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. Some women were taken out of the rankings due to an 18-month or longer period of inactivity.

Featherweight Division (145 pounds)

  1. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (1)

    Budd (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Budd (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Marloes Coenen (2)
  3. Ediane Gomes (3)
  4. Julia Budd (4)
  5. Veronica Rothenhausler (5)
  6. Tamikka Brents (6)
  7. Pannie Kianzad (9)
  8. Ashlee Evans-Smith (11)
  9. Fiona Muxlow (10)
  10. Charmaine Tweet (12)
  11. Faith van Duin (13)
  12. Kate da Silva (14)
  13. Talita Nogueira (NR)
  14. Elina Nilsson (15)
  15. Latoya Walker (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Gabrielle Holloway (7), Peggy Morgan (8)

It was a very interesting month for the featherweight division. Two top-10 women dropped from the rankings and most of the women in the division moved up a spot or two. Peggy Morgan migrated down to the bantamweight division for The Ultimate Fighter and lost to Jessamyn Duke at the finale via unanimous decision. Gabrielle Holloway also moved out of the top 15 after she dropped a decision to the now-ranked Latoya Walker, who outhustled Holloway for the better of three rounds. The other new entry to the rankings is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Talita Nogueira, an undefeated submission fighter who is set to make her sixth pro appearance in December opposite of Michele Oliveira. The biggest fight of the month will take place at Invicta FC 7, when potential top contender Julia Budd takes on fellow Canadian Charmaine Tweet in a high-stakes bout. A win for Budd could not only make her a top-three fighter, but earn her a shot at top-ranked Invicta champ Cyborg.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)

  1. Ronda Rousey (1)

    Nunes (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Nunes (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Cat Zingano (2)
  3. Sara McMann (3)
  4. Miesha Tate (4)
  5. Alexis Davis (6)
  6. Jessica Eye (5)
  7. Sarah Kaufman (7)
  8. Liz Carmouche (8)
  9. Shayna Baszler (9)
  10. Lauren Murphy (10)
  11. Amanda Nunes (14)
  12. Rin Nakai (11)
  13. Sarah D’Alelio (12)
  14. Germaine de Randamie (13)
  15. Holly Holm (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Miriam Nakamoto (15)

The bantamweight division continues to be the most spotlighted and busy of the weight classes due to its inclusion in the UFC and the amount of talent that roams its ranks. UFC Fight for the Troops saw two females take big wins. Alexis Davis outstruck former title challenger Liz Carmouche in impressive fashion, and Amanda Nunes grounded and pounded Germaine de Randamie to a referee stoppage. December will see further activity in the division, with the most important bout coming between UFC champion Ronda Rousey and challenger Miesha Tate. Their rivalry will come to an end with Rousey’s belt up for grabs. Lauren Murphy and Miriam Nakamoto will take part in a title fight at Invicta FC 7, as one woman will become the first-ever Invicta 135-pound champion. It’s also an opportunity for Nakamoto to jump back into the rankings. Also on that card, Sarah D’Alelio welcomes ranked flyweight Tonya Evinger back to the 135-pound division on late notice. Kelly Kobold was Evinger’s original opponent, but “The Monster” will take this bout on just a couple weeks’ notice. Rising star Holly Holm will return to the cage and look for another knockout when she takes on longtime veteran Angela Hayes. One has to believe a win here would propel the Greg Jackson product to the UFC.

Flyweight Division (125 pounds)

  1. Barb Honchak (1)

    Faria (Gleidson Venga/Sherdog)

    Faria (Gleidson Venga/Sherdog)

  2. Vanessa Porto (2)
  3. Leslie Smith (3)
  4. Jennifer Maia (4)
  5. Michelle Ould (5)
  6. Kalindra Faria (6)
  7. Zoila Gurgel (7)
  8. Munah Holland (8)
  9. Tonya Evinger (10)
  10. Aisling Daly (9)
  11. Brenda Gonzales (11)
  12. Bethe Correia (12)
  13. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13)
  14. Nina Ansaroff (14)
  15. Julia Berezikova (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

