The UFC created a new women's featherweight division Tuesday, but failed to find a way to place its arguably best female fighter in the first title contest.
Instead of Orange County trained Brazilian Cris "Cyborg" Santos, the UFC's new 145-pound division will debut with a Feb. 11 title fight in New York between former bantamweight champion Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie (6-3).
"We offered [Cyborg] three fights, she turned it down," UFC President Dana White after the puzzling announcement was made.
"Cyborg" later responded on her Twitter account to White's version of events: "I was supposed to fight Holly in Brasilia. Didn't turn down [the date, I] just asked for March fight date."
White opted instead to place a five-round bout between Holm and De Randamie at Barclays Center in Brooklyn for UFC 208.
He stopped short of identifying that bout as the main event, texting The Times that, "I'm working on all that," referring to other bouts that could be placed on the card, including speeding along a men's featherweight title fight between newly elevated full champion Jose Aldo of Brazil and new interim champion Max Holloway.
Holloway, of Hawaii, has won 10 consecutive UFC fights, including Saturday's triumph in the UFC 206 main event in Toronto against overweight former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
Adding to the pain of the snub of "Cyborg" is the fact that former boxing champion Holm has lost two consecutive fights since her stunning November 2015 second-round knockout of Ronda Rousey in Australia.
Holm lost her belt in March by fifth-round submission to Miesha Tate, then was beaten by No. 2-ranked bantamweight Valentina Shevchenko (13-2) in July.
"Cyborg" has maintained for more than a year that she would have health issues by trying to cut to the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds, so the UFC let her fight at 140 in catch-weight bouts. By dominating those fights atop her pre-UFC success, it's clear there's not a better female fighter in the weight range.