Ranking the Top-10 Female Fights in UFC
There was a time where Women's MMA was rare, where women were rarely highlighted, and a brief moment where Dana White said women would NEVER fight in the UFC. All the changed when he met "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey- the woman who would change the game forever. Now, not only do women compete in the UFC, there's 4 division in total, and we've seen some of the best talent walking on this planet.
With four championships held by three women today, The Scrap wanted to take a look at all the female fights in the UFC and rank them based off their importance to the sport and the excitement it generated.
Hit the right arrow to see the list of the top-10 female fights in UFC history.
10. Lucie Pudilova vs Irene Aldana (UFC 228)
Unlike the other fights on this card, the stakes were not very high for this one. Lucie Pudilova vs Irene Aldana was not even on the PPV portion of the UFC 228 card and instead took place on the UFC Fight Pass prelims.
Both fighters were relentless, going forward for nearly the entire fifteen minutes. It was a brawler's dream, with both women bloodied and still swinging for the chin. Irene Aldana edged out the decision, but both fighters stole the show with the Fight of the Night winning performance.
9. Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche (UFC 157) - UFC Bantamweight Championship
This fight makes the list for several reasons, few of them having much to do with the actual in-cage action. This fight is more notable for the facts surrounding the bout. It was the first female mixed martial arts fight in UFC history, and as such, the first main event as well. It marked the beginning of an era, and it could perhaps be viewed as an experiment.
What if the PPV would have been a flop? What if the fight would have been a dud? One true thing is that Liz Carmouche nearly played the spoiler, at least for Rousey. Carmouche took Rousey’s back at one point during the fight and attempted to find a crank or a choke, but it wasn't to be. Rousey fought her way out of the precarious position, and only moments later, one of the greatest runs in WMMA history truly began.
8. Amanda Nunes vs Cris Cyborg (UFC 232) - UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship
Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg was one of those fights that resulted in a culture change for the entire sport, especially women’s MMA. Cyborg was the baddest dog in the yard and had been for a very long time. Her trail of victims was only outsized by her list of potential victims, who instead thought better of a match-up with the queen of the cage.
Nunes was a vaunted champion in her own right, but it could be argued that she had not yet attained the mystique that she enjoys today. Despite being an underdog, it took Nunes just 51 seconds to conquer what was thought to be a previously unvanquishable foe. With that win, Nunes moved into the top spot as the most celebrated female mixed martial artist of all time.
Cyborg tumbled, losing her top spot and her aura of invincibility along with it. Since the fight, we have seen Nunes continue her trail of destruction while Cyborg’s image has taken a blow.
7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Jessica Penne (UFC Fight Night 69) - UFC Strawweight Championship
Perhaps no other fight better illustrates the violence that Joanna Jedrzejczyk was capable of during her run as champion. Jessica Penne was a solid 12-2 and a former Invicta Champion. But what happened to her on June 20, 2015, will always live in infamy. It was the night that all doubters were finally forced to realize that Jedrzejczyk was just better than everybody else, and it wasn’t even close. The fight was never competitive, as Jedrzerczyk continually pressured Penne against the fence, all the while bashing her with every limb on her person.
Penne could only cover up as Joanna “Champion” unleashed nearly four rounds of a non-stop, one-sided massacre before the referee mercifully saved Penne from further destruction. Penne was never the same and would require reconstructive surgery before returning to the cage. It was just the beginning for Jedrzejczyk. While it is not her greatest win, it is hard to say that she never displayed her skill in a more powerful way than she did against Jessica Penne.
6. Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade (UFC 237) - Strawweight Championship
When Rose Namajunas won the Strawweight Championship from Joanna Jedrezejyzk, so began the era of a kinder, gentler, UFC Champion. Namajunas won the belt as a significant underdog, with minimal experience, in what was considered a significant upset. Her post-fight speeches were filled with calls for unity, peace, and understanding as opposed to the self-promotion that we are used to seeing.
Jessica Andrade was a solid but unspectacular Strawweight contender. She’d been outpointed in a previous title fight with Jedrzejyzk and held losses to several of the division elite. Things were not going her way in the early rounds of the fight; she was outboxed, outperformed, and controlled almost entirely. Namajunas contained her power and seemed clear on her way to a victory. But Andrade, likely knowing she was well behind in the fight, pulled an ace from her sleeve.
