First it was on, then it was off, now it's all up in the air again.
A misplaced UFC press release this morning jumped the gun announcing the launch of a women's #flyweight division. The release stated that the first ever UFC 125-pound women's champion will be crowned on series 26 of The Ultimate Fighter and that the casting call would be open to women aged between 21-34 years old who have a winning record consisting of at least three professional fights.
It was also noted that the season will also be open to females on the current UFC roster who can successfully make 125-pounds throughout the duration of the season.
So, if this does all go ahead, who, in the current UFC women's strawweight division, will be making the move up?
Below, we've collated the responses given by of some of the biggest names fighting at 115-pounds in the UFC over the past year.
Aiming to be a Champ-Champ
Speaking to FloCombat in February, the current UFC strawweight champion said that she'd be very keen to make the move up to 125-pounds, but that she'd also like to continue to fight at strawweight.
"Sure, if they open the 125 [pound] division I will go up," #Jędrzejczyk said. "I want to keep on fighting in 115 and 125 because like I said, with Perfecting Athletes I know I can do this and stay healthy. Definitely, I would like to do this, but I have very big plans for this year in the 115 division. I want to fight somewhere in April or May, then maybe summertime, and then at the end of the year in Madison Square Garden again."
Speaking exclusively to Champions.co in an upcoming interview, Jedrzejczyk's next challenger, Jessica #Andrade, implied she'd be sticking around at strawweight for the time being.
"115-pounds for sure, this is the best weight class for me without a doubt," Andrade said. "I can eventually do 125 and even 135 if needed, but I know I am at my best at 115-pounds."
"Everyone talks about the possibility of a new flyweight division opening up, but that's not my goal. I'm usually around 58 kg and cutting weight isn't an issue for me. I'll be staying at strawweight, whatever happens, and it's only matter of time before I get the title."
If the champion Jedrzejczyk does move up to flyweight, one woman who will be glad to see the back of her will be former title contender, Claudia #Gadelha. The Brazilian has lost both her fights to Jedrzejczyk and will no doubt feel she's much more likely to get another crack at the gold with the current champion out of her way. Speaking in London at a fan Q&A, Gadelha said she'd be staying put at strawweight.
"I would stay in my division," Gadelha said. "Before, I used to struggle to make weight, but now, I feel better and I feel good about my weight. For sure I have to eat way less than what I used to, but I feel good at strawweight now. I feel strong for the division, I'm not tall for the division, but I feel strong and I feel good for the division."
Michelle Waterson was close to a title shot just a few weeks ago, but after defeat to Rose Namajunas at UFC on Fox 24, she will have to make another run at the title when she returns later this year. Speaking to FloCombat in July 2016, Waterson said she would be sticking to 115-pounds, but that she was fully behind the creation of the division.
"I think that Strawweight is more my weight right now," Waterson said without hesitation. "I'm originally going up from atomweight so for me, strawweight and 115-pounds is the ideal weight for me to be fighting at. I do however hope that they keep the flyweight division for women because it was not only healthier for those women to be fighting there but also because I think it will be a great division for the UFC.
Like Waterson, Tecia Torres is an advocate of the flyweight division, but according to an interview she gave back in February after defeating Bec Rawlings at #UFCHouston, she also said she wouldn't be making the move up.
"I think there are a lot of women in 115 that could go up, and plenty from the 135-pounds weight class that could come down," Torres said. "People that are hurting their body, Bec [Rawlings] she admitted it, she's hurting her body making 115. I know we have some big 115-pounds fighters at American Top Team and they would benefit from a 125-pounds division. Personally, I'd stay 115. I walk at 125 so that wouldn't happen, but I think there a lot of girls that would benefit from the weight class."
Moving on up
One woman who's made no secret of her strong desire for a flyweight division is Joanne Calderwood. The Scot won the first ever 125-pounds women's fight against Valerie Letourneau back in June last year, but since then, returned to strawweight and was defeated by Jessica Andrade last September. Speaking to MMAFighting.com last May, Calderwood said she was praying the UFC would make the flyweight division permanent.
"I think there's going to be a lot of girls who want to come down and want to come up," Calderwood said. "So I think an interesting thing to do. I don't know if it will (become a new division) or not, but you know what the UFC is like, they're usually one step ahead and they probably have maybe been thinking about it. Let's hope they have been."
Canadian fighter Randa Markos recently picked up the biggest win of her career against Carla Esparza last February. Speaking to FloCombat last year, Markos said that making strawweight was no issue for her and that she'd remain at the weight even if a flyweight division opened up.
"I can make 115-pounds no problem, I did it all throughout the TUF house so it was just a one-off thing [missing weight] that happened and I'm never going to let it happen again," Markos said. "115-pounds is where my home is, I like being small and I think that's where I'm best suited for. I do like the fact they are going to be adding the flyweight weight class as there are too many girls in between 115 and 135 but I think it's a great opportunity for other girls."