Bellator MMA President Scott Coker Plans To Crown Promotion’s First Women’s Flyweight And Featherweight Champions In 2016

Holly Holm and Joanna J?drzejczyk are recognized as the best in UFC women’s MMA today. “JJ” made a name for herself when she defeated Carla Esparza at UFC 185: Pettis vs. dos Anjos in March of 2015. J?drzejczyk, a fighter who specializes in Muay Thai and boxing, lit up Esparza, who couldn’t get close enough to utilize her wrestling. Esparza was eventually TKO’d in the second round making J?drzejczyk the new UFC women’s strawweight champion.

The story of “The Preacher’s Daughter” is similar. Holm defeated Ronda Rousey at UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm back in November of 2015. Holm, a former boxing champion, humiliated Rousey, a former Judo champion, for two rounds, ending it with a KO victory after Rousey ate a brutal head kick.

Though the aforementioned women are making waves in women’s MMA, they have the peculiar detail of being signed only to UFC. Scott Coker, the president of Bellator MMA, realizes the potential of women’s MMA and is doing his best to incorporate it into his promotion. Coker recently announced Bellator MMA will crown its first women’s champions in 2016. However, they will be for the women’s flyweight and featherweight divisions.

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To be fair, building up a women’s flyweight and featherweight division is a very smart move made by Scott Coker. For starters, if he tried to start women’s MMA in Bellator MMA with a strawweight and bantamweight division, he’d be in direct competition with UFC. That would have been a terrible move, given how built up those divisions are in UFC. By going the flyweight and featherweight route, he isn’t just diversifying women’s MMA among the top promotions, but making two divisions exclusive for the time being.

Right now, the institution of a women’s flyweight and featherweight division by crowing champions is in its initial stages. However, Scott Coker did make a statement that MMA fans will see this plan come to fruition.

“That’s definitely in the plans. We’re committed. You’re going to see champions in both weight classes.”

Lena Ovchynnikova
Lena Ovchynnikova is the most notable flyweight contender Bellator MMA has signed for their women’s flyweight division. [Image via Lena Ovchynnikova’s Official Facebook Page]
The question is, what are Scott Coker and Bellator MMA doing now in said initial stages to crown their promotion’s flyweight and featherweight champions in the women’s divisions? Starting with the women’s flyweight division, MMA Fighting reports Coker and Bellator MMA have signed on several 125-pound weight class fighters in the recent months. Their most notable signing is Lena Ovchynnikova, but they also signed Ilima MacFarlene (famous for brutally knocking out the “Soccer Mom” Katie Castro) and Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez (wife of UFC lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez). Coker claims that if things continue smoothly, the process to crown a flyweight champion can start by summertime.

“We’re aggressively signing talent at 125 pounds. Things have to play out a bit, but by the summer, we should be in position start the process on crowning a champion.”

Julia Budd
Julia Budd is expected to fight Marloes Coenen for the first women’s featherweight championship in Bellator MMA [Image via Julia Budd’s Personal Facebook]
For the featherweight division, the crowning of their champion will come down to one fight: Marloes Coenen versus Julia Budd. Coenen has been doing well in Bellator MMA. She is currently 2-0-0 in the promotion with her latest victory being a submission win over Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 141: Guillard vs. Girtz. Budd is on a six-fight win streak since her loss against Ronda Rousey back in 2011. After defeating Roberta Rovel at Bellator 146: Kato vs. Manhoef, she called out Coenen.

The only hindrance to Marloes Coenen fighting Julia Budd for the women’s featherweight title at the moment is Coenen’s injury. Once Coenen is healed up, her desire for Bellator MMA to host a women’s championship fight, as reported by MMA Junkie, will come true.

[Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images]

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