Megan Anderson has a huge fight coming up at UFC 232. She’s facing veteran Cat Zingano on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas, a fight that has major implications for the featherweight division. The co-main event of UFC 232 has featherweight champion Cris Cyborg defending against bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes in a superfight.
But while UFC 232 should be a celebration and pivotal moment for the 145-pound division, Anderson has accepted the hard reality. She told MMA Fighting that she truly does not know where the division will go from here, even with these two high-profile fights on the docket.
“This division is so up in the air at the moment, I’m just going fight to fight,” Anderson said. “Because who knows what’s gonna happen.”
Anderson (8-3) is one of the few true 145-pound fighters on the roster. She’s coming off a unanimous decision loss to Holly Holm at UFC 225 back in June. A win there could have set her up for a future date against Cyborg for the title, a bout she as once booked for. But if she beats Zingano, Anderson said she’s not really sure what that will mean.
Other than Cyborg and Anderson, the cupboard is mostly bare at featherweight. Zingano and Nunes are bantamweights moving up. So was Holm, who has made it clear she expects a future at 135 pounds where she is the former champion. Anderson, who is 6-foot-1 and has a hard weight cut to 145 like Cyborg, has no chance of dropping to bantamweight.
The solution to this problem was supposed to be The Ultimate Fighter 28, which wrapped earlier this month. TUF 28 featured heavyweights and women’s featherweight fighters. It seemed like the UFC, which doesn’t even present official rankings for the division, was finally getting serious about filling out the 145-pound weight class.
In Anderson’s opinion, that has not quite worked out the way some thought. There are multiple “featherweights” from the season now calling out bantamweights in the UFC for their next fights. TUF 28 winner Macy Chiasson is fighting at bantamweight next, it was reported this week by the Las Vegas Review Journal. That has Anderson fired up.
“It’s just one of those things that just f*cking pisses me off,” Anderson said. “I don’t know. If you want to be in the UFC at 135 pounds, just f*cking come out and say it. Don’t play this bullshit about, ‘Oh, I’ll fight at 145 if they want me.’ No, let’s be honest. You don’t want to fight at 145. That’s why instead of calling and campaigning for fights at 145 pounds, you’re now calling out people at 135 pounds. Like, if you really wanted to fight at that weight division, you’d be asking to fight at that weight division. But you’re not. So, let’s be real here. You don’t actually want to be in that weight division. So the whole point of The Ultimate Fighter for the 145-pound division was f*cking shit. Because none of you want to be there in that weight division. You just want to go down and thought it was an easy way in [to the UFC].”
Anderson, 28, said she’s not understanding the excuse that some fighters are giving about not wanting to cut to 135 multiple times in a short period for TUF, because it wasn’t supposed to be a 135-pound season. TUF 28 was supposed to be for women’s featherweights.
“The thing that annoys me is their reasons, like ‘Oh, I can’t make weight at 135 pounds two or three times in five weeks,’” Anderson said. “Well, they didn’t actually do a bantamweight season. What are you talking about? It’s not like you went up to 145 because they’re doing a bantamweight season and you couldn’t cut weight. They weren’t doing that at all. It was specifically made to build the 145-pound division and this is what you get when you put bantamweights in a season, where they don’t really want to fight at that weight, they just want to get in the UFC at 135. To be honest, that’s what’s happening.”
Anderson said she doesn’t think the UFC is serious about building the 145-pound division, either, because there has been almost no news about the promotion signing most of the fighters from the season. Anderson, an Australia native, said she asked to fight at UFC Adelaide against one of the fighters coming off the show, but the UFC told her they didn’t have a “suitable opponent” for that card.
“Otherwise they’d be signing people and they’re not,” Anderson said, in response to why she doesn’t think the UFC is trying to fill out the division. “That leaves someone like me in a really interesting position, because it’s like, what do I do? I want to be in the UFC and I want to fight. I’m not one of those people that can drop to 145 pounds, though.
“Sign the featherweights in Invicta. Sign the featherweights that aren’t in Bellator. F*cking sign anyone.”
Macy Chiasson won the TUF 28 season for women’s featherweight, beating Pannie Kianzad by second-round submission at the TUF 28 Finale earlier this month. She is a true 145-pound fighter and even fought at 155 as an amateur. But she only has three pro fights, Anderson said, and it’s going to be difficult to match her up with anyone if the division is this sparse.
“How are you gonna build someone like her?” Anderson said. “You can’t just throw her up against someone like [Cyborg] or something like that. She’s 3-0. Would a commission even sanction that fight? The experience and number of fights is significantly different. What do you do?”
Anderson is not angry at the UFC necessarily. She wants to fight for the promotion and she is grateful they stuck with her during a hard time last year when she had to pull out of the fight with Cyborg. Anderson also believes an issue with her division is that no one else is making the UFC really want them, the way Ronda Rousey once did for all women’s fighters.
“I think a big problem with the division, too, is no one wants to f*cking market themselves,” Anderson said. “This isn’t just about fighting anymore. You have to play the game. It’s about being marketable, it’s about being able to be promotable. You can’t expect an organization to promote you and build your brand when you aren’t wiling to do it yourself. I feel like that is a big issue in the division, too. You have to make people want to watch you fight. You have to make yourself interesting, you have to make yourself stand out. If you don’t want to do that, then you’re gonna get left behind and you’re not gonna get the opportunities.”
Anderson has no idea what the future will bring after UFC 232. All she knows is that a good showing against Zingano will only help her cause.
“We have like three people from The Ultimate Fighter season wanting to have fights at 135 pounds,” Anderson said. “So I have no idea what they’re doing. Whatever happens next, happens next and we’ll come to that. Really that all is dependent on my performance on Dec. 29.”