#WMMADebate: What’s next for the UFC flyweight title?

It is pretty clear that plans need to be made regarding the UFC Women’s Flyweight title. There was an Ultimate Fighter show dedicated to crowning the first champion, contender Sijara Eubanks was unable to compete in the final due to weight problems, and perennial underdog Nicco Montano upset Roxanne Modafferi for the title. All in all, it was lots of drama that led up to where we are now, which is….yawn…not much.

Montano hurt her foot and has been rehabbing it ever since. Valentine Shevchenko dropped down and overwhelmed Priscila Cachoeira in her first flyweight bout, and since then, she is waiting for Montano to heal for a championship fight.

Montano is adamant that she wants to fight the “Bullet,” but can’t because she injured. Famed MMA journalist Ariel Helwani was verbally injured by Montano when he suggested that the UFC “was getting tired” of waiting on her.

Obviously, this logjam can’t continue. A new women’s weight class is dying on the vine and something needs to happen. But what? Here are four scenarios for ending the Flyweight blockade and the pros and cons for each.

1- Wait until Montano heals and then match her against Shevchenko: Pro – It’s the next fight up and it’s the one that will garner the most attention. It wouldn’t be the first time the UFC waited until its preferred matchup could take place. Con – Who knows how much longer we will need to wait? End of 2018? 2019?

Match Number one contender Shevchenko against the winner of the upcoming Sijara Eubanks/Lauren Murphy fight for an interim title: The number two and three fighters duke it out and then the winner faces the number one contender for an interim belt. Once Montano is ready, she can fight the interim champ and the winner unifies the title. Pro – It gets the division moving and at the end of the process, there’s a unified title. Con – It’s a lot to happen for a brand new weight class, and it may seem too much like a circus.

3- Strip Montano of the belt: Since she has been injured for a while, the UFC could strip her of the belt, play out scenario number two, and the winner would not be the interim champion, but an undisputed champ (except perhaps by Montano). Pro – It’s been done before by the UFC when they want to get things moving. Con – It’s been done before, and done too much. There is something to be said for giving a champion a chance to defend their belt.

4- Have a Flyweight Tournament to Crown a New Champion/Number One Contender: Since Shevchenko was made the number one contender after one divisional fight (and an unranked opponent at that), make her and the other top contenders work for a chance at the belt. The UFC could either go with option three, stripping Montano of the belt, and hold a tournament to crown a new champion, or they could have “Bullet” and the other top contenders out of a pool of the following: the winner of Eubanks/Murphy, Modafferi, Alexis Davis, Jennifer Maia, Katlyn Chookagian, and Barb Honchak. Pro – It would garner attention, keep the division moving, and strategically set up fights that need to happen, but might take another six months to a year to happen. Con – The UFC just had a tournament to crown a champion, and now you’re having another one?

 

What do you think? What should the UFC do to move the division along?

Terence
Veteran martial arts writer also published in Black Belt and Fight! Magazine.

6 comments

  1. The last I heard (https://www.mmaweekly.com/nicco-montano-details-road-back-to-the-octagon-addresses-potential-fight-with-valentina-Shevchenko), Montano anticipates fighting Shevchenko in July. To give her the most time possible, let’s assume that will be on the UFC Fight Night Alvarez vs Poirier card on 7/28. If that’s still the case, I’m sure the UFC, Shevchenko and most fans would be fine with that.

    The problem is, her lack of commitment to stick to that. Since the UFC created this problem by having TUF determine the champion rather than the challenger for the title, they should bend over backwards to get the defense of the title resolved. They need to get Montano to commit to fighting a specific date in July, and explain to her if she is unable to fight, she needs to give them as much notice as possible so that they can line up an interim title contender. There are a number of top contenders that are fighting in July that I am sure would be happy to step in for a chance at the interim title. The UFC needs to line one up and then another flyweight to step in to fight the new challenger’s former opponent.

  2. circus. the UFC should have selected 8 women for a flyweight tournament in the first place and not bothered with TUF. this division is stalling out of the gate. the positioned Shevchenko as a #1 contender by giving her a can to crush who not only was a new signing, but a low ranked regional fighter (#170 something in the world) who looks like some kind of cripple. I say strip Nicco and just make a title fight. but the UFC seems to be willing to be patient with her, which is not so bad for her, but bad for everyone else.

    1. Why on earth would they strip her (the UFC) when they flew her out to Vegas to get surgery in the first place.God forbid should we also strip Tyron Woodley for having time off for his injury. Montana is the champ leave her alone ..when she is ready to return all will be well.

      1. this is exactly what i said. the UFC seem fine to wait. but everyone else is getting impatient. for a fight who’s outcome is as close to 100% predictable as is possible in MMA anyway.

  3. Strip the belts from all non-fighting so called champions. Tonsils now foot injuries, what is the next excuse? White has no problems immediately stripping titles and giving them to DC and Aldo. Favoritism much? The flyweight division must move on without Ms. EXCUSE!!!!!!!

    1. I agree. I see no reason to wait, Nicco can win her way back to the belt later. don’t know about favoritism per se, but the UFC sure doesn’t give 2 craps about this division.

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