Not that long ago, a list like this wouldn't have been possible because UFC president, Dana White, often said women would never fight in the UFC. How times have changed. Now, not only are women fighting inside the octogan, their fights often out shine the men, leading to a dramatic increase in the demand and enthusiasm for women's MMA. UFC 193, headlined by MMA's most electrifying woman, Ronda Rousey, is expected to draw 70,000 fans to the Etihad Stadium - destroying the UFC's previous attendance record.
But women's mma will only continue to thrive so long as its pool of talent remains deep. Fortunately for the UFC, there are plenty of high quality female fighters eager to show they're as skilled, ferocious, and exciting as the men. Here's the list of the top 5 women in the UFC today.
1) "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey (12-0, 3 KOs, 9 Submissions)
There can be no doubt that Ronda Rousey is the best female fighter in the UFC. She has been dominant in a way no other fighter in the sport has. She is Mike Tyson, Fedor Emelianenko, and Anderson Silva rolled into one: as ferocious and intimidating as Tyson, dominant like Emelianenko in his prime, and the only fighter other than Silva that performs such incredible feats that it makes you ask whether you were watching a real fight or a John Woo choreography.
Rousey makes the impossible happen, again and again. At UFC 193, she'll be facing Holly Holm, a seasoned professional boxer still green in mma. Rousey has much to lose. Few think Holm has been given the time to mature in the sport, so despite her many accolades in boxing, the odds are heavily stacked against her. Rousey needs to win to keep her spot on this list, and anything short of total dominance will hurt her stock. Doesn't sound fair does it? It isn't, but having that high bar, and then jumping over it has been Rousey's modus operandi for years. That's the price of immortality.
2) Joanna Jedrzejczyk (10-0, 4 KOs, 1 Submission)
Pronouncing her name correctly on the first attempt is damn near impossible. So is beating her. Jedrzejczyk, the 28-year-old Polish fighter, doesn't have the same easy-flowing alliteration in her name, or a cool nom de guerre that helps market Rowdy Ronda Rousey. Jedrzejczyk doesn't have the same looks or attitude either, which is why casual fans don't realize that she's the second best female fighter in the UFC, and has some of the best striking in the game (for men and women). Simply put, Jedrzejczyk is a savage striker.
Exhibit 1: The mauling of Sarah Esparza.
Exhibit 2: The slaughter of Jessica Penne.
Rousey's armbar is merciful in a way. The worse that can happen is she break an arm and tears some tendons. Jedrzejczyk's strikes can break bone, her kicks to the body cause internal hemorrhaging, and strikes to the head a lifetime of head trauma. She fights on the undercard of UFC 193 against Valerie Letourneau. Despite Rousey's top billing on the card and her dominance in the octogan, I think Rousey has a greater chance of losing on fight night than Jedrzejczyk. Jedrzejczyk is that good.
3) Miesha "Cupcake" Tate (17-5, 3 KOs, 6 Submissions)
The MMA world may be on the verge of losing one of its best fighters. Tate has been very vocal in recent weeks about the unfair treatment she's received from the UFC. Tate seems to be primarily upset at two things: (1) getting paid a tiny fraction of what Ronda Rousey makes and (2) being passed up for a title shot by someone much farther down in the rankings. If she can't find a way to mend her relationship with Dana White and the UFC, Tate may decide to retire. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
In the last six years, Tate has lost to only two people, Rousey and another top 5 fighter, Cat Zingano. Tate has pushed Rousey like no one has been able to do and consistency impresses against top level talent.
4) Cat "Alpha" Zingano (9-1, 5 KOs, 3 Submissions)
Out of the cage now over 7 months, it's easy for some to forget that there was a time when Cat Zingano was the best hope to find a real challenge for the seemingly unstoppable and unflappable, Ronda Rousey. Back then, Zingano was riding a 6 fight stoppage streak (5 by KO, 1 by submission). She was undefeated walking into the Octagon against Rousey, but was submitted so quickly that fans were able to upload the entire fight on Instagram:
#Repost @ufc_promos with @repostapp. ・・・ #UFC193 Rousey vs. Holm 8 Day's Away. At #UFC184 Ronda Rousey defeated Cat Zingano via Submission (Straight Armbar) - 14 Seconds of Round 1. #RondaRousey #Ronda #Rousey #ArmBarQueen #ufc #mma #fight #UFCMelbourne #wmma #Rowdy #ArmBarNation #Nov14th #AndSTILL #Undefeated #Champion #Australia #RouseyVSHolm #RowdyArmy
Zingano walked into that fight not just against one of the best fighters in the sport, however, she also was fighting lingering injuries from her battle with Amanda Nunes and the heartbreak of her husband's suicide. Zingano now says she's ready to back to the UFC. A rested and dedicated Zingano will be a serious force to be reckoned with.
5) Claudia Gadelha (13-1, 2 KOs, 6 Submissions)
Training with the revered Brazilian team Nova União (home to the best Brazilian fighter in UFC, Jose Aldo), Gadelha has become an undeniable top talent in the UFC. She is the youngest black belt in Nova União's history, and it shows. Her ground game is vicious and her transitions from striking to takedowns, even better. Her only loss came against Jedrzejczyk, via a controversial split decision that many well respected media outlets disagreed with. After the loss, she came back to silence the critics that dared to say or think that Jessica Aguilar deserved the #1 ranking in her division. Gadelha wants nothing more than a rematch with Jedrzejczyk, and for the love of the sport, the UFC should give it to her.
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.