With the growing popularity of women’s MMA, it is important to recognize these women with a rankings system similar to the men. Between the UFC’s inclusion of a bantamweight division and the all-female promotion of Invicta FC, more and more women are being exposed to the casual and hardcore fans alike.

Every month, the MMA Corner’s Riley Kontek will compile the staff’s individual rankings from featherweight to atomweight to create the MMA Corner Women’s MMA Rankings.

Last month’s rankings are indicated by the number in parentheses next to the fighter’s name.

Featherweight Division (145 pounds)

  1. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (1)

    No. 2 - Marloes Coenen (R) will have her chance to claim No. 1 come July (Jayare Gallegos)

  2. Marloes Coenen (2)
  3. Ediane Gomes (3)
  4. Julia Budd (4)
  5. Germaine de Randamie (5)
  6. Hiroko Yamanaka (6)
  7. Romy Ruyssen (7)
  8. Elaina Maxwell (8)
  9. Veronica Rothenhausler (10)
  10. Tamikka Brents (11)
  11. Gabrielle Holloway (12)
  12. Peggy Morgan (13)
  13. Fiona Muxlow (14)
  14. Pannie Kianzad (15)
  15. Ashley Sanchez (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Yana Kunitskaya (9)

The featherweight division was quiet this month, and moving forward in June, the rankings likely will not shake up immensely. Top-ranked Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, whose return allowed her to once again grasp the division in her iron fists, fights second-ranked Marloes Coenen for the Invicta 145-pound title in July. This fight is a rematch from Strikeforce, where Cyborg knocked out the Dutch grappler. Also on Invicta FC 6, No. 3 and No. 4 collide when Brazil’s Ediane Gomes meets Canada’s Julia Budd. It looks like it could be a No.1 contender bout, with the winner taking on the Cyborg-Coenen winner for the belt. Young gun Veronica Rothenhausler looks to continue her path of destruction at Invicta FC 6 when she meets non-ranked Mollie Estes. The big two fighters on the list who may exit the rankings soon are Elaina Maxwell, who has not competed in a year, and Germaine de Randamie, who makes the move to bantamweight when she fights Julie Kedzie at UFC on Fox 8. All in all, the rankings possess a lot of up-and-coming 145ers who are young in their career and looking to jockey for position in the increasingly crowded featherweight division.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)

  1. Ronda Rousey (1)

    No. 3 - Sara McMann will have to wait even longer for a title shot with No. 1 contender Cat Zingano on the shelf (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Cat Zingano (2)
  3. Sara McMann (3)
  4. Miesha Tate (4)
  5. Sarah Kaufman (5)
  6. Alexis Davis (6)
  7. Liz Carmouche (7)
  8. Shayna Baszler (8)
  9. Sarah D’Alelio (9)
  10. Leslie Smith (10)
  11. Amanda Nunes (11)
  12. Lauren Taylor (12)
  13. Rin Nakai (14)
  14. Hitomi Akano (13)
  15. Jessica Andrade (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: none

As with the featherweight division, the bantamweight division stayed relatively quiet in May, though Japanese star Rin Nakai made a slight move up the rankings with her rear-naked choke victory of game flyweight Brenda Gonzales. Gonzales fought a weight class up at the Pancrase event in the non-title bout and put her undefeated record on the line against the bigger, stronger Nakai. Of course, UFC champion Ronda Rousey remains atop the division and is currently awaiting Miesha Tate, who she will fight after the taping of The Ultimate Fighter 18 concludes. Alexis Davis makes her UFC debut in June, when she meets Rosi Sexton, who is currently ranked at flyweight but makes the move to 135 pounds at UFC 161 in Winnipeg. The aforementioned Invicta FC 6 event will play host to a couple of ranked bantamweight fighters, as Sarah D’Alelio squares off with Lauren Taylor. Two ladies who are set to drop out of the rankings are Leslie Smith and Jessica Andrade, both of whom head to flyweight. Smith will meet Jennifer Maia for No.1 contendership under the Invicta banner and Andrade already has three flyweight bouts scheduled for the next three months (vs. Kalindra Faria, Ana Maria and Carina Damm). Things are about to get very interesting in the most popular of the female divisions.

