's WMMA Pound-for-Pound Top 10

By Staff Mar 7, 2016

The UFC women’s bantamweight championship changed hands again on March 5, and with that change comes another shift in the women’s MMA pound-for-pound rankings.

New titleholder Miesha Tate bounds six spots up the rankings to the No. 2 position after strangling Holly Holm to take the 135-pound strap at UFC 196. Holm, who ascended the rankings in November with her stunning upset of Ronda Rousey, drops one place to No. 3 following the first defeat of her MMA career. Meanwhile, former top ranker Rousey continues to sink as her return remains undetermined; circumstances have forced “Rowdy” down to the No. 4 spot despite her two head-to-head wins over Tate.

Inactivity has rendered several competitors ineligible for inclusion on the list since our last update: former No. 7 Cat Zingano, No. 9 Barb Honchak and No. 10 Carla Esparza have all been removed after one year out of action with no upcoming fights scheduled. Rounding out the bottom of the updated top 10 are new arrivals Ayaka Hamasaki, Amanda Nunes and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

Related: Sherdog Divisional Rankings

1. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (11-0)

Jedrzejczyk put on another striking clinic at UFC 193, this time pushing back after early resistance from underdog challenger Valerie Letourneau. The strawweight ace took a few licks from Letourneau before taking charge by doing what Jedrzejczyk does best: dismantling her foes with technical striking, including laser-beam punches and stinging low kicks. It was the second successful defense for “Joanna Champion” since claiming the belt from Carla Esparza in March 2015, with a three-round mauling of Jessica Penne in between. Next up is a July 8 rematch with Claudia Gadelha, who was dealt her first and only loss by Jedrzejczyk in a narrow split decision.

2. Miesha Tate (18-5)

It took two attempts and the better part of three years inside the Octagon, but Tate captured UFC gold on March 5 by choking out Holly Holm in Las Vegas. Since losing her second meeting with Ronda Rousey in 2013, “Cupcake” has rattled off five straight wins against the likes of Sara McMann and Jessica Eye. A third bout between Tate and Rousey now seems inevitable, though it is unclear how quickly that rematch will materialize.

3. Holly Holm (10-1)

Holm’s time atop the UFC women’s bantamweight division proved brief. Just four months after her shocking knockout of Ronda Rousey, it was Holm on the receiving end of an upset at UFC 196. “The Preacher’s Daughter” seemed to be coasting to a decision against Miesha Tate when, in the fifth round, Tate took down the champ and choked her unconscious. The loss was Holm’s first in MMA after the former boxing champion began her cage-fighting career with 10 straight wins, including seven by way of stoppage.

4. Ronda Rousey (12-1)

Rousey’s reign as UFC bantamweight champ and pound-for-pound queen came to a screeching halt on Nov. 15 in Melbourne, Australia, where the judoka-turned-Hollywood star was dismantled by former boxing champion Holly Holm in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. The aggression which had become Rousey’s trademark ultimately led to her downfall, as she repeatedly ran into Holm’s left hand before being knocked out cold by a head kick early in round two. Rousey is expected to return this year, though exactly when and against whom remains a mystery.

5. Cristiane Justino (15-1, 1 NC)

“Cyborg” continues to steamroll all opponents placed before her inside the cage. The Brazilian powerhouse’s latest victim was Daria Ibragimova, whose Jan. 16 bid for the Invicta Fighting Championships featherweight title concluded on the end of Justino punches 4:58 into the first round. Justino, who is unbeaten in 16 fights over the past 10 years, was once on her way down to 140 pounds as a test run for a potential 135-pound bout with Ronda Rousey. However, with Rousey suffering her first loss at the hands of Holly Holm, the future of that long-discussed super fight seems uncertain. In the meantime, Justino has begun angling for a fight on the UFC’s first show in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil.

6. Claudia Gadelha (13-1)

The first defeat of Gadelha’s MMA career -- a razor-thin split decision defeat to Joanna Jedrzejczyk -- seems only to have motivated the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Gadelha was relentless in her Aug. 1 bout with Jessica Aguilar, beating and bloodying the former World Series of Fighting titlist for three rounds en route to a unanimous decision. With the win, Gadelha secured the right to rematch Jedrzejczyk in July; this time, the Polish fighter’s UFC strawweight belt will be on the line.

7. Jessica Aguilar (19-5)

Aguilar went unbeaten for nearly five years, racking up 10 straight wins over the likes of Carla Esparza and Megumi Fujii (twice). She captured the World Series of Fighting strawweight title and was, until just recently, ranked at the top of the 115-pound division. The American Top Team fighter’s streak ended in her UFC debut on Aug. 1, when she ran up against top contender Claudia Gadelha at UFC 190. Aguilar had little answer for Gadelha’s quick hands and powerful takedowns; nonetheless, “Jag” hung tough until the end and suffered a unanimous decision defeat. Aguilar will be back in the cage at UFC 197 on April 23, when she meets Juliana Lima.

8. Ayaka Hamasaki (12-1)

Hamasaki became the first Japanese fighter to win a major North American MMA title when she wrested the Invicta atomweight belt from Herica Tiburcio in July 2015. A pupil of WMMA pioneer Megumi Fujii, Hamasaki’s grappling skills have enabled her to prevail in two of her three stateside appearances, with her only loss coming to current UFC contender Claudia Gadelha. The 33-year-old will defend her title for the first time when she meets once-beaten challenger Amber Brown at Invicta 16.

9. Amanda Nunes (12-4)

True to her name, Brazil’s “Lioness” showcased her ferocity in an impressive March 5 outing against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 196. Takedowns and ground-and-pound were the order of the day as Nunes slowed down “Bullet” to earn a three-round unanimous decision. Nunes has already begun angling for a crack at the UFC women’s bantamweight belt, though she may have to wait for the three-woman round robin atop the division to sort itself out.

10. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (8-0)

Polish prospect Kowalkiewicz came to the UFC with an unbeaten record and plenty of expectations, and she did not disappoint in her Octagon debut. The 30-year-old striker outworked highly touted Randa Markos in their December meeting, capturing her third straight win via decision. While brief, Kowalkiewicz’s record includes wins against Invicta fighter Mizuki Inoue and Brazil’s Kalindra Faria.


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