The UFC is introducing a third women's division in early 2017. But at least for now, Cris Cyborg won't be involved.
Former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm and top-15 ranked bantamweight contender Germaine de Randamie are slated to fight for the inaugural UFC women's featherweight title on Feb. 11 in the main event of UFC 208, the UFC announced Tuesday night on ESPN's SportsCenter.
The news comes just days after it was revealed that Cyborg, the No. 1 ranked female featherweight in the world, turned down two fight dates to compete for the UFC's inaugural 145-pound title in 2017 because she was still recovering from her grueling weight cut down to 140 pounds for her Sept. 24 catchweight fight against Lina Lansberg.
In a recent statement to MMA Fighting, Cyborg explained that she needed 12 weeks to properly cut down to 145 pounds and that she was eyeing a return to the cage in March.
"I told [the UFC] I can fight anyone in March, but I need to take care of my body," Cyborg said. "And no mention of the fact that I'm dealing with severe depression and can't have another brutal weight cut like before. This decision is more important than the belt or the division, I'm thinking about my health."
Cyborg has long been considered the best female featherweight in the world, stemming all the way back to her days as Strikeforce champion. Last week, an exasperated UFC president Dana White said the promotion planned to create a women's 145-pound division "whether it's with Cyborg or not."
Those words ended up being prophetic, as Holm and de Randamie will now compete for the inaugural UFC featherweight title in Cyborg's stead.
Holm (10-2) is best known for her stunning second-round knockout victory over UFC superstar and former bantamweight titleholder Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. However, that fight stands as Holm's last victory, as the multiple-time boxing champion has dropped back-to-back contests to Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko since capturing the UFC title. She is currently the No. 4 ranked bantamweight on the UFC's media-generated rankings.
De Randamie (7-3), on the other hand, is a former Strikeforce featherweight who has compiled a 3-1 record under the UFC umbrella, including back-to-back stoppage wins over Larissa Pacheco and Anna Elmose. A former undefeated kickboxer, de Randamie is currently the No. 11 ranked bantamweight on the UFC roster.
UFC 208 takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.