Germaine de Randamie has been stripped of her UFC women's featherweight championship after refusing to defend her title against Cris "Cyborg" Justino, the promotion announced Monday.
Justino will instead fight Megan Anderson at UFC 214 for the newly vacant championship.
"UFC has informed Germaine de Randamie and her management team that she is being removed as the women's featherweight champion due to her unwillingness to fight the No. 1 ranked contender, Cris 'Cyborg' Justino," UFC said in a statement, per ESPN.com.
"UFC maintains that any champion is expected to accept fights against the top contenders in their respective weight classes in order to maintain the integrity of the sport."
De Randamine reacted to the news in an interview with Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com:
"I had absolutely no idea that I was being stripped of the belt," de Randamie told Helwani. "I found out through social media. Cyborg (Justino) is going to fight Megan (Anderson) for the belt.
"Nobody ever told me anything about it."
Justino (17-1) is 2-0 since moving to UFC last year. She defeated Leslie Smith and Lina Lansberg via TKO in her first two bouts, needing only three total rounds.
"Since I've been fighting in the UFC, people have been saying that there are no women my weight to fight," Justino said. "This proves that wasn't true. Instead of fighting someone who has lost their last couple of fights at a lower weight, I'm getting the chance to fight the No. 3-ranked featherweight in the world."
De Randamine's public reason for refusing to fight Justino is her past performance-enhancing drug use. Cyborg was suspended for a year after failing a drug test in 2011 and also failed an out-of-competition drug test in January, though that was later proven to be for a legitimate medical issue.
"Germaine and her team have talked, and the position is that she will not fight 'Cyborg' because 'Cyborg' is a known and proven cheater," Brian Butler, de Randamine's manager, said in the statement to MMAjunkie's Mike Bohn. "Even after so much scrutiny has been put on 'Cyborg,' she still managed to pop for something and will always be a person of suspicion who is trying to beat the system rather than just conforming to the rules."
Anderson (8-2) will be making her UFC debut. Her most recent bout was a win over Charmaine Tweet at Invicta FC 21, which gave her the interim featherweight championship in that promotion. Anderson said she has signed a multi-fight agreement with UFC and looks forward to building the 145-pound division.
"I definitely think the UFC created this division around one person [Justino], but unfortunately I don't think she is someone you can build around," Anderson said, per Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com. "As dominant as she's been, she doesn't have the other aspects it takes for that. I do.
"And I think by signing a multi-fight agreement—say worst-case scenario, it doesn't work out as planned on July 29, and the UFC cuts me? That would just reiterate that they're not invested in 145 pounds. So I think whatever the UFC's plan is for me, whether I win or lose this fight, will show how they view this division."