Note: This is a column I wrote for MMALatest News.
Alexis Dufresne came into the UFC with a 5-0 record, high hopes, and probably a lot of pressure on her shoulders. After back-to-back losses, against Sarah Moras and Marion Reaneu (in fights where she missed weight) the UFC cut the “Sneaky Zebra.”
But Dufresne (5-2 MMA, 0-0 Bellator) is getting a second chance at stardom. In a news release, Bellator announced they had signed Dufresne to its featherweight division.
Despite her losses and weight issues, Dufresne, who currently trains with Team Quest, has a lot of potential to grow in the sport. Prior to her UFC run she had five first-round finishes, three of which were under 90 seconds. She is also a five-time International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation world champion.
She’ll also be returning to her natural weight of 145 pounds, which is where she should fight anyways. It was admirable for her to drop to bantamweight and make a go in the octagon, but returning to featherweight will result in less harsher weight cuts and hopefully more wins and impressive finishes.
Dufresne isn’t the only fighter Bellator signed. The promotion also announced that it brokered deals with prospects Roberta “Crusher” Paim (4-0, 0-0), who has four first-round stoppages, and Iony Razafiarison (2-0, 0-0) of France.
In the news release, President Scott Coker said the promotion is proud to add these three to its roster.
“I see several potential matchups that would make for some great fights. We will continue to build and support the premiere women’s featherweight division in MMA.”
These fighters now bring Bellator’s featherweight division to eight, though the promotion has yet to crown a champion, something they hopefully remedy shortly.
Invicta Fighting Championships is the only promotion with an active women’s 145-pound champion – Cris “Cyborg” Justino. Although the Cyborg is at the top of the Invicta mountain, there isn’t a real top five. Justino also keeps claiming that she’ll drop to bantamweight to fight UFC women’s bantamweight titleholder Ronda Rousey. If that happens, then Invicta might be left without a champion.
Personally I’d like to see Bellator feature more weight classes, but the featherweight division at least gives it a chance to distinguish themselves from the UFC who doesn’t have any plans on starting a women’s 145-pound weight class at the moment.
As for Dufresne, she’ll be in the mix with veterans and rising stars. I already see an impressive grappling battle between her and Talita “Treta” Nogueira or Marloes “Rumina” Coenen. She could also engage in an interesting striking war with Paim or Julia “The Jewel” Budd.
Being a UFC veteran gives her something the promotion can label her with because she’s the only fighter out of the eight that has octagon experience. They’ll probably do it to sell fights or at least distinguish her from the rest of the roster.
If that’s the case, then hopefully she can take the label of UFC veteran and turn it into Bellator champion.