After months of denying they had any plans to do so, the UFC is apparently about to kick off a women’s 145 pound division. The news came via UFC president Dana White on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, albeit not without controversy. White brought the topic up in what came across as an attack on Invicta 145 pound champion and eventual likely UFC 145 pound champion Cris Cyborg.
“I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago,” White said. “She had eight weeks to get ready for it, she said she couldn’t make the weight, said she couldn’t make 145 pounds!” So then I offered her another 145-pound title fight for Brooklyn [at UFC 208]. she turned it down. She turned down two 145-pound title fights. One because she said she couldn’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks. And Joe Silva’s like, ‘If she can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks then 145 isn’t the right weight class for her either.’”
As always, it’s a bit strange to hear a UFC promoter throwing a UFC fighter under the bus, but this is Dana White we’re talking about so it’s nothing new. Any saltiness can be attributed to having his belt laid plans for event headliners foiled by annoying small details like fighter health and the like. Cris Cyborg responded to White’s comments with an eye opening account of what accepting UFC fights at 140 pounds has done to her health (via MMA Fighting).
For the first time I didn’t warm up in the locker room like I do for every fight because I was too weak. I was just praying for God and went for the fight, and, once again, God gave me the victory. After all this, I went back to my hometown on Sunday and I felt sick on Sunday. My mother gave me tea and I fell asleep. The next day, like I always do after my fights, I did blood tests to see if everything was okay after a terrible weight cut. And for the first time, the nurses couldn’t take my blood, it was so thick it wouldn’t come out, so we couldn’t do tests.
I was in treatment for 10 days with Dr. Ulisseia. I was in observation because I was feeling sick all the time. … I got a call from the UFC offering me another catchweight fight, and I said I would not fight at this weight anymore. I needed a break to get my health back to normal because my body was weak, I was anemic.
They invited me to fight again, but this time at my weight and for the belt, but with 10 weeks’ notice. Knowing that I was recovering, like I said, I told them I can fight anyone in March, but I need to take care of my body, and no mention of the fact that I’m dealing with severe depression and can’t have another brutal weight cut like before. This decision is more important than the belt or the division, I’m thinking about my health.
But on the plus side, it sounds certain that a UFC 145 pound division is finally in the making. While it may be thin at the moment, there’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation going on with it: there’s no 145 pound fighters because up until the UFC added the division, there was no money for larger female athletes in MMA. Now that a division is opening up, you can bet on seeing a number of athletes, including female Olympians that compete at 160 pounds, coming over.
And of course, if Ronda Rousey sticks around a bit longer than expected, many women who can make 135 might consider bulking and moving up to avoid her reign of destruction. Unfortunately for them, Cris Cyborg may be just as much of a challenge, if not more so.