked. in fact, only Kamaru Usman and Donald Cerrone have even fought in 2018.

Compare that to the strawweight division. Namajunas and Jedrzejczyk are scheduled to fight at UFC 223. Andrade and Tecia Torres just had an exciting battle at UFC on Fox 28 last month. Claudia Gadelha is scheduled to face former champion Carla Esparza in June at UFC 225. Karolina Kowalkiewicz is fighting Felice Herrig at UFC 223. Michelle Waterson is fighting Courtney Casey in April at UFC on Fox 29. Alexa Grasso is fighting undefeated Tatiana Suarez in May. Randa Markos fought in January at UFC on Fox 27. And Cynthia Calvillo last fought in December, though she is facing six months of inactivity due to marijuana being found in her sample. Of the fighters in the Top 15, only Nina Ansaroff and Joanne Calderwood haven't fought recently and aren't booked to do so.

That type of activity is what makes this division so intriguing compared to others. Not to mention the excitement of said bouts -- the recent fight between Andrade and Torres, for instance, could have been the main event of UFC on Fox 28, as it was both high stakes and compelling from start to finish.

It will be interesting to watch this division shake itself out for the remainder of the year. The woman who walks out of the Octagon with the title at UFC 223 should expect a wide variety of challengers ready to pounce at the first opportunity. Andrade is clearly at the top of the list, but Torres, Gadelha, Herrig, and others are not far behind.

As the UFC continues to hunt for new prospects and stars to build upon, the organization should turn an eye to the strawweight division. This diverse cast of characters has a number of individuals with the potential to break through and attract the attention the promotion desires. Now is the time for the powers that be to begin leveraging one of the deepest divisions in the sport.


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