It is fascinating times for women MMA fighters competing in the featherweight division.
The UFC recently announced the introduction of the weight class, setting up a fight for the inaugural UFC featherweight title between Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie.
Many were confused when the fight was first announced. The match up features two fighters who have been competing in the UFC bantamweight division and Holm has lost her last two contests.
It was presumed Cris Cyborg; the women who had dominated the division for years, would be the obvious first choice for the title. Fate intervened however, Cyborg failed an out-of-competition drug test by USADA and it now looks like she will be out of action for at least one year.
Soon after this Australia’s own Megan Anderson finished Charmaine Tweet in the second round to claim Invicta’s interim-featherweight title.
With the knowledge that a dominant victory would surely put her in the discussion for a chance to face the Holm – de Randamie winner, she let UFC president Dana White know exactly what she was thinking.
“Hey Dana White, you tell Holly or Germaine to keep my belt warm because I’m f#?king coming for it,” Anderson said in the post-fight interview after she defeated Tweet.
You would presume the dominant victory by Anderson puts her at the front of the pack to get the first shot at the winner of Holm – de Randamie. The UFC can act in mysterious ways however and as of last week, Anderson has still not been contacted.
“I haven’t heard anything” Anderson told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour.
Anderson believes she has earned a shot at the title after defeating Tweet and it is hard to argue with her.
Anderson defeated Tweet in devastating fashion. She landed a salvo of heavy punches before breaking Tweet’s nose with a head kick and forcing the referee to intervene at the 2:05 mark of the second round.
“Everyone loves a good knockout or a TKO, everyone enjoys a good head kick highlight reel, it’s always very exciting. I think I needed it to finish in such a way that there was no question that this is where I belong and I deserve that opportunity.” Anderson continued.
The UFC however does not always give out title shots on what is fair and deserving. With the purchase of the company by WME-IMG and a huge debt to pay off, star power matters.
Current UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes has been vocal of her desire to imitate Conor McGregor and become a simultaneous two-division champion. Under the current UFC ownership super fights are big business, and this could see Anderson having to play the waiting game.
“Finally the UFC have decided they want to add the division but you know there’s 135’ers saying they want to come up and she (Nunes) wants to be a two-division champ and I’m like well, what about us girls who have been fighting who haven’t been given the opportunity of the UFC, like bring us in let us show you what true 145’ers can do”. Anderson said of the possibility of Nunes getting the shot.
Anderson raises a valid point. Holm is currently the 3rd ranked bantamweight fighter and de Randamie is ranked 10th in the UFC’s media-generated rankings, yet they are fighting for the featherweight title. While both fighters have competed at featherweight in the past, it has not been for several years.
It would seem unfair to allow another bantamweight fighter such as Nunes the opportunity to get the first shot at the winner, given fighters like Anderson have been fighting at featherweight their entire career.
Holm fights de Randamie at UFC 208 on February 12th (Australian time). What happens after that, is anyone’s guess.