By Tony Shuck
Special to woodypaige.com
Christine “Cyborg” Justino has longed for the UFC to instill a women’s featherweight division and to be a U.S. citizen. On December 13th, both came to fruition. But all is not well in the Justino house.
Justino is the No. 1 ranked fighter in the world at featherweight. She has long campaigned for 145-pound women’s division, but had been relegated to compete at 140-pound catch weight fights. The weight cuts for her to get to 140 pounds were brutal. She walks around at 185 pounds. Despite this, she still made weight and won both of her catch weight fights in dominating fashion.
On would assume the UFC created this division to reward her for her efforts. One would be wrong.
Despite being the reigning Invitca featherweight champion, the former Strikeforce featherweight champion and arguably the most dominant force in women’s MMA, Justino will not be fighting for the inaugural title. That honor has been bestowed upon Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie.
How did the UFC overlook Justino? Is she in the proverbial “dog house”?
Per Dana White, the UFC has offered her three title fight contracts. She’s turned them all down citing that the weight cut to 145 pounds is too difficult with only eight weeks’ notice. Justino does not deny being offered the fights, however; she feels like she has earned the right to have a 12-week camp.
I don’t think asking for 12 weeks is out of line. As I stated before, those weight cuts to 140 pounds were brutal. They had to of taken a toll on Justino’s body. In her last attempt to make 140, Justino resorted to using birth control to help make the weight cut. All she’s asking for is some time to make weight the right way.
The UFC needed to rebound from the lack-luster PPV numbers generated by UFC 206. The original main event was scrapped due to injury. To make things worse, the interim title fight was nearly ruined by a fighter missing weight. They needed a headliner for UFC 208 that could sell PPV’s. Instead of catering to Justino’s wishes and moving the title fight back, they decided to go forward with Holm vs de Randamie.
Holm, a former UFC bantamweight champion and the only woman to defeat Ronda Rousey, was a clear favorite to compete for the title. Her name value alone can carry a card with or without Justino.
Justino, for obvious reasons, feels disrespected. I don’t know that I blame her. She’s laid the groundwork for this division to even exist. To put this into context, think back to when Dana White ushered in the first women’s MMA fight inside the octagon. Now imagine that Ronda Rousey wasn’t in it. Seems crazy, right? It’s the same thing here.
Multiple fighters have come out on twitter in protest of this match-up. They feel that if Justino is not in this fight, then whoever wins cannot claim themselves to be the true champion. They have a point.
Justino has been the face of the women’s featherweight division since 2009, when she knocked out Gina Carano and became the Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion. To snub her is completely disrespectful. You cannot convince me that you couldn’t wait 2 more months. You also cannot convince me that the winner of UFC 208 is the new women’s featherweight champion. Until someone beats Justino, she will remain the uncrowned queen of the featherweight division.
(Tony Shuck, an avid MMA fanatic since 2002, has become an expert on the sport. The 34-year-old Indiana native is a veteran of the United States Army, serving between 2002-2006. He was deployed twice to Iraq (2003-2004, 2005-2006). He is married and lives in Denver. Tony has trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing. He is a student at the Colorado Media School, is a regular contributor to woodypaige.com and hosts his own MMA radio show, The Weigh-In, on Elevation 5280 Sports.)