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)

    Van Duin (R) (Facebook)

    Van Duin (R) (Facebook)

  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 (10)
  11. Kate da Silva (11)
  12. Talita Nogueira (12)
  13. Elina Nilsson (13)
  14. Charmaine Tweet (14)
  15. Latoya Walker (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Maria Hougaard Djursaa (15)

The featherweight division is a tiger laying in wait. There was a lack of activity in the month of February, but there are many developments in the near future that should greatly shape the division. For instance, top-10 fighters Ashlee Evans-Smith and Fiona Muxlow are destined to drop to 135 pounds in their next fights. They are just waiting on a date and an opponent to make their debuts at their new weight class. Then, there’s the queen of the division, Cris Cyborg, who has expressed that she is ready to finally make the weight cut and fight Ronda Rousey at bantamweight, though it remains to be seen if Cyborg, who is muscular and large, can safely shed the additional weight. Meanwhile, we still await a challenger to Cyborg’s featherweight belt. Invicta will likely put Ediane Gomes or Julia Budd up against Cyborg next, possibly at the upcoming Invicta FC 8. Speaking of Invicta, the promotion has inked No. 10-ranked Faith van Duin to a contract. She will debut with Invicta later this year.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)
  1. Ronda Rousey (1)

    Davis (top) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Davis (top) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

With the UFC fully backing the women’s bantamweight machine, the division had some key fights in February. UFC 170 played host to the bantamweight title bout, as well as a potential top contender’s fight. Ronda Rousey successfully defended her title against Olympic counterpart Sara McMann, stopping McMann with a knee to the liver and some follow-up punches. It was the first win by Rousey that did not come via armbar. at the same event, Alexis Davis edged Jessica Eye by way of a split decision in a bout that could have gone either way. Many believe the win secured Davis’s spot as the next challenger to Rousey’s gold once the champ returns in the summer. in March, the UFC hosts another women’s bout, this time with No. 15-ranked Jessica Andrade taking on TUF 18 vet Raquel Pennington. Pennington steps in on short notice after Andrade’s original opponent, Julianna Pena, suffered a catastrophic leg injury. In a battle which promises only fireworks, the winner of that bout will likely boost their stock further up the divisional ladder.

Flyweight Division (125 pounds)
  1. Barb Honchak (1)

    Porto (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

    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 (8)
  9. Brenda Gonzales (9)
  10. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (10)
  11. Munah Holland (11)
  12. Julia Berezikova (12)
  13. Juliana Werner (13)
  14. Tina Lahdemaki (14)
  15. Alexa Grasso (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

Much like the featherweight division, the flyweight division was dormant in February, as none of the top fighters threw down. However, Brazilian Claudia Rey, a woman who is threatening to push up the rankings, had two wins this month. She was able to notch victories over Kessiny Mara and Priscila Stadler. If Rey, who now holds an undefeated record through four fights, keeps rattling off wins like this, she could turn into the next Kalindra Faria, a fighter who has carved herself a nice resume and some attention from women’s MMA fans. In March, two ranked fighters find themselves booked in an attempt to move closer to that top spot in the rankings. Vanessa Porto takes a fight in Brazil against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Ana “India” Maria. That bout should be fantastic, as both women are tremendous grapplers. Then, at MMA Super Heroes, Faria meets Laura Balin in what apparently will be a strawweight bout. The shift in divisions may not be a permanent one for Faria, who meets Aline Serio at flyweight at the next XFC Brazil card.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)
  1. Jessica Aguilar (1)

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

    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 (6)
  7. Mizuki Inoue (8)
  8. Katja Kankaanpaa (7)
  9. Felice Herrig (9)
  10. Bec Rawlings (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

With almost half of the top 15 competing on The Ultimate Fighter 20, which is set to film in a couple of months, you can bet activity in this weight class is coming to a screeching halt for a while. However, that does not completely stop the news train. Mizuki Inoue had an up-and-down month while competing with Deep Jewels. She missed weight in her bout against Emi Tomimatsu, effectively taking away any chance of a win under the rules of the promotion. However, even though the botched weight cut translates into a loss on her record, she won the actual fight when she submitted Tomimatsu with an armbar. It’s enough to move her a spot up in the rankings. Karolina Kowalkiewicz inked a deal with Invicta which should see her debut this year, despite the fact she already has a fight booked against Jasminka Cive under the KSW banner in May. Two contenders to the rankings have fights next month which could make things interesting. Herica Tiburcio takes on Aline Sattelmayer in Tiburcio’s native Brazil, and Randa Markos Thomas meets Lynnell House in Canada.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)
  1. Michelle Waterson (1)

    Penne (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

    Penne (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

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

It was another relatively quiet month for the atomweights, who are the most overlooked division in all of women’s MMA. That being said, the division has some tremendous talent, though they may jump to 115 pounds with the prospect of a new strawweight division in the UFC. The big result of the month was in favor of Naho Sugiyama. The former top atomweight in the world notched an important victory over Satomi Takano. She had fallen drastically down the rankings in recent times, but the win bumped her back up. As of right now, none of the ranked atomweights are scheduled to throw down, but we keep a watchful eye as we wait with angst.

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.