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.

Since this is the first installment of the rankings, rankings from the previous month are not included.

Featherweight Division (145 pounds)

  1. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino

    No. 4 - Julia Budd picked up another win under the Invicta banner in April (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

  2. Marloes Coenen
  3. Ediane Gomes
  4. Julia Budd
  5. Germaine de Randamie
  6. Hiroko Yamanaka
  7. Romy Ruyssen
  8. Elaina Maxwell
  9. Yana Kunitskaya
  10. Veronica Rothenhausler
  11. Tamikka Brents
  12. Gabrielle Holloway
  13. Peggy Morgan
  14. Fiona Muxlow
  15. Pannie Kianzad

With Invicta hosting its fifth event in the month of April, a number of 145-pound talents were able to showcase their abilities. In her long-anticipated return to the cage, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino trashed Fiona Muxlow to recapture her top spot. Julia Budd was able to dominate Mollie Estes in her bout to solidify her spot at No. 4. Gabrielle Holloway is getting her name on the map, especially after her win in the month of April over Roseanne Garcia. Germaine de Randamie will fall off this list soon, as the Dutch striker will make her UFC debut against Julie Kedzie in the bantamweight division. Looking toward the future, Cyborg will fight No. 2-ranked Marloes Coenen for the 145-pound strap in Invicta. In what could be a top-contender’s bout, Ediane Gomes will meet Budd on the same Invicta card. And prodigy Veronica Rothenhausler will also grace that Invicta event, set to take place in July, when she takes on Estes on the undercard.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)

  1. Ronda Rousey

    No. 2 - Cat Zingano staked her claim as the No. 1 contender for Rousey's belt (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Cat Zingano
  3. Sara McMann
  4. Miesha Tate
  5. Sarah Kaufman
  6. Alexis Davis
  7. Liz Carmouche
  8. Shayna Baszler
  9. Sarah D’Alelio
  10. Leslie Smith
  11. Amanda Nunes
  12. Lauren Taylor
  13. Hitomi Akano
  14. Rin Nakai
  15. Jessica Andrade

The bantamweight division really got shaking this month between the Invicta event and two UFC fights. Cat Zingano jumped up to the second spot with her knockout of No. 4-ranked Miesha Tate at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale. That win now puts her against top-ranked Ronda Rousey as a coach on the next season of the reality show and gives her a future title shot. Sara McMann made a successful UFC debut with her dominant performance against unranked Sheila Gaff. Sarah Kaufman was given all she could handle against Leslie Smith at Invicta FC 5 and walked away with a controversial close decision. Lauren Taylor jumped up the rankings with her Invicta win over veteran Kaitlin Young and Jessica Andrade stormed the top 15 with a huge upset of Milana Dudieva. Moving forward, we will see Alexis Davis take on former (and still ranked) flyweight Rosi Sexton in both of their UFC debuts in Winnipeg. Taylor will get another top opponent under the Invicta banner when she meets Sarah D’Alelio. And Rin Nakai will fight regular flyweight Brenda Gonzales in the Pancrase promotion coming up this month.

Flyweight Division (125 pounds)

  1. Barb Honchak

    No. 1 - Barb Honchak claimed Invicta gold in April (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

  2. Vanessa Porto
  3. Jessica Eye
  4. Rosi Sexton
  5. Jennifer Maia
  6. Michelle Ould
  7. Tara LaRosa
  8. Tonya Evinger
  9. Zoila Gurgel
  10. Munah Holland
  11. Aisling Daly
  12. Marianna Kheyfets
  13. Julia Berezikova
  14. Brenda Gonzales
  15. Kalindra Faria

The flyweights are best featured by Bellator and Invicta, but it was the latter organization that put on the most important fight for the division this month. Top-ranked Barb Honchak defeated No. 2-ranked Vanessa Porto to win the flyweight title for Invicta FC. Jennifer Maia scored an upset over former Bellator women’s champ Zoila Gurgel at that same event to surge up the rankings. The division’s fourth-ranked Rosi Sexton is scheduled to move up to bantamweight to meet Alexis Davis at UFC 161. Brenda Gonzales will fight bantamweight Rin Nakai at Pancrase in May. The only woman in the division currently scheduled for a flyweight bout is Kalindra Faria, who meets Dayse Nascimento in the Detonic Fight promotion in Brazil.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)

  1. Jessica Aguilar

    No. 9 - Bec Hyatt bounced back from an Invicta title loss with a submission win (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

  2. Megumi Fujii
  3. Carla Esparza
  4. Ayaka Hamasaki
  5. Joanne Calderwood
  6. Katja Kankaanpaa
  7. Felice Herrig
  8. Seo Hee Ham
  9. Bec Hyatt
  10. Claudia Gadelha
  11. Rose Namajunas
  12. Mei Yamaguchi
  13. Tecia Torres
  14. Yuka Tsuji
  15. Mizuki Inoue

The strawweight division is finally getting on the map with the help of Invicta FC and Bellator. In April, Katja Kankaapaa earned a victory over Julianna Carneiro Lima to earn her spot in the rankings. Seo Hee Ham earned a victory over Ryo Mizunami in the Gladiator promotion. And Joanne Calderwood destroyed Sally Krumdiack in the Cage Warriors promotion. Coming up for the division, third-ranked Carla Esparza puts her Invicta championship on the line against fourth-ranked Ayaka Hamasaki in July. On that same card, Calderwood will fight Claudia Gadelha to move closer to a title shot in the division. Ham will drop to atomweight to face ranked Japanese fighter Naho Sugiyama. Also on the strawweight-heavy Invicta FC 6 card, Bec Hyatt will meet Mizuki Inoue and Rose Namajunas will fight Tecia Torres. Plenty of shakeups could happen in the fallout of those bouts.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)

  1. Michelle Waterson

    Michelle Waterson poses with her team after capturing the Invicta 105-pound title (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

  2. Jessica Penne
  3. Lisa Ellis
  4. Naho Sugiyama
  5. Simona Soukupova
  6. Lacey Schuckman
  7. Alex Chambers
  8. Kikuyo Ishikawa
  9. Cassie Rodish
  10. Jodie Esquibel
  11. Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc
  12. Stephanie Frausto
  13. Amy Davis
  14. Yasuko Tamada
  15. Diana Rael

The atomweight division is developing as one of the most entertaining divisions to watch on the women’s side of the sport. The month of April saw a big shakeup, as Michelle Waterson earned the Invicta title and the top spot in the rankings by defeating defending champion Jessica Penne. In her Invicta debut, Simona Soukupova defeated Cassie Rodish. Meanwhile, Alex Chambers, also making her Invicta debut, took out Jodie Esquibel. Kikuyo Ishikawa was able to defeat Miyoko Kusaka to continue her run up the rankings. Diana Rael defeated Ashley Aguirre under the Made for War banner to grab the final spot on the rankings. Moving forward, Penne will try to get back in the win column when she fights Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc under the Invicta banner. In the Sparta Combat League, Lacey Schuckman will meet Jody Lynn Reicher and Amy Davis squares off with Darla Harris. Plus, the Jewels promotion in Japan will play host to Naho Sugiyama when she welcomes back current strawweight Seo Hee Ham to the 105-pound division.

Top Photo: Cris “Cyborg” Justino (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.