Flyweight is the deepest women’s division in the UFC, not strawweight


Editorial commentary by Peter Parsons

You regularly hear the strawweight division called the deepest women’s division in the UFC. This was the case until recently. Over the past few months, the flyweight division has become the deepest in the UFC.

When talking about division depth, look no further than the bottom of the leaderboard. 15-ranked flyweight Casey O’Neil was one of the standouts of 2021 going 3-0 with 3 finishes. O’Neil takes on No. 12-ranked Roxanne Modafferi this Saturday.

The bottom three spots in the women’s strawweight division (115 pounds) are: 13. Jessica Penne, 14. Brianna Van Buren, 15. Luana Pinheiro. The bottom three spots in the women’s flyweight division (125 pounds) are: 13. Maycee Barber, 14. Manon Fiorot, 15. Casey O’Neil.

After being out for four years, current No. 13 ranked strawweight Jessica Penne went 2-0 in 2021 with wins over Lupita Godinez and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

14-ranked Brianna Van Buren is 1-1 in the UFC with her only victory in 2019 against Livinha Souza. She has been inactive for 19 months. In her last fight, Van Buren lost to perennial ranked fighter Tecia Tores.

After earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020, No. 15-ranked Luana Pinheiro went 2-0 in 2021 with a disqualification win over veteran Randa Markos and a unanimous decision over Sam Hughes.

13-ranked flyweight Maycee Barber started her UFC career 3-0 with her third win over then-ranked Gillian Robertson. After dropping her next two against Roxanne Modafferi and Alexa Grasso, Barber bounced back in her last fight with a victory over top prospect Miranda Maverick.

14-ranked Manon Fiorot started her UFC career with two second-round TKOs. The French fighter stepped up in competition in her last bout to defeat Mayra Bueno Silva by unanimous decision to go 3-0 in the UFC.

15-ranked Casey O’Neil (8-0) is 3-0 in the UFC. The Scottish-born Australian picked up stoppage wins in the Octagon over Shana Dobson, Lara Procopio and Antonina Schevchenko.

When you look outside the rankings, women’s flyweights have more prospects than strawweights. Erin Blanchfield is considered by many to be one of the best prospects in all of women’s MMA with a 2-0 record so far in the UFC. Montana De La Rosa, Miranda Maverick, Gillian Robertson and Mariya Agopova are other names we may see in the rankings in the near future.

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In the strawweight division, there is not the same level of unranked prospects as in the flyweight division. Some names include Kanako Murata, Loma Lookboomee, Lupita Godinez, Polyana Viana, and Cheyanne Vlismas. The strawweight division is not as deep as the flyweight division.

It could be argued that the top of the strawweight division is deeper than the top of the women’s flyweight division. Part of the reason it may appear that way is that current flyweight division champion Valentina Schevchenko has been so dominant. The women’s flyweight champion is the current pound-for-pound queen and has defeated most of the top contenders at 125 pounds. It looks like Schevchenko has cleaned up the division; however, there always seem to be new contenders emerging like No. 5-ranked Taila Santos (19-1), who has four straight UFC wins and is coming off a first-round victory over Joanne Wood.

The women’s flyweight division was thin for a while, mostly because it was a new division. For a few years we only had the women’s strawweight and bantamweight divisions. Since the UFC introduced the women’s flyweight division, we’ve seen 135-pound women drop to 125 and 115-pound female fighters drop to 125. The most recent example of a female fighter planning to drop down to weight flyweight is former bantamweight champion Meisha Tate who is set to make her flyweight debut in May against No. 3-ranked Lauren Murphy, who had won five in a row before challenging Valentina Schevchenko for the title in her last fight. .

Upcoming Notable UFC Women’s Flyweight Fights

Feb. 12 (12) Roxanne Modafferi vs. (15) Casey O’Neil

March 5 – (9) Jessica Eye vs (14) Manon Fiorot

March 5 – Mariya Agapova vs. Maryna Moroz

March 12 – Ariane Lipski vs. JJ Aldrich

March 19 – Molly McCann vs. Luana Carolina

March 26 – (7) Joanne Wood vs (11) Alexa Grasso

April 23 – (13) Maycee Barber vs. Montana De La Rosa

April 30 – Antonina Schevchenko vs. Courtney Casey

May 14 – (6) Viviane Araujo vs (8) Andrea Lee

May 14 – (3) Lauren Murphy vs. (8-BW) Meisha Tate

Which UFC women’s division do you think is the deepest? Express your thoughts in the comments below.


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