Top 15 Female Mixed Martial Artist as of March 2018
I want to say first off, through the course of thoroughly reviewing these fighters and all of their respective divisions, I realized how bad the real rankings really are. There’s no sense to why a lot of fighters are ranked ahead of others. In some cases, it’s clear to see that some fighters are ranked lower than another fighter based on a loss to that fighter from years ago. This is the fight game, fighters evolve and get better. At some point, a loss from years ago means nothing, especially if one fighter has excelled since that loss, and the other has declined.
Also, it’s worth noting, the UFC Strawweight division is stacked, there’s so many good fighters I didn’t put on here because it was tough to put them ahead of others. The same could be said for the Bantamweight division. As for the Flyweight and Featherweight divisions, it will be some time before we know how good the majority of the fighters in those divisions really are. That includes the current UFC Flyweight Champion, Nicco Montano. For that reason, there’s only a few fighters listed from those divisions.
There’s several future title challengers outside these 15 fighters, and the only reason their not listed, is based solely on their current resumes. I cannot put other fighters ahead of these listed, just because I believe they are capable of being a champion one day, or that they have a bright future. I went only based on current resumes, recent performances, and the caliber of competition they’ve beat.
In addition, the majority of the list contains UFC talent. Outside the top 15, there’s plenty of fighters to mention from organizations like Invicta FC, Bellator, and Combate Americas. All of which have fighters that will soon be among the most elite Mixed Martial Artist.
All that stated, my view of the rankings means no disrespect to any fighters ranked higher elsewhere or to any fighters not included. There’s a ton of talent in Women’s Mixed Martial Arts and there’s only one way to find out who’s the best, they have to fight. These 15 fighters below are more than proven.
#1 Cris Cyborg
In my opinion, there’s no surprise here, it’s hard for me to understand why Cyborg isn’t number 1 on everybody’s top rankings. I don’t understand why she’s not ranked higher on the overall pound for pound rankings either. Cyborg hasn’t lost a fight in nearly 13 years and 17 of her last 20 wins have come by way of knockout. She’s a dominant force in Women’s Mixed Martial Arts. I won’t pretend to be clueless, I know she has critics for her failed drug test of banned substances. However, I 100% believe she is not a cheater and that she is a real talent. Cyborg is amazing and her resume is unprecedented. Based on the current landscape, nobody deserves the number 1 spot more than her. Had Valentina won both her fights against Nunes, or Joanna beat Rose, it could be a different story, but that’s not the case.
#2 Amanda Nunes
In Amanda’s last 5 fights, she has beat Valentina Shevchenko twice, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Sara McMann. That’s one solid track record. Yes, both of Nunes’ fights with Valentina were very close and controversial, but that’s the result of two very high level Mixed Martial Artist competing in the cage. Amanda Nunes deserves to be at the top of this list. To me, her current recent win streak over Valentina, Ronda, and Miesha is more impressive than any other fighters current win streak on this list. For that reason, there’s no way I could rank her any lower than number #2. Nunes is supposed to defend her belt against Raquel Pennington in May of this year. Another win will only further improve her legacy. There’s talks of Dana White making a fight with Nunes and Cyborg but hopefully Nunes decides to defend her belt.
#3 Rose Namajunes
Look, Rose may not have the best recent resume considering she’s 2-1 in her last 3 fights, but that means absolutely nothing. Like I said in the beginning of this article, fighters evolve. Rose Namajunes just dethroned Joanna Jedrzejczyk, a fighter I’d likely have #1 on this list had she not lost to Rose. She didn’t just beat her, she dominated Joanna and knocked her out in the first round. You don’t beat one of the most dominating champions in the sport and rank any lower than #3, in my view. In addition to beating Joanna, Thug Rose has also beat Michelle Waterson, Tecia Torres, Paige Vanzant, and Angela Hill in her last 5 wins. That’s not an easy path.
#4 Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Like I’ve stated before, I still can’t believe Joanna lost her belt. She was one of the most impressive champions I’ve ever watched compete. That just shows you the caliber of fighters competing in the UFC Strawweight division. She did lose her belt decisively, there’s no arguing that. I don’t believe one loss defines a fighter and for that reason, she’s still easily one of the top 4 female fighters in the world. She has a long career ahead of her as well, so her current situation is not her final one. Prior to losing to Rose, Joanna had won all 8 of her UFC fights, which included 5 title defenses. She’s a phenom and we get to see her back in action on April 7th in her rematch with Rose Namajunes.
#5 Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina Shevchenko is tremendously talented. Her only two losses in the UFC have come against Amanda Nunes and both were very close and controversial fights. Outside of that, she’s beat Sarah Kaufman, Holly Holm, Julianna Pena, and Priscila Cachoeira. In addition, her first 5 bouts in the UFC took place in the Bantamweight division, whereas Valentina is better suited for the Flyweight division. She made her Flyweight debut in February of this year putting on one of the most dominant performances in recent years. At 125 pounds, I see Valentina going on one of the most historical runs the UFC has ever seen. Valentina Shevchenko is incredible.
