In February, the UFC pitted former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm against Germaine de Randamie to crown the promotion’s inaugural women’s featherweight champion. The idea was simple: create a division to house star fighter Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.

De Randamie outworked Holm for five rounds to take the unanimous decision and the 145-pound crown. Yet, the division seems to have died a swift death. Its champ, de Randamie, announced her plans to move back to 135 pounds while rejecting a potential clash with Cyborg, whom de Randamie characterized as a cheater who relies on performance-enhancing drugs. Cyborg, meanwhile, has been too busy feuding with a strawweight fighter. And Holm has a June 17 date with Bethe Correia in the bantamweight division.

Obviously, the absence of these three ladies makes for a dismal outlook when it comes to the future of the UFC’s women’s featherweight division. However, if the promotion could coax even just one of these athletes back, it still has to build a roster of 145ers to compete for the belt.

While the women’s featherweight division doesn’t enjoy the depth of the bantamweight or strawweight classes, it’s not a complete wasteland. If the UFC really wanted to bring life to the division, it wouldn’t have to look far.

Of course, there would be the no-brainer additions, such as veteran competitor Charmaine Tweet. Ediane Gomes, who recently returned to action, has been chasing after a Cyborg fight for years. Current Invicta Fighting Championships featherweight champ Megan Anderson has also entered the fray by calling for a fight with Cyborg. Even recent Bellator signings Amber Leibrock and Amanda Bell could find themselves in the Octagon in the future.

Then there are those names that might not resonate as loudly with fans. These are Invicta regulars, MMA veterans and some fresh faces to the pro MMA circuit. These are the women who could combine to resurrect the women’s 145-pound weight class.

Latoya Walker (5-1 overall, 1-1 Invicta)

Walker, 37, is one of the oldest fighters on this list, but the “Black Mamba” has posted a solid 5-1 mark since turning pro in 2011. She hasn’t been the most active competitor out there, but this has more to do with her status as a featherweight fighter. The Texan has notched notable victories over Gabrielle Holloway, Brittney Elkin and UFC veteran Peggy Morgan. Her only loss came to perennial top featherweight Charmaine Tweet.

Helena Kolesnyk (5-0 overall)

The 27-year-old Kolesnyk is the next challenger to Megan Anderson’s Invicta crown. The Ukrainian gets her crack at the belt in July. Through five wins and one no-contest, the Global Fight Gym product has tallied three knockouts and two submissions. Many of her fights took place in China, and Anderson is the first established foe she’ll face. Kolesnyk has a lot to prove, but if she stops Anderson, she immediately becomes a top star in a division that’s ruled by Cyborg.

Daria Ibragimova (9-2 overall, 0-1 Invicta)

The 32-year-old Ibragimova already had her chance at Cyborg. The pair met in early 2016 at Invicta FC 15. Cyborg finished the Ukrainian with just two ticks left in the first round. Ibragimova has also fallen to Cindy Dandois, but that’s her only other loss in a career that spans roughly eight years. She has finished her opponent in eight of her nine victories.

Felicia Spencer (2-0 overall, 2-0 Invicta)

The “Feenom” competed primarily at lightweight during her amateur career, and she debuted at 155 pounds in a victory over Rach Wiley at Invicta FC 14. Spencer’s last outing marked her first fight at featherweight. She outworked Madison McElhaney for three rounds at Invicta FC 22 to remain perfect in her pro career.

Pam Sorenson (5-2 overall, 1-1 Invicta)

Sorenson couldn’t top Ediane Gomes in their recent Invicta FC 23 bout, but she did enough to make it a close split verdict. The Cellar Gym standout spent much of her early career with the King of the Cage organization. She debuted in 2015 and eventually captured the league’s bantamweight strap. Along the way, she defeated veteran competitor Brenda Gonzales. Sorenson made her Invicta debut in the 135-pound weight class and scored a split decision over Jessy “Jess” Rose-Clark. As an amateur, Sorenson lost to Amber Leibrock via a 25-second knockout.

Martyna Czech (3-0-1 overall)

Czech made her pro debut in late 2013, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the Polish upstart made her name known. She did score a decision victory in her debut outing and fought to a majority draw in her sophomore appearance. Her third fight was a first-round technical knockout of Kristina Matilevich. Her most recent appearance, though, served as the most impressive. The Bastion Tychy export needed just 59 seconds to stop Laura Čiulkevičiūtė with strikes. Only her latest fight took place at 145 pounds.

Leah Letson (4-1 overall, 1-0 Invicta)

The 24-year-old Letson is another new addition to the 145-pound division. The Pura Vida product jumped between weight classes as an amateur and landed in the bantamweight division upon making her pro debut in 2014. Letson lost to Christina Jobe via split decision before turning around and reeling off four straight wins. She’s scored three striking stoppages, including first-round finishes in her two most recent fights. Letson has notable pro victories over Al-Lanna Jones and Elizabeth Phillips. Her Invicta debut, which came against Phillips at Invicta FC 21, served as her introduction to the featherweight division.

Olga Rubin (3-0 overall, 1-0 Bellator)

The 27-year-old Rubin was born in Russia, but she fights out of Israel. The Pariente Academy export debuted in late 2016 with a first-round striking finish of fellow newcomer Laurita Likker-Cibirite under the Bellator banner. She returned to action in April and scored another knockout victory when she faced Carmel Ben Shoshan. Less than a month later, she added a decision nod over Tatiana Voznyuk.

