EXCLUSIVE | Megan Anderson advocates for more featherweights—and atomweights—on the UFC roster

At UFC 225, which goes down on June 9 in Chicago, Illinois, former Invicta featherweight champ Megan Anderson will make her anticipated Octagon debut opposite former bantamweight champion Holly Holm.

This bout is an important one, as the winner is very likely to emerge as the next challenger for Cris Cyborg‘s well-guarded UFC featherweight title. Yet that’s not the only reason this Anderson vs. Holm fight is significant. It will also be the first non-title women’s featherweight bout to occur in the UFC, which could indicate that the UFC is finally starting to get serious about the division.

While a legitimate, number-one contender bout is certainly a positive sign for the UFC’s women’s featherweight division, Anderson believes it’s time for the UFC to make a real, concerted effort to beef-up the divisional roster. And not just by shepherding a few bigger bantamweights up to featherweight, either. In her eyes, the UFC would be wise to harvest some of the talent currently competing under the Invicta banner.

“I would love for the UFC to start signing more featherweights,” Anderson said on the latest episode of BJ Penn Radio. “You know, you have to build a division somehow. Why don’t  you just sign all the featherweights that they have in Invicta right now and build from there? Divisions aren’t built overnight so let’s have a slow, steady intake of featherweights.”

“Let’s promote signing other featherweights because, at the end of the day, a division isn’t just solely made up of a few people,” she added. “In every division you need to have the bottom level, the middle tier, and the top tier, and that’s how you work your way up into the position I’m in. I was at the bottom and I worked my way up, and every division needs that. So whether there may be more middle of the road fighters than top, there’s nothing wrong with that because the only way that they can get to that top level is by fighting up. Taking those opportunities. So I just wish that they would back [the division]. Who knows what will happen in the next year or so.”

Showcasing an undeniably selfless quality, Anderson then admitted she’d also like to see the UFC invest in a new, 105-pound atomweight division.

“I’m not just talking about the featherweight division,” she said. “The UFC currently doesn’t have an atomweight division, and I know a lot of people who don’t watch Invicta don’t know that there’s an atomweight division, but there are a lot of high caliber athletes at 105 pounds, so why not give them an opportunity as well to be on that stage? I feel like this is a movement for, I guess you could say gender equality. Let’s build up more women so that you can have an amazing roster. Featherweights, we’re some of the hardest hitting women in the MMA. We’re as big as guys, we hit the same as guys, and there’s a lot of knockouts and a lot of finishes. That’s an exciting division, why not get behind it and start signing more people?”

“They’re phenomenal athletes, and I find it exciting watching them fight, because I’ve seen people like Jinh Yu Frey knock people out with her kicks, at 105 pounds,” Anderson said, continuing to lobby for an atomweight division in the UFC. “It’s exciting. I just hope that one day we can see all weight divisions stacked.”

Do you agree with Megan Anderson on this one?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/19/2018.