Now is the time for the women’s strawweight division to shine.
After the recent confirmation from UFC President Dana White that Holly Holm’s next match will, in fact, be an immediate rematch with Ronda Rousey, fans are left waiting for a date to be announced. As it is known, Rousey is taking some time off to go film a few movies and then plans on making a return to potentially reclaim her belt. With the women’s bantanweight division on hold, we shift our focus to the ladies at 115, which has recently been making a lot of meaningful moves.
December marks a huge month for the women’s strawweight division, as Tecia Torres and new addition, Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger are set to square off at UFC 194 on Dec. 12. Torres was originally scheduled to face off against Michelle Waterson before Waterson was forced to withdraw due to injuries. The UFC went ahead and signed current Resurection Fighting Alliance Champion as the new woman to fight Torres. Lybarger has proven to be a complex fighter, showing effective power on the ground as she does on her feet. Those skills are what ultimately won her the RFC championship at RFC31 in October. Torres, one of the best strikers in the strawweight division, should make for an interesting matchup against the newcomer.
“The Tiny Tornado” is currently the No. 5-ranked pound-for-pound women’s strawweight fighter in the UFC and also holds an undefeated record of 5-0. Having fought some of the most recognizable women in the strawweight division, such as Rose Namajunas and rising UFC star Paige VanZant, she has secured a spot as one of the toughest female fighters at 115 pounds. Torres may have an interesting future bout if she defeats Lybarger.
Namajunas and VanZant are set to square off at UFC Fight Night 80 on Dec. 10, two days before Torres and Lybarger step into the Octagon. VanZant too was supposed to face another opponent, fellow top-10 strawweight fighter Joanne Calderwood. Calderwood suffered injuries and had to be pulled out of the main card, pushing Namajunas to step into her place. With so few challengers for Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s 115-pound crown, the winner of Namajunas vs. VanZant could be set up to fight the winner of Torres vs. Lybarger in a title eliminator bout.
This is the most action the strawweight division has had since its inception in 2013; all eyes are now on Namajunas, VanZant, Torres and Lybarger as they could possibly be the women to change the game for the entire strawweight division. Since its beginning, the weight class has been living in the shadow of the bantamweight division, mainly due to Rousey’s status atop women’s MMA. Not only do these female fighters have the opportunity to take hold of the sport in Rousey’s absence, but they also have the opportunity to move themselves up to a closer chance at the title.
Claudia Gadelha is said to be the next up for a rematch against the current strawweight champion, a fight that could ultimately go either way. Gadelha the grappler and Jedrzejczyk the striker are both the best at what they do within their division.
December is an important month for the strawweight division and what happens in the foreseeable future. It may change the perception of female fighters in the strawweight division for years to come. It is safe to say that all six women have their work cut out for them; the opportunity is resting in front of them and it’s their time to show the talent that has been overshadowed all along.