When the opportunity arose, with the two clinched against the fence, Andrade lifted Namajunas into the sky and brought her crashing down to the mat. It was a fight ender, it sent shudders through the arena, and it left fans and fighters questioning its legality. When the smoke cleared, Andrade was champion, and Rose Namajunas was the victim of one of the more impressive knockouts in UFC history.
5. Miesha Tate vs Holly Holm (UFC 196) - Bantamweight Championship
Holly Holm has had a great combat sports career. She was a successful boxer and multiple time champion, a kickboxer, and the artist behind one of the greatest upsets in sports history. But it will likely be this fight, her only attempt at defending the Bantamweight Championship, that keeps her from truly being remembered as an all-time great mixed martial artist. Coming off her win over Ronda Rousey, Holm had the chance to defend her championship against Miesha Tate.
Tate was a force at the time, a highly accomplished competitor, and arguably the second most recognizable female fighter in the UFC. Had Holly Holm followed the Rousey win with a win over Tate, she would have reached a level that she never quite managed to achieve. Instead, in a fight where Holm seemed comfortably ahead heading towards the judges, Tate sank in a rear-naked choke in the fifth round, putting The Preacher's Daughter to sleep after a brief struggle.
4. Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk 1 (UFC 217) - UFC Strawweight Championship
This fight was short and relatively one-sided, and while it didn't affect the Richter scale quite like Holm/Rousey, it was arguably more of an upset. Joanna Jedrzejczyk had dominated the Women’s Strawweight division, virtually since its inception. She was not a fighter that had apparent gaps in her game, her defensive grappling was tremendous, and her striking was top notch.
Rose Namajunas was a prospect, but hardly one that seemed worthy of a chance at the Strawweight queen. She was only one fight removed from a loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz and was just 6-3 in her short career, one of those losses being a decisive loss to former division champion, Carla Esparza. If Rose Namajunas was expected to lose, she seemed to miss the memo. Namajunas took advantage of her opportunity and stopped Joanna “Champion” with strikes in the very first round. Not only did she topple the queen, but she did it by giving her a dose of her own medicine.
With the win, the Rose Namajunas era began, and the Jedrzejczyk era ended as violently as it ever was at its peak.
3. Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate 2 (UFC 168) - Bantamweight Championship
2. Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko 1 (UFC 196)
Believe it or not, a time existed when Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko were not dominant UFC champions. During this time, they fought and what they gave us was one of the better back and forth fights you will see. While it was before the championships were in play, it was clear that both fighters were destined for big things as they filled a spot on the UFC 196 main card.
They went back and forth for three rounds, and while Nunes emerged the victor, it was competitive enough to justify a rematch just over a year later. Today, both of these fighters reign supreme over their divisions, seemingly with no legitimate threats in-sight. In Nunes case, this applies to two separate divisions. With all of that in mind, it is fascinating watching this fight now, knowing what they are today.
1. Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm (UFC 193) - UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship
Ronda Rousey, love her or hate her, is a pioneer of Women’s MMA. Of course, some came before her, but none had a more significant impact on the sport. Holly Holm was a master boxer, a multiple-time World Champion, but unfortunately, boxing did not appreciate her. So despite her dominance, she was a relatively unknown fighter heading into what would be the biggest fight of her career. And on that night she would engineer one of the greatest upsets in modern combat sports history.
Rousey was 12-0 heading into UFC 193, only one of her fights had ever gone past the first round, and she had finished every single opponent via KO or submission. She was also a media phenom, earning movie roles and mainstream popularity along with appearances on major late-night TV shows and more. She was the biggest star in the UFC at the time and the biggest that the sport had seen up to that point. Holly Holm was not quite so heralded. Though she was 9-0 in MMA, she was taking a massive step up in competition when she faced Rousey. It must also be considered that Holm, a boxer, was not exactly heading into a good matchup against a dominant grappler. But there's a reason these fights don't take place on paper.
At UFC 193, in front of a record 56,000+ fans, Rousey entered the cage as a -1650 favorite with her typical bad attitude, with the sound of Joan Jett screaming about her reputation in the background. Holm was already standing across the cage from her, moments away from history. Holm was the victor, and Rousey lay bloodied, battered, and defeated in the center of the cage, the victim of a laser-accurate head kick, courtesy of The Preacher's Daughter.
It wasn’t competitive, but it signaled the end of an era, and because of that it’s hard to say that any MMA fight before or after has ever been as significant.