Who are the greatest pound for pound women fighters in MMA today? Its a shifting and increasingly growing area with ever better competition in wider array of organisations. So lets run through the list of some pretty badass women starting with those who didn’t quite make the cut ….at least not yet!
Number Ten – Felice Nicole Herrig
Felice Herrig has won numerous professional MMA fights, and won the International Kickboxing Federation Pro Muay Thai United States Bantamweight Title. Prior to Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig’s move to Mixed Martial Arts, Herrig held a professional kickboxing record of 23-5. As a pro kickboxer Herrig won the International Kickboxing Federation Pro Muay Thai United States Bantamweight Title. She won the title on November 15, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, when she defeated Katie Meehan by unanimous decision, 49-46, 48-47 and 49-46. She has twice become the International Kickboxing Federation Open Tournament Champion. Felice has fought in Bellator, Invicta and currently fights in the UFC strawweight division, where she is the #9-ranked female strawweight fighter in the world according to the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings.
Number Nine – Paige Vanzant
VanZant came across the UFC legend Ken Shamrock`s gym ‘the Lion’s Den’ by accident while looking for a dance studio and at the urging of her father started training there in boxing and mixed martial arts. She quickly became passionate about the sport and began training for amateur fights. Her amateur career was short and consisted of only one fight, which she won by submission. It was 2 months after this victory that she decided to turn pro. She subsequently trained at the Reno Academy of Combat and Team Alpha Male. VanZant made her professional mixed martial arts debut on June 30, 2012 at UWF’s Tournament of Warriors Finale against Jordan Nicole Gaza and despite her young age at 18 went on to win by split decision. She subsequently fought at Invicta and later the UFC in December 2013. VanZant was announced as one of the 11 women signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for its newly created Strawweight division. Van Zant is not only an exciting fighter but possesses charisma and a media savy, which is fast making her a rising star in the division. She is also hot as hell.
Number Eight – Sara McMann
Sara McMann has been able to translate her success as a world class wrestler into a very promising career in the UFC. Prior to becoming a member of the Revolution MMA fight club, she was an Olympic Athlete. She is the first American woman in history to receive a silver medal in Olympic wrestling, which she won at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. McMann won silver medal in the 2003 world championships and a bronze medal in the 2005 and 2007 world championships. McMann has a 7-1 record and has fought in both Strikeforce and Invicta before moving to the UFC. Her only loss came against Ronda Rousey, who knocked out McMann with a painful blow to the liver. McMann does volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity, and has traveled to Sri Lanka with Olympic teammates to help victims of the Tsunami rebuild homes for those displaced by the tidal wave. She also helps with youth clubs and is ranked an all round number one human being.
Number Seven – Sarah Kaufman
Sarah Kaufman born September 20, 1985 in Canada originally started as a dancer before becoming interested in an MMA club which practiced in the same studio. Kaufman was the first Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion and was also the first and only Hardcore Championship Fighting Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Kaufman debuted for Armageddon Fighting Championship on April 2, 2011 at the promotion’s fifth event, Judgment Day. Less than one month later on May 15, 2009 at Strikeforce Challengers: Evangelista vs. Aina, Kaufman made her Strikeforce debut as a late replacement against wrestler Miesha Tate. Kaufman won the fight by Unanimous Decision. Kaufman is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and competes in the UFC women’s bantamweight division. After signing with the UFC she would later face Champion Ronda Rousey in a title fight on August 18, 2012, in California. She was defeated by submission due to an armbar early in the first round. All in all Sarah Kaufaman has suffered few losses in her career, and has had her hand raised in victory many times.
Number Six – Miesha Tate
Miesha Theresa Tate is the only woman to ever win a Strikeforce tournament, and is a former Strikeforce women’s champion as well. She has won thirteen MMA bouts, and a silver medal in a world grappling competition. She has also won a silver medal in the FILA Grappling Championships. She began wrestling on the boys’ wrestling team in high school. In 2005, she won the high school women’s state championship and went on to win nationals at the World Team Trials in the 158 lb division. Tate debuted in mixed martial arts in 2007 at the one-night Hook n’ Shoot Women’s Grand Prix. Tate lost her Strikeforce title against Ronda Rousey in 2012 via submission in the first round due to an armbar. Mousey fully dislocated her elbow. Miesha Tate is ranked number 1 in hating Ronda Rousey. tate went on to face Rousey 2 more times in the UFC losing by TKO and submission.Tate has extensive knowledge of ground-based arts, including wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and submission defense and has solid striking. She is a formidable opponent.
Number Five-Gina Carano
Carano is one of the most recognizable female mixed-martial artists around. Despite never holding a major championship, and not having fought since 2009, she also only sports one loss in her entire career. Carano’s crossover success includes action figures, a stint on American Gladiators, and a Hollywood career as an action star, in films such as Haywire and Fast Six.
Number Four – Marloes Coenen
Coenen has fought the most of any of the women on this list, having amassed a record of twenty wins and five losses in her professional career. In 2010, she defeated Sarah Kaufman to become the second-ever Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, a title which she successfully defended as well. Since losing her title, she headlined the first all-female card for the Invicta Fighting Championship, and added another victory to her record. She has earned two gold medals in world jiu-jitsu, and one bronze in submission wrestling. Prior to bulking up a bit, she was Strikeforce’s Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Weighing in at 145 pounds, Coenen is professionally trained in Jiu Jistsu and fights for the Golden Glory fight club. She currently has a 21-6 record. She has won three and lost three matches by knockout. Her career as a pro MMA fighter began with eight consecutive wins.
Number Three – Cat Zingano
Cat Zingano is one of the best female MMA fighters of all time. She is undefeated and has knocked out four opponents during her career in the UFC. The fighter for Black House MMA weighs in at 135 pounds and stand 5’6” tall. She prefers to use Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves in her fights. On April 13th, 2013, Zingano became the first female MMA fighter to win by technical knockout. She is currently ranked the fifth best pound for pound MMA fighter and on January 17th, 2014, she officially became ranked the number one bantamweight female fighter in the UFC. At age 31, it is uncertain how much longer she will continue her career. Her body has taken a lot of abuse in the sport and she is now being forced to face younger, fresher opponents.
Number Two – Cristiane Justino
Cristiane Justino has the highest number of successful title defenses for a women’s MMA fighter in history. Known as Cyborg she is a Brazilian mixed martial artist and the former Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion, as well as the current Invicta FC World champion.Venancio was a national-level team handball player in Brazil before becoming interested in MMA. She made her United States MMA debut on July 26, 2008 against Shayna Baszler at EliteXC. Justino has also earned a BJJ Purple Belt under her jiu-jitsu instructor Cristiano Marcello. She was stripped of her strikeforce title over use of a banned substance, with controversy dogging her since. In spite of this her dominance has been staggering. With just one loss in her career, and now having signed with the UFC her influence on women’s MMA is likely to remain substantial.
Number One – Ronda Rousey
No surprise here. Ronda Rousey is undefeated in both amateur and professional MMA, winning all of her matches by armbar submission. She has both won, and defended, the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship, and has become the first woman fighter to officially sign with the UFC. She is also an Olympic medalist in judo, and has won gold medals in the Pan-American Judo Championship. In 2008, she became the first American to medal in women’s Judo at the Games. In her first MMA fight, she knocked out Hayden Munoz in the first 23 seconds of the fight. Since that match, she has won an additional eight straight. She is an undefeated, fourth degree black belt in Judo and is constantly belittling her opponents in the ring and on TV. She claims it is a way to make the sport more appealing to viewers. Obviously, it has not only done this, but it has also allowed her to get into her opponents’ heads and break their focus.