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UFC plans to add women's featherweight division ‘whether it's with Cyborg or not'

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Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

The UFC will soon be adding a third women's division to its ranks, regardless of whether its biggest star will be joining the fold. UFC president Dana White this week told FOX Sports Australia that the UFC is dead-set on creating a women's 145-pound division in 2017, irrespective of whether Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg is able to compete for the inaugural UFC title.

"She was offered two fights at 145 pounds, she turned them both down," White said. "The first fight, she said she only had eight weeks and that wasn't enough time to make 145 pounds. And then she gave no reason for the second time. But the answer is yes. The answer is yes, we're going to make a 145-pound division, whether it's with Cyborg or not."

Cyborg, 31, confirmed this week that the UFC offered her two separate fight dates for the inaugural UFC women's featherweight title in 2017. In a statement to MMA Fighting, Cyborg said she turned down both opportunities because she was still recovering from her grueling weight cut down to 140 pounds for her Sept. 24 catchweight fight against Lina Lansberg at UFC Fight Night 95. 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.

"The next day (after UFC Fight Night 95), like I always do after my fights, I did blood tests to see if everything was okay after a terrible weight cut," Cyborg told MMA Fighting. "And for the first time, the nurses couldn't take my blood, it was so thick it wouldn't come out, so we couldn't do tests. I was in treatment for 10 days with Dr. Ulisseia. I was in observation because I was feeling sick all the time.

"I told [the UFC] I can fight anyone in March, but I need to take care of my body, and no mention of the fact that I'm dealing with severe depression and can't have another brutal weight cut like before," Cyborg continued. "This decision is more important than the belt or the division, I'm thinking about my health."

Cyborg (17-1, 1 NC) is widely considered to be the No. 1 female featherweight in the world and one of most dominant fighters in the sport. She is the current Invicta FC featherweight champion, the former Strikeforce featherweight champion, and holds an unbeaten record since losing her professional debut in 2005. All 17 of her pro victories have ended via stoppage, with 15 ending via KO/TKO.

Cyborg also proved to be a sizable ratings draw over her last two fights in the UFC. Fighting at a catchweight of 140 pounds, Cyborg demolished Leslie Smith and Lansberg inside the Octagon in less than nine combined minutes. Her fight against Lansberg at UFC Fight Night 95 peaked at approximately 1,326,000 viewers and headlined a show that stands as the ninth-most watched UFC Fight Night in the near four-year history of FOX Sports 1.

Cyborg-Lansberg also stands as the most-watched UFC cable event ever headlined by a women's fight, breaking previous record set by UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha in July.