Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full combat sport that involves striking, grappling, and sometimes ground fighting has been embraced by the female gender.
The first official female MMA fight took place in the United States on March 28, 1997. Since then, women have come and gone in the sport and established their dominance, achieving impressive feats.
In this article, we have selected and ranked the top-15 greatest female MMA fighters ever to grace the sport, with considerations on the UFC and other best MMA promotions.
The World’s Best Female MMA Fighters Of All Time
15. Jessica Andrade
Brazilian mixed martial artist who currently fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship comes 15th on the list. She is a one-time title holder of the UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion belt. So far, in the nine years of her career, she’s fought a total of 28 fights, winning 20 of them, the majority by both knockout and submission. She places 2nd in the UFC women’s Strawweight rankings and 6th in the UFC women’s pound-for-pound rankings. Jessica Andrade is one phenomenal force to reckon with in the octagon.
14. Julianna Pena
Julianna Pena is one of the best in the mixed martial arts scene. She had made her debut in 2009 and recorded four straight victories before her first professional loss. Pena was the first female MMA fighter to win “The Ultimate Fight” and a one time winner of “Performance of the Night.” Throughout her career, she’s fought a total of 12 fights and won 9. MMA stats of 2020 placed her 4th in the UFC women’s Bantamweight rankings and 14th in the women pound-for-pound rankings. She is currently a significant contender in the UFC women’s flyweight event.
13. Cat Zingano
Zingano is an American mixed martial artist and one of the best in the cage. She was the first female to record victory in a UFC fight by technical knockout. Also, the first woman to be awarded the UFC “Fight of the Night” award. She fought a total of 14 combats, winning 10, 5 of which were by knockouts. During her exit from the UFC, she placed 7th in the UFC Bantamweight rankings. Currently, she plies her MMA career with Bellator MMA.
12. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Of Polish descent, she joined the UFC party after a brief stint at her country based KSW promotion. She recorded a victory in her UFC debut fight and the following two to set up a title shot fight with former champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk which she lost. The loss, however, didn’t deter her from the fighting cage. She went on recording ambivalent scores of both victories and losses in her ensuing fights. The former women’s KSW flyweight champion fought a total of 18 combats and won 12.
11. Rose Namajunas
After a successful amateur career in which she recorded no loss, Namajunas made her professional MMA debut at Invicta FC, which saw her emerged victoriously. She lost the UFC Strawweight Championship crown against Carla Esparza in 2014.
After a series of defeats, her career took a turn for uplifted progress in 2017 when she pulled one memorable upset in the UFC history by defeating the undefeated champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk to become the new UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion. She successfully defended the title in a rematch against Jędrzejczyk.
Although she lost the title in May 2019, she won in the rematch on July 12, 2020. Rose Namajunas fought a total of 14 career fights and won 10. The American currently ranks No.1 in the UFC women’s strawweight rankings and No.4 in the UFC women’s pound-for-pound rankings.
10. Vanessa Porto
Of Brazilian descent, Vanessa Porto majorly competes in the Invicta Fighting Championship flyweight division and has carved a fearsome reputation in the cage. In the early stages of her career, she initially fought for a Brazilian promotion but debuted in the Invicta Championship in 2012. Porto has fought a total of 30 fights and won 22 of them mostly by submission. She currently ranks No.2 in the 125-pound female MMA fighters globally.
9. Holly Holm
Holly Holm is the first and only fighter with a world boxing title and UFC title. Before emerging in the MMA scene, she had enjoyed a notable boxing career, becoming boxing world champion several times and successfully defending the championship titles. Her intrigues in the boxing ring were impressive; she was deemed the greatest female professional boxer of all time by BoxRec.
Holly Holm fought with the Jackson Wink MMA Academy in the MMA scene and recorded one of the sports biggest upsets when she defeated Ronda Rousey in her first loss in the sports and emerged bantamweight title champion. A record of 56,215 people in Melbourne witnessed that great combat. She’s fought 18 professional MMA combats and won 13 of them, mostly by knockouts. She placed No.2 in the UFC women’s bantamweight rankings.
8. Claudia Gadelha
The Brazilian currently fights in the women’s strawweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and placed 6th in its rankings. The 2013 Fan Favorite Fighter of the Year has fought a total of 22 fights and won 18 of them, winning mostly by decisions. She is the youngest BJJ black belt holder.
7. Marloes Coenen
Coenen made her MMA debut in 2000 and recorded eight straight victories and won the 2000 ReMix World Cup. The win established her presence in the MMA sports as she became the first-ever female MMA champion. 2010 saw her crowned the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, although she lost the title the following year. She’s fought a total of 31 MMA combats and won 23 of them losing eight. She won mostly by submission.
6. Valentina Shevchenko
The Kyrgyzstani-born mixed martial artist competes in the women’s flyweight division of the UFC and is the present champion. Between 2003 and 2015, she won more than 50 match combats, both amateur and professionals. She has a total of eight gold medals to her name in the IFMA World Championship. Shevchenko fought a total of 22 matches in MMA and won 19, the majority by submission. She is widely considered as one of the best female MMA fighters globally and ranks 3rd in the UFC women’s pound-for-pound rankings.
5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Jedrezjczyk is a Polish mixed martial artist who currently competes in the flyweight and strawweight female division. She is a former UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion. She first stormed the MMA back in 2012 when she won her first fight against Sylwia Juskiewicz and followed it up with several victories, including the memorable upset against then No.1 WMMA flyweight fighter Julia Berezikova.
Jedrzejczyk fought in a total of 20 MMA combats and won 16 of them. She is the first Polish UFC Champion as well as the first female European UFC Champion. Jedrzejczyk was named the Female Fighter of the Year in 2015.
4. Jennifer Maia
Jennifer Maia’s first four MMA fights were memorable. She won in style, defeating her opponents in the very first round, mostly by submission. That remarkable entrance into MMA solidified her presence in the sports. However, Vanessa Porto was handed her first defeat in MMA in 2011. She pounded her revenge six years later, defeating Porto by unanimous decision to be crowned interim Invicta FC Flyweight Champion. Maia defended the title in the following two years. She currently ranks 6th in the UFC women’s flyweight rankings.
3. Cristiane Justino
Signed to Bellato MMA, she is the current Bellator Women’s Featherweight World Champion. She became a famous MMA fighter when she won Strikeforce title defeating Gina Carano in the first round by technical knockout. Justino successfully defended the title for two years until an incident of doping after she tested positive for an anabolic steroid. She was sent off the fighting cage for a year, along with a $2,500 fine.
Justino returned in 2013 and became the first Invicta FC featherweight champion. She is the only MMA fighter to have won World Championship title across four MMA promotions.
2. Ronda Rousey
The first UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and the last Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion had won her first MMA fight in just 23 seconds. How impressive! She fought in 14 professional MMA combats and won 12, mostly by submission. Rousey holds the record for most title defense by a woman in UFC and the first female fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. She is arguably a significant contender for the title of the greatest (G.O.A.T.).
1. Amanda Nunes
Brazil’s Amanda Nunes is a dominating name in the MMA scene. Currently signed to the UFC, Nunes is ultimately top on the list of the best female MMA fighters of all-time. Nunes is the current champion of the women’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions. She is the first woman to hold two division titles in the UFC and the first to defend two titles while holding on to them. Nunes fought in 24 professional MMA combats and won 20. She holds the No.1 spot in the UFC women’s pound-for-pound rankings.
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