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UFC lets pair of female featherweights ranked in top 20 slip away to Bellator

Amber Leibrock has signed with Bellator MMA

With news leaking this week that Amanda "The Lady Killer" Bell (4-4) and Amber Leibrock (2-1) have signed with Bellator, and Megan Anderson continuing to cry about not being offered a contract to fight Cris "Cyborg," it’s pretty clear the UFC isn’t committed to investing in the future of its female featherweight division. To say that things have not gone the UFC’s way regarding the female featherweight ranks would be a major understatement.

In February, the UFC opened a new division for female 145-pound athletes to compete in, unveiling it with a historic title fight pitting Holly "The Preacher’s Daughter" Holm against Germaine de Randamie. Dana White admitted the idea for opening the division came up out of nowhere, without much advance thought or planning. The title fight was essentially thrown together to sell some extra tickets and pay-per-views for the UFC’s debut at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Most fans believed the winner of the title fight would make a quick turnaround, fighting either "Cyborg" or Anderson for the belt in the summer of 2017. As for the UFC brass, apparently they didn’t think that far ahead. Now as summer approaches, the entire division is on hold, with a future in serious doubt.

Holm has been booked for a bantamweight title opposite Bethe Correia, Anderson is still without a UFC contract, and the reigning champ is in no rush to defend her belt, so the UFC is in an awkward, uncomfortable position. The promotion could have easily fixed the situation by signing Anderson and other surging female featherweights to fill out the roster.

Waiting turned out to bite them in the behind. Missing out on Bell and Leibrock is a tough blow for the UFC, as both are ranked in the top 20 in the world and on the upside of their career. The 28-year-old Bell is ranked somewhere between No. 10 and 15 in the world, depending on the ranking site. The California native already holds a win over Gabby Holloway, the woman who is the top contender to challenge for Julia Budd’s belt.

As for Leibrock, the 29-year-old is a knockout artist who went 2-1 under the Invicta FC banner. Her only pro loss came at the hands of Anderson. Look for Bell and Leibrock to make their respective Bellator debuts sometime later this year.

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