Earlier today we learned that Joanne Calderwood and Valerie Letourneau will compete in the first women’s flyweight bout in UFC history on June 18th in Ottawa. As of now, this bout is being called a special attraction and there are no immediate plans for this division to be added to the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion.
So, for this articles sake, let’s just say the UFC does add a women’s 125 lbs division before the end of 2016. With Calderwood and Letourneau you have 2 strong arguments to kick things off with. Below, I’ve compiled a list of 12 more competitors that could end said argument, thus making a third option for female mixed martial artists to tests themselves against one another at the highest level.
• Miesha Tate – If a 125 lbs women’s division does actually come to fruition then your current bantamweight champion would be the odds on favorite to be the first ever female two-division champion in UFC history. Tate has the size and the beyond strong wrestling base to make her a nightmare for anyone that decides to compete at flyweight. I believe the cut wouldn’t be a big issue for her (she’s gone on record saying that she’d love to compete at 125 lbs) and her tenacity accompanied by her never say die attitude would give her a strong edge against anybody that decides to move up or down to 125 lbs. That said, she’s doing just fine at 135 lbs as evidenced by that shiny gold belt she’s been carrying around since early last month.
• Leslie Smith – Leslie Smith’s “Peacemaker” nickname couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s nothing peaceful about this girl when she steps into the cage. She’s also certifiably insane. Smith beat Jennifer Maia in her Invicta debut at flyweight and lost to Invicta FC bantamweight champion Barb Honchak in a title bout before heading back up to bantamweight as a UFC competitor. Since then she’s posted a respectable 2-2 record with her career highlight coming in a loss against Jessica Eye when she almost lost her ear; of course she wanted to keep fighting. Oh yeah, this “Peacemaker” was the only female brave enough to sign the dotted line to take on “Cyborg” at 140 lbs next month in Brazil.
Again, Leslie Smith is not to be messed with. And she’d be far better suited for 125 lbs against anyone than 140 lbs against Cyborg in Brazil. That said, who’s going to try and stop her from doing whatever the hell she wants. More power to you, Leslie.
• Jessica Eye – I’ve been in the house for multiple Jessica “Evil” Eye fights and there’s always one thing that has stuck out to me while watching and listening to her compete – when she hits – it’s noisy. While this hasn’t exactly translated into earning her many KO or TKO stoppages, it’s indisputable. She’s also a wildcard. This is a fighter who is simply outmatched at 135 lbs at the highest level. She’s a middle of the road fighter who will never see a title shot in the UFC. Eye needs this division to happen to make the UFC her long-term employer. And she can certainly help make it worth their while.
Stuck in the Middle
• Jessica Andrade – With 7-fights under her belt as a UFC competitor, Andrade is one of the most prolific female fighters to ever step foot into the octagon. Following a loss to Raquel Pennington via RNC at UFC 191, Andrade has decided to make the dramatic move from 135 lbs to 115 lbs where she’ll meet Jessica Penne at UFC 199.
If Andrade can make the cut without any complications than I believe she will have her way with Penne (who could easily be the UFC women’s atomweight champion if there was such a division) on June 4th in Inglewood. Where Andrade belongs though is somewhere in between. 125 lbs would be a blessing for a fighter like Andrade who at 24-years-old has plenty of fight left in the tank.
Moving Up (currently competing at 115 lbs)
• Claudia Gadelha – It’s no secret that Gadelha has had issues cutting to 115 lbs in the past. She’s a major problem for anyone at strawweight but on any given day she could pull a Renan Barao circa UFC 177. Gadelha has what it takes to become the UFC strawweight champion on July 8th when she takes on Joanna Jedrzejczyk. If she loses to Joanna for a second time though, then a jump up to 125 could be the better option for career longevity and a better quality of life.
• Joanna Jedrzejczyk – Speaking of Jedrzejczyk, the current UFC women’s strawweight champion is the 2nd most likely female to become a UFC 2-division champion behind Miesha Tate in my opinion. Tate’s wrestling trumps JJ’s striking if these two do ever hook ’em up but hey – I’ve been wrong before and I’ll certainly be wrong again. Let me just say this – if Tate and Jedrzejczyk can remain champions for the foreseeable future then a 125 lbs super fight to decide the first UFC female 2-division champion would be a dream come true.
• Jessica Aguilar – “Jag” has all the right moves to be the best flyweight in the world. Before losing to Gadelha in her UFC debut, Aguilar earned her status as the top strawweight in the world by putting together and impressive 10-fight win streak that included 2 wins over arguably the best female mixed martial artist in the history of the sport – Megumi Fujii. Make no mistake about it , Aguilar is still a threat to win that UFC strawweight title; a move up to 125 could be just what the doctor order for her though at this point in her career.
Getting Called Up (Top Invicta FC 125 lbs fighters)
• Barb Honchak – As of this writing, the current champ has held the Invicta flyweight title for 1,118 days. She also holds a perfect 5-0 record as a Invicta fighter – she’s not only getting called up – she may get that first title shot if she isn’t just promoted to UFC champion to avoid any tomfoolery.
• Jennifer Maia – As much as I just built up Honchak in the above statement, she hasn’t seen battle since Invicta FC 9 all the way back in late 2014. This caused an interim title bout to made between Jennifer Maia and Vanessa Porto that saw Maia emerge victorious via UD in an instant classic. This 27-year-old out of Curitiba, Brazil could be a fixture in the women’s flyweight division for years to come and would be especially valuable with the amount of cards the UFC does in Brazil each year.
• Vanessa Porto – Like Maia, Porto would be huge for UFC Brazil. She’s 0-2 in title fights for Invicta thus far but you cannot argue that she hasn’t left everything she had in the cage each time out. The third time could be a charm for Sao Paulo’s Porto inside of the Octagon.
• Roxanne Modafferi – This fan favorite didn’t exactly light the world on fire in her first stint with the UFC at bantamweight. Since then, “The Happy Warrior” has reinvented herself at Syndicate MMA and has posted an impressive 4-1 record at flyweight for Invicta FC. 125 lbs is where Modafferi belongs and she certainly has the “veteran savvy” that would allow her to hang with anyone in the division.
• Andrea Lee – “KGB” holds multiple kickboxing and Muay Thai accolades and she has the look that would make her an instant UFC star. I believe her losses against the aforementioned Modafferi and the tough as nails Sarah D’Alelio will only make her stronger. Lee is a rising star that only hardcore mixed martial arts fans know about. In a year or two she’ll be right up there with the biggest names in the business. Count on it.
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