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 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. Cris “Cyborg” Justino (1)

    Yamanaka (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

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

We must tip our caps to the career of a women’s MMA pioneer, as Japan’s Hiroko Yamanaka decided to hang up her gloves in July. The Japanese star had gone 0-2 (1 NC) in her final three bouts against ranked fighters in Cris Cyborg, Germaine de Randamie and Ediane Gomes. Making her debut in the rankings is Ashlee Evans-Smith, a successful amateur fighter that is 1-0 in pro competition. She will take on Fallon Fox in the CFA women’s bantamweight tournament finals in October. Other than that, it was a quiet month for the 145ers. A bout between 12th-ranked Pannie Kianzad and Milana Dudieva fell through and will be rescheduled for this month at Pro FC 50. Plus, Peggy Morgan will make her drop to 135 pounds to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 18, which starts Sept. 4 on Fox Sports 1.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)

  1. Ronda Rousey (1)

    Akano (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  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. Lauren Taylor (9)
  10. Sarah D’Alelio (10)
  11. Germaine de Randamie (11)
  12. Amanda Nunes (12)
  13. Rin Nakai (13)
  14. Miriam Nakamoto (NR)
  15. Jessica Andrade (15) /Holly Holm (NR) (tie)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Hitomi Akano (14)

As with the featherweight division, the bantamweight class lost a Japanese trailblazer to retirement when Hitomi Akano announced that she was hanging up her gloves. Akano decided to give up the fight game after losses to Sara McMann and Alexis Davis in her last two outings. She was a longtime staple of the 135-pound rankings and was known for her superior submission ability. McMann and Sarah Kaufman were set to face off at UFC Fight Night 27, but a medical issue kept McMann from competing, so Kaufman was rescheduled for UFC 166 against the debuting Jessica Eye in October. Amanda Nunes scored a win over Sheila Gaff to solidify her ranking, as she dominated the German with a well-rounded attack. Jessica Andrade will look to hold steady as she takes on Rosi Sexton at UFC Fight Night in Manchester. Rin Nakai will make her return against Tara LaRosa in Pancrase next month. So, it looks like the bantamweight rankings will see some significant changes in the near future.

Flyweight Division (125 pounds)

  1. Barb Honchak (1)

    Eye is heading to the UFC and 135 pounds (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

The flyweight division has stayed steady since last month, as none of the top 15 have switched places. Even more than that, not many of them have fights on their plate at this moment. Fourth-ranked Leslie Smith is currently the top contender to Barb Honchak’s Invicta flyweight championship. The two will meet in the near future, but Invicta is yet to announce its next show. Workhorse and constantly climbing Kalindra Faria will continue her brutal gauntlet of a schedule when she meets Juliana Aguiar in the flyweight tournament finals of MMA Super Heroes in September. Faria tapped out Carina Damm in July to make the finals and has already fought four times in 2013, running a 4-0 record (all finishes) in that time span.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)

  1. Jessica Aguilar (1)

    Herrig (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

  2. Megumi Fujii (2)
  3. Carla Esparza (3)
  4. Claudia Gadelha (4)
  5. Joanne Calderwood (5)
  6. Ayaka Hamasaki (6)
  7. Katja Kankaanpaa (7)
  8. Tecia Torres (8)
  9. Mizuki Inoue (9)
  10. Felice Herrig (10)
  11. Bec Hyatt (11)
  12. Rose Namajunas (12)
  13. Stephanie Eggink (13)
  14. Yuka Tsuji (15)
  15. Mei Yamaguchi (14)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: None

Like the flyweight division, the strawweight division remained very quiet last month. Felice Herrig and Jessica Aguilar were both released from their Bellator contracts and became free agents. Herrig inked on the dotted line with Invicta FC, but Aguilar’s next move is unknown. The division has been one of the busiest for Invicta FC, so when the promotion does announce its next show, expect things to shape up greatly. Carla Esparza will have to face top contender Claudia Gadelha with her title on the line.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)

  1. Michelle Waterson (1)

    Numata (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

  2. Jessica Penne (2)
  3. Seo Hee Ham (3)
  4. Lisa Ellis (4)
  5. Simona Soukpova (5)
  6. Lacey Schuckman (6)
  7. Naho Sugiyama (7)
  8. Alex Chambers (8)
  9. Cassie Rodish (9)
  10. Jodie Esquibel (10)
  11. Stephanie Frausto (11)
  12. Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc (12)
  13. Amy Davis (13)
  14. Sadae Numata (15)
  15. Amber Brown (14)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: None

The atomweights also did not have a busy month. Sadae Numata made a slight move with her win at Deep Jewels over Celine Haga, the woman who defeated Naho Sugiyama to continue Sugiyama’s plummet down from No. 1. A name to watch that is not in the rankings yet is Jinh Yu, whose kickboxing and knockout prowess have gained steam with her latest win over Darla Harris. The knockout was so brutal that it instantaneously shot her name into 105-pound ranking talks.

Top Photo: Amanda Nunes (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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.