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. Cris “Cyborg” Justino (1)
    Julia Budd (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

    Julia Budd (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

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

The featherweight division remained somewhat calm in the month of December, leaving the rankings to stay somewhat similar to the previous month. Julia Budd was victorious at Invicta FC 7 with a dominant performance over Charmaine Tweet, whom she beat via unanimous decision in a ground battle. Also, Talita Nogueira won another bout when she put away Michele Oliveira via submission. The BJJ ace continues to climb up the rankings. So far, it looks like the new year will be quiet for the 145-pounders, but expect this division to get a shake-up soon, as Ashlee Evans-Smith plans on dropping to 135 when she fights for World Series of Fighting.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)
  1. Ronda Rousey (1)
    Ronda Rousey (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Ronda Rousey (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

The bantamweight division continues to be a bevy of activity, thanks to its status as the most featured weight class in women’s MMA. Obviously, the biggest fight of the month was the title tilt between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, which saw the champion, Rousey, taken out of the first round for the first time ever. She finished Tate with her trademark armbar in the third round after Tate put up a great fight. Lauren Murphy climbed a tad up the rankings after defeating Miriam Nakamoto for the Invicta 135-pound belt, but Murphy’s victory came after Nakamoto injured her knee. Holly Holm continued her winning ways with a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over respected vet Angela Hayes. That sets up Holm’s next fight, a title bout in Legacy FC against Juliana Aguiar later in 2014. MMA pioneer Julie Kedzie hung up her gloves following a loss to Bethe Correia and took a job as matchmaker for Invicta FC. All in all, it was a good month for the 135-pound division.

Flyweight Division (125 pounds)
  1. Barb Honchak (1)
    Vanessa Porto (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

    Vanessa Porto (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

  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. Nina Ansaroff (14)
  9. Brenda Gonzales (11)
  10. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13)
  11. Munah Holland (8)
  12. Julia Berezikova (15)
  13. Juliana Aguiar (NR)
  14. Tina Lahdemaki (NR)
  15. Alexa Grasso (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Tonya Evinger, Aisling Daly, Bethe Correia

The usually tranquil flyweight division saw huge shake-ups in December, with three women leaving their ranked spots in the division to pursue different options. Tonya Evinger and Bethe Correia left for the bantamweight division, where they were both victorious in their respective debuts against Sarah D’Alelio and Julie Kedzie. Aisling Daly moved back to her natural weight class of 115 pounds, where she submitted Spanish veteran Karla Benitez. That left the division wide open for new contenders. Barb Honchak solidified her top position in the rankings by defending her title against Leslie Smith in a fun main event at Invicta FC 7. It was back-and-forth action, but eventually “The Little Warrior” prevailed and kept her gold. Vanessa Porto was also in action and defeated former Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel, who now finds herself on a three-fight skid. Porto showed improved stand-up and grinded her way past the ultra-game Gurgel. Nina Ansaroff springboarded her way up the rankings with a shocking TKO finish of Munah Holland, using great takedowns and serious ground-and-pound to make an awesome debut for Invicta. The flyweight division is slowly but surely building up into an exciting weight class.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)
  1. Jessica Aguilar (1)
    Joanne Calderwood (L) (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

    Joanne Calderwood (L) (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

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

It was a newsworthy month for the strawweights, as it was announced that the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter will be an all-female cast. Eleven of the participants were announced, all of whom will migrate over from Invicta after their contracts were bought out by the UFC. The cast will be comprised of Invicta champion Carla Esparza, plus Claudia Gadelha, Joanne Calderwood, Tecia Torres, Felice Herrig, Bec Hyatt, Rose Namajunas, Juliana Lima, Alex Chambers, Paige VanZant and Emily Kagan. Fight-wise, the month saw a star born, as Tecia Torres upset Felice Herrig in impressive fashion, earning her some attention from Esparza. Speaking of Esparza, her fight with Gadelha was called off the day before Invicta FC 7 when Gadelha was medically unable to compete. Calderwood notched another win when she defeated respected Finnish vet Kankaanpaa by utilizing her technical striking. Emi Fujino was announced as a signee with World Series of Fighting. The promotion will give her a bigger platform to fight on. All in all, the future is bright for the strawweight division.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)
  1. Michelle Waterson (1)
    Jessica Penne (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

    Jessica Penne (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

  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. Amber Brown (14)
  14. Amy Davis (13)
  15. Diana Rael (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

The atomweight division had a tranquil month, with no fighters in the rankings performing. Notably, Alex Chambers will be going up to strawweight to compete on The Ultimate Fighter later in 2014, which will open up a spot in the 105-pound division. The top contender for Michelle Waterson’s gold at this point has to be former champion Jessica Penne, who had a competitive bout with Waterson before and is easily still the biggest threat to the champ. The atomweights have proven to be exciting, so keep an eye on them in the future.

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.