Mike Winklejohn is one of the most accomplished coaches in MMA history. He's the longtime head coach of former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm, even before her days in MMA. Holm will be fighting Germaine De Randamie at UFC 208 to crown the first UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion. Winklejohn himself is surprised that Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos isn’t fighting for the gold, perhaps due to the fact she turned down fights with Holm before.
“That’s exactly what happened, is Cyborg can’t make the normal 135-pound division and so, because she gets to play by special rules, we said okay look, we’ll fight you at 138,” he said on The MMA Hour. “That was our first offer. I’m not going to lie, I probably would have went to 139 with it. But it wouldn’t have made sense for Holly, where the weight was at, to offer to fight her at a higher weight. Of course not, why would I do that? Apparently [Justino] turned that down. And then Dana came up with a 145-pound title apparently Dana offered it to Cyborg before we even accepted that it was for a title, and I think she turned it down as well. So, that’s all I know about it other than Holly has never turned down a fight in her life. She’s willing to fight, no doubt about it, even out of her weight division. And how could you turn this one down? A title fight at 145? It puts her right back where she wants to go mentally. And when she has to step up, that’s her best for performance. Very surprised that they would offer without Cyborg involved. It makes sense now that Cyborg…they needed to put some fights together, I think, and Holly is a big draw. She can sell, and they needed some big fights, and they needed them now. They can’t wait down the road until Cyborg gets her weight down or whatever the case is. That’s just the way it played out.”
If Holm can defeat De Randamie to become the first women’s featherweight champion in UFC history, she would have to stay at the division until she lost the gold, but Winklejohn isn’t so sure he likes Holm staying at featherweight.
“Yes and no,” he said. “The [weight] cuts have never been easy, and Holly is very good size for 136. Yes and no. But she’s right in between. I mean, a 140-pound division would probably be a great place for Holly Holm. And she’s getting older. She’s getting older and the cuts are getting a little bit harder on her, on her body, but she’s willing to fight in either division.”
UFC 208 takes place on Saturday, February 11 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York with no headliners announced as of yet.