There were stuff we could have never expected happening and some we predicted last year at this time. In total four of our 8 predictions came to fruition in 2015. Not bad at all. To sum up:
- Jessica Aguilar did sign to the UFC
- Bellator saw a resurgence with raising talent from the UFC jumping ship
- Bellator did launch a flyweight division, although no official announcement was made. The held several flyweight bouts in 2015, more than at 145.
- More international talent did sign with Invicta and the UFC than previous years
Here is our predictions for 2016.
Strawweight will have Over Two Dozen or More Fights than Flyweight as it Stays the Most Popular Division
Current trends and the fact the UFC doesn’t have a flyweight division had an immediate impact in terms of stats. Flyweight had 166 fights in 2014 and 171 in 2015. Strawweight overtook the top spot in divisional totals in 2015 by three fights. Strawweights grew from 141 to 173.
Europe used to be mainly for the feather and bantamweight talent, but we are seeing an influx in strawweight talent as Joanna Jedrzejczyk and IMMAF has helped promote smaller fighters in the area.
The UFC Won’t Add a New Female Division this Year
Last month’s TUF tryouts doesn’t look good for a possible flyweight division.
The bantamweights were dismissed and they barely had enough for strawweights. With Ronda Rousey being so dominant, it turned off a lot of fights to be in the division with many dropping to flyweight or possibly thinking going all the way down to strawweight.
A flyweight division would devastate an already shaky bantamweight division.
To see the depth of the male divisions, starwweights are strong but not strong enough. I suspect the UFC will sign more 115ers but won’t attempt atomweight until 2017.
Barb Honchak will sign to the UFC
Honchak is the most talented flyweight on the planet.
She has been on a break due to injures and a move to Washington State. Most likely she will return in July to face the winner of the Invicta flyweight tournament, but with the aforementioned crisis at bantamweight, we won’t be surprised if she is offer to join the UFC before or after this.
The UFC will Sign More Foreign Bantamweights
A growing trend in the U.S. amateur divisions this year was to fight at 125. Usually amateurs will go down a weight class once they turn pro so the influx this year will be towards strawweight.
With that in mind, we have seen talent in Europe at 145, 135, and 125 in both pro and amateur with a lot more experience. The big problem with the TUF tryouts were a lot of the European talent weren’t able to come. Neither has the Brazilians, who has seen a surge in talent at 125 and 135.
The UFC will sign more bantamweight fighters from out of country than the US this year. Two to look out for: Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (Poland) and Shizuka Sugiyama (Japan).
Invicta will focus on Rebuilding its 135 Division
Going into the above thoughts, it is in the UFC and Invicta’s best interest for Invicta focus on 135.
Fighters need experience and exposure. Invicta is one of the best ways to do so, if Irene Aldana and Alexa Grasso are any indication.
Invicta will have a Card on TV
We predicted this last year but it didn’t happen. However, we may see this come this year.
Invicta is planning a reality show (more than likely will air on Fight Pass) and they are already set for six cards this year. To have one card on Fox Sports 1 or another outlet would be huge exposure for the company and Fight Pass. They are set up for it, just need to pull the trigger.
Bellator will Crown a Featherweight and Flyweight Champion
Julia Budd versus Marloes Coenen will happen this year. After both has been blowing through opponents and it’s abut time both faced each other for the 145 belt.
The 125 division has grown faster and we won’t be surprised if we see a tournament set up this year to crown a champ there.
Bellator will Sign Cyborg
Cyborg Justino stated she will stay at 145, which is breaking part of the contract the UFC has with her. With the UFC not having a featherweight division, this isn’t much point in keeping her other than to keep Invicta happy. The money is better spent elsewhere, like signing more talent to Invicta.
Weight Cutting will be a Big Issue this Year
The IV ban is big news for all fighters.
UFC fighters will be hit worst with bigger strawweights in particular might not making the cut.
It has yet to be seen, but Invicta may follow suit with the IV ban which will see some shifting and more missed weights.. Most fighters in Invicta can’t afford a professional dietitian, but Shannon Knapp stated on the Invicta podcast that Invicta may have to educate fighters about healthy weight cutting.
More than 50 countries will have pro female bouts with over a dozen holding all female cards
We peaked this year with 47 countries having female professional fights. We have seen Asia expand the most, with eastern Europe start growing a new crop of fighters. The IMMAF has helped add countries to their amateur divisions and as they turn pro, they will draw locally.
RoadFC already announced an all female card in the fall. France held an all female bout this past year, and we expect more countries to follow suit.