The UFC’s launch of the women’s featherweight division has been anything but smooth, especially considering the promotion had exactly three fighters designated for 145 pounds when they announced it. To further complicate things, the woman the division was created for—Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino—didn’t even appear in the inaugural title fight. Instead, Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie battled for the belt and saw the latter become the first UFC women’s featherweight champion.
De Randamie’s refusal to defend her title against Cyborg would see her stripped of the belt just three months later, setting the stage for Justino and Invicta 145-pound champ Megan Anderson to duel for the vacant title. Just a few weeks after the bout was announced, Anderson pulled out due to personal reasons and Invicta’s 135-pound champion, Tonya Evinger, has been announced as the replacement.
“She’s had a rough go here in the UFC. She hasn’t been thrilled with things that have been said, things that have been done. And to be honest with you, we made some mistakes when it comes to Cyborg. So, the least we can do is get our shit together and get this woman a fight for the title.
We signed Cyborg, we made a commitment to Cyborg, and not everything is easy and not everything is as fun as other divisions or whatever, but we made a commitment to this woman.”
White went on to field questions about stripping de Randamie of the belt, once again reiterating that she didn’t want to fight Cyborg, despite UFC officials making it clear to her that she’d be facing Justino at some point.
“We make it very clear: When you go into that division, you know who you’re going to be fighting. Basically, Cyborg owns that division. You go into the 145-pound division and you’re fighting for a belt, you’re going to fight Cyborg.”