Flyweight Division (125 pounds)

  1. Barb Honchak (1)

    No. 3 - Jessica Eye returns to action on May 31 (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Vanessa Porto (2)
  3. Jessica Eye (3)
  4. Rosi Sexton (4)
  5. Jennifer Maia (5)
  6. Michelle Ould (6)
  7. Tara LaRosa (7)
  8. Tonya Evinger (8)
  9. Zoila Gurgel (9)
  10. Munah Holland (10)
  11. Aisling Daly (11)
  12. Marianna Kheyfets (12)
  13. Julia Berezikova (13)
  14. Kalindra Faria (15)
  15. Brenda Gonzales (14)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: none

The queen of Invicta, Barb Honchak, is still atop the rankings following her title victory over second-ranked Vanessa Porto. Honchak now awaits her next opponent. That will be decided in July, when Leslie Smith drops to 125 pounds to take on Jennifer Maia. Jessica Eye looks to climb into the top two this weekend when she meets Carina Damm at the NAAFS event. The Bellator veteran is coming off a back injury and looks to warm herself up before jumping back into the deep end. Munah Holland makes her return at Ring of Combat when she faces Camila Lima. Holland has used uncanny power in her hands to climb her way up the 125-pound ladder. Kalindra Faria will welcome Jessica Andrade to the division and look to continue the success she found in May when she tapped out Dayse Nascimento. The two Brazilians are among the top prospects coming out of the fight-crazy country. Brenda Gonzales had a failed attempt in fighting Rin Nakai at bantamweight, but has still hangs on to the 15th spot of the flyweight rankings. As for Rosi Sexton, she will vacate the weight class in June when she enters the 135-pound UFC division and fights Alexis Davis at UFC 161. Big things will happen in the rankings during the month of June, that much is certain.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)

  1. Jessica Aguilar (1)

    No. 3 - Carla Esparza will make her first title defense in July (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

  2. Megumi Fujii (2)
  3. Carla Esparza (3)
  4. Ayaka Hamasaki (4)
  5. Joanne Calderwood (5)
  6. Katja Kankaanpaa (6)
  7. Felice Herrig (7)
  8. Claudia Gadelha (10)
  9. Bec Hyatt (9)
  10. Rose Namajunas (11)
  11. Mei Yamaguchi (12)
  12. Tecia Torres (13)
  13. Yuka Tsuji (14)
  14. Mizuki Inoue (15)
  15. Stephanie Eggink (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Seo Hee Ham (8)

The strawweight division may have experienced the biggest shakeup of the month in terms of fighter rankings. Notably absent is the formerly No.8 Seo Hee Ham, who dropped to atomweight and won the Jewels title off of Naho Sugiyama. Ham now finds a cozy home in that weight class. Claudia Gadelha jumped a few spots with her win over Herica Tiburcio in Brazil. She now looks to secure a title shot with Invicta, an honor she had held not long ago before bowing out with an injury. She first has the task of meeting fifth-ranked Joanne Calderwood, a striking monster, at Invicta FC 6. Mei Yamaguchi also grabbed a victory this month with her win over non-ranked Seo Ye Jung at the Jewels event. Carla Esparza puts her gold on the line at Invicta FC 6 against Ayaka Hamasaki in what looks to be an extremely competitive match-up. A win by either lady would likely put them in contention for the No.1 ranking in this poll. Two sets of ranked opponents will also meet at Invicta, with Bec Hyatt clashing with Mizuki Inoue and Rose Namajunas squaring off against fellow prospect Tecia Torres. If you haven’t been watching the 115-pound division, you are missing out on quality fights. Who knows what the divisional landscape will look like in the coming months, but it’s obvious the scenery will change in a major way.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)

  1. Michelle Waterson (1)

    No. 3 - Seo Hee Ham (R) shook up the atomweight ranks by defeating Naho Sugiyama (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

  2. Jessica Penne (2)
  3. Seo Hee Ham (NR)
  4. Lisa Ellis (3)
  5. Simona Soukupova (5)
  6. Lacey Schuckman (6)
  7. Naho Sugiyama (4)
  8. Alex Chambers (7)
  9. Kikuyo Ishikawa (8)
  10. Cassie Rodish (9)
  11. Jodie Esquibel (10)
  12. Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc (11)
  13. Stephanie Frausto (12)
  14. Amy Davis (13)
  15. Sadae Numata (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Yasuko Tamada (14), Diana Rael (15)

In the blink of an eye, the atomweight division is a whole new landscape than it was in May, thanks to Seo Hee Ham. The South Korean dropped from strawweight to defeat the formerly third-ranked Naho Sugiyama at the Jewels event. That win put her at No. 3 and into Invicta title talks in the minds of many WMMA fans. Sugiyama’s recent struggles bump her down in the rankings. Previous to her loss against No.2 Jessica Penne, she was the top-ranked 105er. But with losses to Penne, Ham and Celine Haga, she now must claw her way back up after falling to to No. 7 in an increasingly crowded division. Second-ranked Penne looks to reclaim her Invicta title as soon as possible, but before that happens, she must battle the scrappy Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc at Invicta FC 6. Penne’s submission loss in April to Michelle Waterson was a shock, so we’ll see how she responds to adversity. Lacey Schuckman and Amy Davis look to move up the rankings when they fight in separate bouts at Sparta Combat League in June. Schuckman takes on newcomer Jody Lynn Reicher and Davis battles veteran Darla Harris. With the constant changes we see at 105 pounds, the division looks to be in a constant state of flux.

Top Photo: Michelle Waterson (Esther Lin/Invicta FC)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.