Female Flyweight: Punching Out the Ceiling

   There’s been more and more chatter lately about whether the UFC will add a women’s flyweight division. Demetrius Johnson, the male flyweight champion, is currently the #1 pound for pound fighter in the UFC. The two current female weight classes are growing in depth and popularity. However, the problem is, the present 20 pound difference in the weight classes is insurmountable for fighters that might want to switch classes if they hit a gatekeeper or champ they can’t seem to beat, or if they just aren’t getting traction.

   Several bantamweights are undersized for the weight class, but trying to cut to 115 to compete at strawweight is either impossible, or it leaves them so depleted that they can’t compete successfully. A couple good examples are Valérie Létourneau and Joanne Calderwood. At UFC Ottawa on June 18 th , Calderwood faced off against Létourneau in the first UFC flyweight bought ever, and yet the UFC announced that it didn’t signify they were adding the division. However, they left the door open for a possible addition of the 125 lb women at a future date.

UFC officials are looking into possibly opening a women’s flyweight division in the future, but until the time when or if such a division is permanently announced, there remain two women’s divisions (bantamweight and strawweight) and there will be no rankings set up for a 125-pound women’s class.”

   There are a fair number of criticisms to adding another weight class, most having to do with only slightly less than 70 fighters signed to female strawweight and bantamweight as it is, and drawing fighters from those classes might leave them thin. It would definitely require signing new female fighters to all the divisions. Still, Invicta is the feeder club for the UFC and there are a handful of quite exciting flyweight prospects. Barb Honchak is the current champ, Jennifer Maia, and Andrea Lee all spring to mind as fighters who would do well in the UFC.

   The Létourneau and Calderwood fight was exciting. There seemed to be a consensus that both fighters looked healthier at this weight class. Calderwood walked away with a (late stopped) TKO after a front kick followed up with hammer fists. Some felt Létourneau never recovered after the round 1 spinning back fist. If that fight was an indication of how a flyweight division would look, I think most fans would be thrilled to see it added.

   Let’s face it. With 8 men’s divisions and only 2 female divisions, at some point the UFC will need to commit to women. Joanna Jedrzejczyk and especially Ronda Rousey, have been massively successful with the public. The UFC has profited massively from the women they have signed. It seems like they need to repay that by showing further, steady commitment to women’s MMA.