Without question, the UFC's women's strawweight and bantamweight divisions have become two of the promotion's most exciting in recent years, thanks to both the master classes continuously put on by strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and the hot potato nature that the bantamweight belt has taken on since the fall of Ronda Rousey. But, with a grand total of 65 fighters (and a 20 pound difference) between them, both divisions are going to be in need of a shake-up if they want to avoid repeating the same matches over and over again.
A popular solution, according to some, would be to add another weight class entirely -- a women's flyweight division -- that would allow undersized/oversized competitors from both classes to meet in the middle, enjoy a better (or nonexistent) weight cut, and establish themselves as the next, must-see division in the sport.
Recently, it was none other than Jedrzejczyk who called for exactly this, saying, "I want to be the first champion of the 125-pound division. I think the UFC should do this move.” As highly unlikely as the idea of the UFC having a two-division champion is, it's also one that you'd be hard pressed to find anyone being opposed to.
To the UFC's credit, they've recently begun to experiment with the idea, having booked Joanne Calderwood against Valerie Letourneau in a bout at 125 pounds this past June.
If the UFC were to establish a women's flyweight division, how would they do it?
If you ask us, the answer is simple: via a four-person tournament, similar to how the UFC introduced the men's flyweight division, only this time, we have it all in one night, PRIDE-style. Of course, we would need to select who those fighters were, and would you look at that, we already have.
1. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Obviously, if it was Joanna's idea, then we're going to allow her to take part in it. As the UFC's ever-dominant strawweight champion, a move up in weight would open her up to any number of potential money fights (one of which we'll talk about in a minute) not currently available in the division she has long held dominion over. Given the number of legitimate challengers she currently has at strawweight, the idea of having Joanna Champion become Joanna Double Champion is actually a feasible one!
2. Joanne Calderwood
I don't think it's any coincidence that JoJo's best performance in the Octagon, to date, came in her flyweight debut at Fight Night 89, and it's pretty simple to see why.
Ten pounds may not seem like all that much extra weight to cut to us esteemed and surely-in-peak-shape armchair experts, but the truth is, it's more than enough weight to turn even the most seasoned fighter into a dehydrated mess come weigh-in day. Five pounds is literally the only thing stopping Cris Cyborg from challenging for the bantamweight crown, and need I remind you what she looked like while trying to make 140?
In a sport still labelled "barbaric" by its critics, the weight cutting process is by far its most inhumane. For fighters too big for strawweight, but too small for bantamweight, like Calderwood, a flyweight class would mean an end to this unhealthy (not to mention, dangerous) practice. Thanks to those few extra pounds, we get treated to highlight-worthy finishes like this one.
3. Miesha Tate
Going somewhat against what I just stated, one of the flyweight division's biggest challengers could be found in the form of former bantamweight champ, Miesha Tate. While not exactly a small bantamweight, Tate has stated in the past that she would be interested in giving the division a shot, if only to get a crack at Felice Herrig and Angela Magana.
In the lead-up to her fight with Amanda Nunes at UFC 200, Tate was quick to throw her support behind a potential flyweight division, telling reporters, “I think it would be great, especially since they’ve introduced the IV ban. To ask the girls to cut that much more weight and take away the IVs, potentially it’s harmful."
Not to mention, who among us wouldn't be interested in seeing Tate vs. Jedrzejczyk?
4. Jennifer Maia
As Invicta's current flyweight champion, Maia would be be the perfect candidate to round out the UFC's inaugural flyweight tournament for a few obvious reasons. With victories over the likes of Jéssica Andrade, Vanessa Porto and former TUF 18 competitor, Roxanne Modafferi, she'd also pose a legitimate threat to any of the contenders we have listed above. The only drawback, of course, would be that Invicta would have to lose another one of its top fighters in order for this to happen.
Alternates: Jessica Eye, who is currently riding one of the most brutal losing streaks in the entire UFC at bantamweight, and Valerie Letourneau, who battled just as much with her wardrobe as she did with JoJo Calderwood in her own flyweight debut.
Who Would You Like To See in a Potential UFC Women's Flyweight Tournament?
poll image courtesy of Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports