After she publicly refused to fight consensus top contender Crsitiane “Cyborg” Justino, there were rumors that the UFC would strip former women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie of her title even though she only won it at February’s UFC 208.
Today, the promotion did just that, stripping de Randamie of the gold and booking Cyborg vs. Invicta 145-pound titleholder Megan Anderson for the co-main event of July 29’s suddenly stacked UFC 214 from Anaheim, California.
The move was expected in order to clear up the women’s featherweight landscape, which had no cohesion or direction after de Randamie won the belt in incredibly controversial fashion over Holm before essentially running from Cyborg and disappearing from the public eye. However, it apparently came as news to de Randamie, who told MMA Fighting that she found out she had been stripped when she saw Cyborg vs. Anderson was made official online:
“I had absolutely no idea that I was being stripped of the belt. I found out through social media. Cyborg (Justino) is going to fight Megan (Anderson) for the belt.
“Nobody ever told me anything about it.”
Yet the move was expected by the vast majority of the MMA world, and the UFC saw her refusal to fight Cyborg as a decision that obviously made her expendable. In a statement on UFC.com, the promotion explained their position, citing de Randamie’s refusal to fight the top contender as threatening to the ‘integrity of the sport’:
“UFC has informed Germaine de Randamie and her management team that she is being removed as the women’s featherweight champion due to her unwillingness to fight the No. 1 ranked contender, Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino. Subsequently, top contender Justino will face newly signed Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson for the UFC women’s featherweight title in the co-main event of UFC® 214: CORMIER vs. JONES 2, July 29 in Anaheim, Calif.
UFC maintains that any champion is expected to accept fights against the top contenders in their respective weight classes in order to maintain the integrity of the sport.”
While a simple structured system where the champions fight top contenders is exactly what countless fans have been clamoring for throughout the UFC’s rough start to 2017, in truth it’s clear to see that the UFC will make exceptions to this so-called effort to ‘maintain the integrity of the sport,’ as both Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping have been allowed to choose their opponents, for better or worse.
Those names are much bigger than de Randamie’s, of course, and with a massive loan being worked on by new UFC owners WME-IMG, “The Iron Lady” clearly wasn’t in a position to be calling her shots, especially when women’s featherweight was essentially created to showcase Cyborg’s dominance. De Randamie was only brought on as a late replacement when Cyborg wasn’t able to fight Holm at UFC 208.
The division doesn’t really have any other fighters outside of Cyborg and Anderson right now, but with de Randamie refusing to fight Cyborg due to her questionable history with performance-enhancing drugs (and some would argue outright fear), the decision to strip her of the title because she wouldn’t fight the woman who most believe to the uncrowned champ was an easy one. The Dutch kickboxer recently said she would return to her original home of bantamweight, and reaffirmed that today.
Overall, it became apparent De Randamie wasn’t bringing in the bucks, and that’s what the UFC obviously cares about these days.
Just don’t say it was to simply uphold the “integrity of the sport.”