About The Author

Bryan Henderson
Editor-in-Chief

Bryan Henderson became a fan of MMA in the late ’90s when he happened upon the early UFC events on VHS at a local video rental store. He started writing about the sport on his Sporting News member blog in 2007 before becoming an official staff writer for Sporting News’ “The Rumble” MMA/boxing blog. He went on to become a staff writer and the Features Manager for MMA DieHards before moving on to The MMA Corner, where he assumed the role of Editor-in-Chief. Bryan left The MMA Corner in 2014 and founded Combat Press along with two of his colleagues. In addition to covering mixed martial arts, Bryan also operated the Modified Mind body modification e-zine website for more than a decade.

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  • RODNEY P

    Hilarious article. So you just want the UFC to go raid Invicta FC and Bellator to create their UFC Women’s Featherweight division? So basically, this author is so UFC blinded that he is advocating that instead of the UFC brass going out and do the work of scouting talent, he wants them to simply raid other MMA organizations. What a joke.

    • Bryan Henderson

      Rodney, thanks for the feedback and for reading Combat Press. To address your comments:

      It’s a matter of reality. When the UFC created its women’s strawweight division, it essentially raided Invicta to create the UFC roster. When it started a men’s flyweight division, it raided Tachi. The UFC is the top promotion right now, like it or not, and it’s going to seek out the top talent for any new division. The UFC isn’t going to say, “Oh, we won’t sign anyone from Invicta or Bellator, because that would be raiding other MMA organizations.” The UFC brass will sign any fighter they want who is available if they finally fully got behind the idea of a women’s featherweight division. That means Invicta is the first place the company will turn if it wants fighters who can realistically compete with the likes of Cyborg. This list is a rundown of the top talent that would likely be brought in to beef up the division’s roster.

      As for being UFC-blinded, that’s also not the case…my last article in this series covered Bellator prelim fighters who should be promoted to the Bellator main card. The concept here is to shine a light on fighters who could realistically fit into whatever the scenario is, be it new talent for Bellator, a women’s featherweight roster in the UFC, or whatever the next circumstance is that we choose to explore.

      • RODNEY P

        It is a known known that the UFC raided Invicta FC to create the UFC Women’s Strawweight division, and it is also a known known that the UFC raided Tachi Palace to create the UFC men’s Flyweight division. And now you just want them to raid Invicta FC once again to build the UFC Women’s Featherweight division. That’s pathetic. The UFC brass need to go out and scout and do their own work and rely on the hard work of others. But reality is reality and we don’t live in fantasyland. The UFC can’t raid Bellator Women’s Featherweight division for talent because those fighters are under contract with Bellator and Bellator would win that in court every time. Bellator recently signed Amber Liebrock from Invicta FC and resigned Arlene Blencowe to a new contract and immediately booked her in a fight against the young Sinead Kavanaugh. Bellator went and signed the 18 year old Elina Kallionidou to a couple of one fight deals. The UFC needs to go out and do their own work and not rely on the hard work of others. As it is known, the UFC is the most widely recognized name in the world for MMA, so why in the world are they so lazy or disorganized not to go out and scout female featherweight talent for themselves?

        • Bryan Henderson

          I’m not saying I want the UFC to go out and raid a promotion. It’s simply a known fact that this is what they do. They will go out and scout talent, but they’ll be looking for fighters who are as close to established elites as possible. This is that list, including Invicta fighters because Invicta has a policy of working with the UFC and excluding Bellator fighters (other than a mention of a couple of them in the intro) because they are under contract right now — and Leibrock’s under Bellator contract now, but that doesn’t mean she’s eternally locked in with that promotion.

          I almost included fighters like Bruna Araujo, Allison Schmidt, Evva Johnson and Giselle Barbosa, but then opted not to because most of these ladies only had one pro fight total, or one pro bout at 145 pounds, and weren’t yet proven forces within the division. These ladies would make more sense for a “Give Them a Chance” on stocking Invicta’s featherweight division, since Invicta prioritizes the nurturing of fighters who are much newer to the pro ranks.

          I hope that clears up your understanding of this feature. Again, thanks for reading.

          • RODNEY P

            Seriously, you threw in that salesman line of just because a fighter is signed with Bellator that doesn’t mean they are eternally signed with Bellator. Are you kidding me with that? Then use that same salesman line when you talk about any fighter who is under contract with the UFC, that said fighter is not eternally signed with the UFC. Seriously, that line was so lame by you. Of course, no fighter is eternally signed with any MMA organization, this isn’t fantasyland. Point is the UFC and Bellator will not even talk to fighters who are under contract with the other organization. Well, except for Rampage Jackson, and Bellator won that litigation. Just like Bellator went out and originally found Arlene Blencowe, and Iony Razafiarison and Sinead Kavanaugh, and Talita Nogueira from around the globe at featherweight, let the UFC go out and scout from around the globe as well, instead of relying on Shannon Knapp and Invicta FC to do their scouting for them. And it’s still up to Megan Anderson to decide what she wants to do with her career. These fighters don’t realize how much they hurt themselves when they openly let it be known it’s the UFC or bust. Because at that point, the UFC holds all the negotiating power.