UFC working on adding a women’s strawweight division

Friday, November 15, 2013

UFC president Dana White appeared recently on the FoxSports.com podcast “The Fighter and the Kid.” The show, just six weeks old, is hosted by UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub and comedian  Bryan Callen.

On the show White revealed the future of little women’s MMA.

“I’ll give you guys something nobody knows yet,” said White as transcribed by MMASucka. “We’re actually working on bringing in another division for the women, which I said would never happen for a long time.”

The UFC currently has a women’s bantamweight (135 lbs) division. White was asked if the new division would be Featherweight (145, hello Cris Cyborg) or flyweight (125).

White’s reply was unexpected.

“Neither,” said White, adding “115 lbs.”

The move follows an unintended test each week of the drawing power of WMMA vs. the drawing power of men’s MMA. Women win – the episodes featuring women’s fights on TUF 18 earn 44% higher ratings on FOX Sports 1 than do episodes with men fighting.. Rousey and bitter rival Miesha Tate are this season’s coaches.

“I never in a million years thought that it would take off the way that it has,” said White, who just two years ago replied “never” when asked when women would fight in the UFC. Of course, that was before White met Ronda Rousey, and crafted the division around her. Rousey is the coach, opposite Miesha Tate, on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Top strawweight women fighters include Jessica Aguilar, JoJo Calderwood, Carla Esparza, Ayaka Hamasaki, Felice Herrig, Bec Hyatt, and Rose Namajunas. Further, the UFC is likely consider top fighters at 105 and 125 who are willing to move up and down, respectively.

Although the majority of the world’s top women fighters are contracted with Invicta FC, Invicta and the UFC have an excellent working relationship of long standing, and there is every expectation that the organizations would come to terms.

BloodyElbow‘s Step Daniels reached out to Invicta FC CEO Shannon Knapp, and Knapp saw nothing but positives.

“I think it’s great,” said Knapp. “I’ve always said that my goal was to build these divisions out to bring awareness to the female athletes in the sport by giving them a home and opportunities. I believe the UFC bringing in more weight divisions is proof that we are breaking down the barriers and moving the sport forward for the females. I saw it and believed in it from the start, and I’m happy that Invicta has been instrumental in changing the landscape for the female athletes. It’s always been my personal and professional goal to make a difference in this sport, and I believe that each and every day, I’m accomplishing that.”

“I think it’s a testament to how well Invicta is doing, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish for the women in the sport. We’ve just begun our work, and we want to keep making a difference. There’s going to be a demand for more talent. I plan to give them a home where new strawweight competitors can be built up. This doesn’t mean the end of anything. Honestly, this is just the beginning.”

“There’s still plenty of work to be done in all of the women’s divisions. I’m looking at this as a personal and professional victory, and it is of tremendous benefit to the athletes. When the biggest organization out there is taking a look at what you’ve done, and they embrace it, then you know you’ve succeeded.”

What do you think UG? Expect to see Felice Herrig get a UFC contract. Who else do you think the UFC will sign?

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