Last week the UFC announced that the promotion would add a women’s flyweight division (at least for one fight) with Joanne Calderwood facing off against Valerie Letourneau. In a lot of ways, the new weight class is a no brainer. Since adding women’s division, some of the competitors such as Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm and Joanna Jedrzejczyk have become some of the biggest names in the sport.
However, the potential addition of a new division is still curious. The UFC is promoting more cards than ever before, but there still does not always seem to be enough room for the ladies. In 2015, the UFC promoted only 24 fights at women’s strawweight and 20 at women’s bantamweight. So far in 2016, the UFC has only hosted 11 women’s fights to date.
In 2015, women’s fights represented 9.3 percent of all Octagon bouts. This year that rate has fallen to an even 8 percent.
Obviously this is not a hugely significant dropoff. However, for an entire new division this number will need to take a pretty large jump. As previously stated, last year there were only 20 fights in the women’s bantamweight division, which is the lowest number of any weight.
If we assume that 20 is a baseline number of fights for the new division, that means the UFC will need to promote 46 percent more women’s fights than in 2015 in order to keep pace. This is not to say that 125-pound women do not deserve a shot in the promotion, but it would be interesting to see how the UFC manages to juggle or add cards to make it work.
*article updated to reflect that the division has not been officially added.