#6 Jessica Andrade
Jessica Andrade is the perfect example of what I mean by fighters evolve and past losses eventually mean absolutely nothing. After going 4-3 in the UFC bantamweight division, where she was drastically undersized, she has been terrorizing the Strawweight division. She is 5-1 at Strawweight, with her one loss coming to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Even though she lost to Joanna, she put up a heck of a fight. Since then, she has put on two masterful performances. The definition of a fighter evolving, is Jessica Andrade. The very next fight after she lost to Joanna, she faced off with Claudia Gadelha. I don’t think I’ll ever get that fight out of my head. Andrade left as much of herself in that cage as I’ve ever seen from a fighter. I now consider her the female version of Khabib Nurmagomedov. Fight over fight, she went from great to phenomenal. She ragdolled a very talented Gadelha and put on another similar performance against a fiery Tecia Torres in her last fight. I’m amazed by Jessica Andrade and can’t wait to see what she does in her future fights.
#7 Raquel Pennington
I’m not quite certain why Raquel Pennington is not the number 1 contender in the UFC bantamweight division. Maybe it’s because she lost to the current UFC #1 contender Holly Holm, over 3 years ago. Since that loss to Holm, she has beat Jessica Andrade(when Jessica was at 135), Bethe Correia, Elizabeth Phillips, and Miesha Tate. “Rocky” is very, very good. Her loss to Holm was a close fight and she’s only drastically improved since then. She hasn’t fought since November of 2016 due to injuries but is expected to be back in May of this year to fight Amanda Nunes for the Bantamweight title. However, there’s recent talks of Dana White scrapping the fight to put on Cyborg vs Nunes instead. I don’t like that idea one bit, give Rocky the fight and let Cyborg fight a featherweight.
#8 Julianna Pena
I honestly felt Julianna Pena was going to be fighting for the belt last year. That was until she ran until a brick wall that is Valentina Shevchenko. Valentina beat Pena at her own game, grappling. That’s a testament to Shevchenko’s skill. Prior to that, Pena had wins over Milana Dudieva, Jessica Eye, and Cat Zingano. Her win over Zingano was very impressive and the moment you knew she was something great. Her loss to Valentina was a lesson that will likely only make her much better. Losing to an elite fighter like Valentina early in your career, doesn’t lose you much credibility, in my opinion. Pena is still a special talent and is going to have some great fights in the future. She hasn’t competed since January of last year due to having a baby late in 2017. She is expected back in the cage this year and I see her being mentioned in title talks very soon after.
#9 Ketlen Vieira
The new kid on the block in the bantamweight division is Ketlen Vieira. At a perfect 10-0, she is coming off a stellar performance against Cat Zingano at UFC 222 on March 3rd, 2018. She is now 4-0 in the UFC with wins over Ashlee Evans-Smith, Sara McMann, and Cat Zingano along the way. Ketlen has a monster grappling game and has shown her dominance in every single one of her fights. It’s crazy how much talent there is at 135 right now, Ketlen Vieira is right in the middle of it all. She’s a tough fight for anyone on the roster, including the champ. It’s interesting to see how far she goes. If timing works out, Ketlen Vieira vs Julianna Pena is one heck of match to make. Keep an eye on Ketlen, she may be moving up the Women’s rankings pretty quickly.
#10 Marion Reneau
I love watching fighters dig deep, find a different level to themselves, then display it for us inside the cage. That’s exactly what Marion Reneau is doing for us right now. After losing to Holly Holm in 2015, then to Ashlee Evans-Smith in early 2016, Reneau has gone 3-0-1. All 3 of her wins were finishes and her draw against Beth Correia in March of last year was a good showing. Marion has a killer ground game and that’s what makes her so exciting for this division. Ahead of her in the rankings, there are several excellent grappling specialist and that’s what seperates the UFC Women’s Bantamweight division from any other division in the organization. There’s a lot of very intriguing match-ups to be made. I put Reneau at number 10 and ahead of Holm because she is fighting on another level right now. Her loss to Holm means nothing in 2018, she is not the same fighter she was 3 years ago. She has continuously improved and she has a ton of heart. I’m impressed with what she’s doing and look forward to her fights to come. I see her as the dark horse at 135.
