UFC 242: Joanne Calderwood vs Andrea Lee Proved How Far The Women’s Flyweight Division Has Come
By James Lee
2017 saw the implementation of the women’s flyweight division, but now we are finally seeing it materialise into the division it was expected to be.
The initial champion was determined by The Ultimate Fighter season 26, in which standout Nicco Montano won before being stripped of the title nine months later after failing to make weight in her first scheduled title defence.
After the top of the division was stalled for most of 2018, Valentina Shevchenko won the inaugural title late in the year and has since gone on to legitimise the division.
Despite the confusion surrounding the title for over a year, the rest of the contenders have been lining themselves up and filling up the rest of the division to further cement it to those of the UFC calibre.
A fight that perfectly defines the growth of the division was UFC 242’s fight between Joanne Calderwood and Andrea Lee that headlined the preliminary card.
Compared to the fights made when the division first opened, the contender fight between Calderwood and Lee proved the division is on the same level as the strawweight and bantamweight despite being far less established.
The fight was ultimately a close split decision bout that went in favour of Calderwood, but both women put on a show of skilled striking and grappling to do the division proud in Abu Dhabi.
The pair are ranked at #5 and #6 in the division and Calderwood could earn herself a title shot with an impressive performance on a massive stage. For them to headline the preliminary card in what is expected to be one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year shows the level of intrigue the division has created.
Outside of the fight this past Saturday, the rest of the top fifteen of the division has shaped up nicely and holds potential future title contenders like Maycee Barber and Antonina Shevchenko who are adding intrigue to the division and adding an exciting future to the division.
More specifically, having a contender like Calderwood could be great for building the 125lbs division and the UK market. She has now won four strawweight UFC fights so far and has shown the vast improvements she has made since TUF 20. The UFC are always looking for talent in different markets and Calderwood could be that for the UK alongside Darren Till.
Overall, the women’s flyweight division is in a good place. It has grown exponentially since its creation and the fight at UFC 242 is proof of that.