2019 marks the beginning of a new era and with the inaugural flyweight champion crowned, the 125-pound division is one to keep an eye on this year.
In the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 26, Nicco Montano defeated Roxanne Modafferi to become the UFC’s inaugural flyweight champion. Once more flyweight matchups were booked, Valentina Shevchenko made her flyweight debut, coming from the 135-pound division. Valentina was a former title challenger and has wins over some of the best, like Holly Holm and Juliana Pena. She has even gone the distance with the double champ, Amanda Nunes, a fight where many people thought Valentina did enough to get the win in their first tango inside the Octagon.
The UFC and fans knew Valentina would be a nightmare at flyweight, being that she is a natural 125-pound fighter and had won world titles in Muay Thai, plus two victories over the former strawweight queen, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. When it came time to defend her belt against Shevchenko, Montano was forced to pull out, being stripped of the belt with the new champion being crowned at UFC 232. Valentina picked up an unanimous decision win against Jedrzejczyk, becoming the undisputed UFC flyweight champion.
With Schevchenko atop the division, here are some flyweight fights that could happen this year:
Potential matchups for women's 125-pound division
Andrea Lee (#14) vs Jennifer Maia (#11)
Lee is one of my favorite prospects in the UFC and she is ready to make a splash in the flyweight division. I believe she will be one of the top contenders this year and will climb the ranks fast. There is no better way than to test herself against a former Invicta FC champion like Jennifer Maia. Both of these women are looking to make their way to the top of the rankings in 2019, so they might as well scrap for the spot. This could only happen if Lee makes it past Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC Phoenix.
Liz Carmouche (#6) vs Joanne Calderwood (#10)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (#4) vs Lauren Murphy (#7)
Nicco Montano vs Alexis Davis (#5)
This could be a very interesting fight. Many people have been criticizing the former and first flyweight champ, saying she was dodging Valentina Schevchenko before they were schedule to meet at UFC 228. I believe this is a good comeback fight for Nicco and would allow her to gain some momentum again to eventually fight the top of the flyweight division that she was forced to leave before being stripped of her belt.
Sijara Eubanks (#2) vs Paige VanZant
Valentina Schevchenko (C) vs Jessica Eye (#1)
The reason I feel this is a great fight is because Jessica Eye is a real veteran of the sport. Eye has been working hard and just became the number one contender by taking on the division's best. Her fighting for that flyweight title in Cleveland would be a sell out and at the end of the day, Valentina would be fighting the true number one contender for her belt. This is the best matchup to make at 125-pounds, without a doubt.