#11 Holly Holm
This is one of the most loved fighters in the sport and for good reason. Holly Holm is one of the biggest risk takers in Mixed Martial Arts. She’s not scared to take on any challenge you put in front of her. She started her UFC career with wins over Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau back in early 2015, then infamously knocked out Ronda Rousey for the UFC Bantamweight Title, at the end of 2015. Since then, she has gone 1-4. She’s still ranked #1 in the bantamweight division, even with the amount of losses she’s had. The reason is explainable. Her first loss was when she lost the title to Miesha Tate. Then the second loss was to the amazing and talented Valentina Shevchenko. In the fight with Miesha, Holm was winning the fight until Tate submitted her late in the 5th round. In the fight with Valentina, although it was a clear win for Valentina, Holm still made it a competitive fight. Her other two losses took place at featherweight, one to Germaine de Randamie and the other to Cris Cyborg. Holm is not a featherweight, she took the fights because they were offered and because she’s not scared of any challenge. The fight with Germaine was close and she went all five rounds with Cris Cyborg. 1-4 seems bad unless you know the real story. Still, I have Holm ranked #11 on my list, because 4 losses no matter what the circumstances, is still 4 losses. Holm is an elite athlete and an amazing talent. She’s not going no where but she does need to get back to winning fights. She will.
#12 Tecia Torres
The “Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres joins her significant other, Raquel “Rocky” Pennington on this list. She is 3-1 in her last 4 fight with the one loss being her most recent fight against Jessica Andrade. Torres was facing the best version of Andrade we have ever seen and still did very well in the fight. At the beginning of the fight, she was winning. After that, Andrade took over. Tecia being in the cage with a vintage Andrade is a major learning experience. There’s no way Torres doesn’t come back stronger from that loss. She faced the most dominant grappler in the division and her striking looked impressive. Prior to losing to Andrade, Tecia had beat Bec Rawlings, Juliana Lima, and Michelle Waterson in 3 dominating showings. She proved she’s an elite fighter prior to fighting Jessica, and even in losing to her, she further established she belongs competing with the elite in the division. We will see much more from Tecia Torres.
#13 Claudia Gadelha
The super confident Brazilian, Claudia Gadelha is an awesome fighter. She is 4-3 in the UFC, with her 3 losses coming to Joanna Jedrzejczyk twice, and Jessica Andrade most recently. The only reason I have her #13 on this list is because I feel the opposition she has beat, is less than those I have ranked before her. She has 4 wins over Tina Lahdemaki, Jessica Aguilar, Cortney Casey, and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Her submission win over Karolina was impressive but is her only win against top level opposition. That said, she gave Joanna a run for her money in their first fight and went 5 hard rounds in their 2nd match. Nobody puts on performances with Joanna like that without being considered among the elite in the division. Gadelha did lose her last fight to Andrade, but she was on a two fight win streak prior to that. Also, we’ve got the point across already that Jessica Andrade is performing on a unheard of level right now. Gadelha is set to fight Carla Esparza in June. She’s a great fighter and no doubt has much more to show. Besides, it wouldn’t be right to not see Joanna vs Gadelha 3 some time down the road. I’m sure Gadelha is set on making that happen.
#14 Megan Anderson
As I got to the end of this list, it was hard to to decide which fighters to include. There’s a ton of talent and arguments for a lot of them. I had to include Megan Anderson though, she’s the #2 Featherweight in the world, and the only true contender for Cris Cyborg. At 6 feet tall, she is a big and strong Featherweight fighter. She’s won her last 4 fights under the Invicta Fighting Championships banner, and all 4 were by knockout. She has the power, strength, and size to give Cris Cyborg problems. There’s not a better fight to make for Cris Cyborg right now. Megan Anderson hasn’t even got started yet, her time is soon to come. We will know how great she truly is when she finally gets the opportunity to step into the Octagon with Cris Cyborg. Hopefully, that’s Cyborgs’ next fight.
#15 Ilima-Lei Macfarlane
Ilima-Lei “The Ilimanator” Macfarlane is Bellator’s Flyweight Champion. She is a perfect 7-0 with 4 wins by submission and 1 by knockout. 6 of her 7 fights have been for Bellator and she’s been running through her opposition. The girl can fight and she’s making things look easy right now in Bellator. With a lot of new Flyweight talent on the bantamweight roster, 2018 will be a big year for the Bellator Flyweight champion. The 27 year old from Honolulu, Hawaii still has a lot to show.
2018 will be the biggest year yet for Women’s Mixed Martial Arts
There has never been this much talent in Women’s Mixed Martial Arts. I could have made a list triple this size for all the talent that’s out there. There’s fighters just starting out, there’s fighters yet to get that big fight they need for recognition, then there’s fighters not on the radar that will evolve into greatness. The current landscape will look much different by the end of the year. Expect a couple different changes of the guard and for a few fighters at the bottom of the rankings to make their way to the top.
It’s not just the UFC making waves either. Invicta Fighting Championships has a ton of great talent that will be making noise by the end of 2018. Fighters like Yaya Rincon, Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, Felecia Spencer, Mallory Martin, and Janaisa Morandin are just some of the names to look out for in Invicta this year. Of course, you have Sarah Kaufman looking to make a career resurgence in Invicta as well. In addition, Combate Americas is looking to further develop their WMMA roster. That’s apparent with their recent acquisition of former 5 time World Champion boxer, Amanda Serrano. Also, Bellator is starting to develop tons of great talent and their Women’s divisions are getting increasingly more competitive. 2018 is going to be a big year for WMMA, no matter what organization your talking about.