The flyweight division had a calm month in November, but December will see a big increase in activity. Of the top 15, only Kalindra Faria competed in a bout. The Brazilian was victorious over Hellen Bastos at MMA Super Heroes 2, where she won via impressive TKO. December finds top-ranked Barb Honchak headlining Invicta FC 7 opposite Leslie Smith with Honchak’s 125-pound title on the line. Former title challenger Vanessa Porto will also fight on that card against former Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel in what could be a dark-horse fight on that card. Munah Holland will make her Invicta debut opposite of Nina Ansaroff in a battle of strikers that could elevate the winner of that match up the rankings in a big way. Ireland’s Aisling Daly will compete overseas against Spanish vet Karla Benitez, who could crack the top 15 with a win over the 10th-ranked Daly. A big move is coming this month when Bethe Correia heads to UFC Fight Night 33 to fight Julie Kedzie at 135 pounds, effectively moving the Brazilian out of the flyweight division. All in all, the rankings will look quite different next month.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)

  1. Jessica Aguilar (1)

    Inoue (R) (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

    Inoue (R) (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

  2. Carla Esparza (2)
  3. Claudia Gadelha (3)
  4. Joanne Calderwood (4)
  5. Ayaka Hamasaki (5)
  6. Katja Kankaanpaa (6)
  7. Mizuki Inoue (8)
  8. Tecia Torres (7)
  9. Felice Herrig (9)
  10. Bec Hyatt (10)
  11. Rose Namajunas (11)
  12. Stephanie Eggink (12)
  13. Yuka Tsuji (13)
  14. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (15)
  15. Emi Fujino (14)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

Like the flyweight division, the strawweight division is set to have a huge December, thanks in big part to Invicta. In November, a big bout took place in Japan, where prodigy Mizuki Inoue defeated Emi Fujino in a pivotal bout that affected their rankings from last month. Inoue is a future champion and blue chipper worth keeping an eye on. The biggest news of the month came in the form of the UFC announcing its plan to add a 115-pound division in the near future, which could attract a bevy of talent to the company. The other big news was the signing of Jessica Aguilar to World Series of Fighting, which shows that the promotion is ready to build a division around the top-ranked fighter. At Invicta FC 7, Carla Esparza will defend her strawweight title against Claudia Gadelha in one of the most interesting fights of the night. It will be a wrestler vs. a jiu-jitsu fighter, which could make for a great chess match. Newly signed Invicta star Felice Herrig will make her awaited debut against top prospect Tecia Torres in a bout that will battle for “Fight of the Night” honors. Scottish buzzsaw Joanne Calderwood is also on that card, taking on Finnish veteran (and her biggest test to date) Katja Kankaanpaa. A win for Calderwood could easily draw her a title shot.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)

  1. Michelle Waterson (1)

    Ham (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

    Ham (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

  2. Jessica Penne (2)
  3. Seo Hee Ham (3)
  4. Lisa Ellis (4)
  5. Lacey Schuckman (5)
  6. Simona Soukupova (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 (14)
  14. Amber Brown (15)
  15. Diana Rael (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Sadae Numata (13)

The atomweight division continues to fight for respect, and there were some important bouts in the month of November that shaped up the rankings. Third-ranked Seo Hee Ham kept her drive to the top strong. The South Korean star was able to defeat Sadae Numata, which effectively pushed Numata out of the rankings. Naho Sugiyama got back to her winning ways over in Japan as well, defeating veteran Masako Yoshida to gain some momentum back. Amy Davis made a slight move in the rankings as well. Davis was able to defeat Thea Wolfe to solidify her place in the top 15. December is going to be a pretty dormant month, except for Davis, who will make a quick turnaround to fight again. She will battle Angela Hill on short notice at XFC 27. That fight was originally intended to feature Stephanie Skinner. Perhaps Invicta FC 8, should it happen in January, will feature more 105-pound bouts and keep the division going.

Top Photo: Alexis Davis (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.