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, its recent addition of a strawweight division and the all-female promotion of Invicta FC, more and more women are being exposed to casual and hardcore fans alike. Every month, Combat Press compiles the staff’s individual rankings from lightweight to atomweight to create the Combat Press Women’s MMA Rankings.

Lightweight Division (155 pounds)
  1. Charmaine Tweet (1)
  2. Jozette Cotton (2)
  3. Veronica Rothenhausler (4)
  4. Elina Nilsson (5)
  5. Lissette Neri (6)
  6. Bobbi Jo Dalziel (7)
  7. Michelle Young (8)
  8. Tierra Arnold (9)
  9. Ida Ruiten (10)
  10. Jennifer Johnston (11)
  11. Elshaddai Cleffman (12)
  12. Lisa McCallam (13)
  13. Charlene Donahue (14)
  14. Katharina Albinus (NR)
  15. Jessica Halverson (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Amanda Lucas (3)

The lightweight division saw its top-ranked fighter compete in February, but it wasn’t at 155 pounds. Charmaine Tweet took a run at the Invicta featherweight championship against Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, but she came up short after getting completely destroyed. The loss will hopefully send Tweet back to 155, where she is the top dog and has looked very good. The only fighter to drop out of the rankings was Amanda Lucas, who has been inactive since December 2012. That allows Katharina Albinus to move back into the rankings after a month’s absence. March will see 10th-ranked Jennifer Johnston look to push up her stock when she takes on Denali Barnett. The division is wide open, so a win at any time could do a lot to improve a fighter’s standing in the top 15.

Featherweight Division (145 pounds)
  1. Cris “Cyborg” Justino (1)
  2. Marloes Coenen (2)
  3. Julia Budd (3)
  4. Latoya Walker (4)
  5. Talita Nogueira (5)
  6. Annalisa Bucci (6)
  7. Amanda Bell (7)
  8. Roberta Paim Rovel (8)
  9. Peggy Morgan (9)
  10. Arlene Blencowe (10)
  11. Faith van Duin (12)
  12. Jessy Miele (11)
  13. Maria Hougaard Djursaa (14)
  14. Gabrielle Holloway (13)
  15. Marina Shafir (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

Cris “Cyborg” Justino is back, clean and picking up where she left off. The destroyer and all-time great needed less than a minute to defend her Invicta title, sledging Charmaine Tweet in a one-sided bout. That win sets Cyborg up with a main event in July at Invicta FC 13, where she’ll again defend her title against an opponent to be named. Julia Budd made her Bellator debut in February and picked up the win in absolutely dominating fashion over Gabrielle Holloway. The win continued to prove Budd worthy of her status in the division. So far, the month of March looks to be a dormant one for the featherweights, but we’ll see what happens moving forward.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)
  1. Ronda Rousey (1)
  2. Cat Zingano (2)
  3. Miesha Tate (3)
  4. Sara McMann (4)
  5. Alexis Davis (5)
  6. Jessica Eye (6)
  7. Sarah Kaufman (7)
  8. Liz Carmouche (8)
  9. Lauren Murphy (9)
  10. Bethe Correia (10)
  11. Holly Holm (14)
  12. Amanda Nunes (11)
  13. Tonya Evinger (12)
  14. Marion Reneau (NR)
  15. Germaine de Randamie (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Jessica Andrade (13), Rin Nakai (15)

The best female fighter in the world once again proved why she’s the best. Ronda Rousey defended her title in impressive fashion in February, tapping out Cat Zingano in just 14 seconds. It was a shockingly quick fight despite the fact that many saw Zingano as one of Rousey’s toughest adversaries. One would assume the champ can make a quick turnaround for another bout after she took no damage against Zingano. Bethe Correia, Miesha Tate and Jessica Eye are all waiting in the wings. Holly Holm made her debut on the same card as Rousey, besting Raquel Pennington on the scorecards in a close bout. Holm looked to be affected by nerves, but she was able to pull through in the end. After debuting in the UFC last month and beating Alexis Dufresne, Marion Reneau took on Jessica Andrade. In a bout that lasted just one round, Reneau submitted Andrade with a beautiful triangle choke that has fans buzzing about her. Next month, a couple of ranked fighters will compete. Amanda Nunes will look to get back in the win column when she fights Shayna Baszler in Brazil. Also, Germaine de Randamie looks to boost her stock when she takes on Brazilian prospect Larissa Pacheco.

Flyweight Division (125 pounds)
  1. Barb Honchak (1)
  2. Vanessa Porto (2)
  3. Jennifer Maia (4)
  4. Roxanne Modafferi (5)
  5. Zoila Frausto (6)
  6. Munah Holland (7)
  7. Julia Berezikova (8)
  8. Aline Serio (9)
  9. Elaine Albuquerque (10)
  10. Brenda Gonzales (NR)
  11. Silvana Gomez Juarez (12)
  12. Reyna Cordoba (13)
  13. Pearl Gonzalez (11)
  14. Takayo Hashi (14)
  15. Emily Corso (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: DeAnna Bennett (3)

The flyweight division was very quiet this month. Other than DeAnna Bennett’s exit from the rankings due to a weight-class change, things have stayed about the same. Brenda Gonzales rejoins the rankings after returning to the division. She has switched back and forth between flyweight and bantamweight in an attempt to make the UFC and stay busy. In March, Julia Berezikova returns to action in a fight against another great flyweight in Julie Werner. That should be a great scrap on Werner’s home turf.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)
  1. Carla Esparza (1)
  2. Jessica Aguilar (2)
  3. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (3)
  4. Claudia Gadelha (4)
  5. Joanne Calderwood (5)
  6. Katja Kankaanpaa (6)
  7. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (7)
  8. Rose Namajunas (8)
  9. DeAnna Bennett (NR)
  10. Jessica Penne (10)
  11. Randa Markos (11)
  12. Alexa Grasso (NR)
  13. Tecia Torres (12)
  14. Mizuki Inoue (9)
  15. Felice Herrig (13)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Kalindra Faria (14), Stephanie Eggink (15)

The strawweights were in full force in February. Some of the best competed during the month. Karolina Kowalkiewicz continued her run to the top with an exciting split decision victory over Kalindra Faria, who dropped out of the rankings as a result. Both fighters performed well, but it was Kowalkiewicz who did more and earned the decision in their KSW showdown. DeAnna Bennett makes her debut in the strawweight rankings after dropping from 125 pounds and defeating Norma Center in a workmanlike decision. Alexa Grasso showed the world she’s one of the best prospects in women’s MMA when she defeated Mizuki Inoue in a “Fight of the Night” performance. She showed her well-rounded skill set in the fight, answering any questions critics may have had about her. The best in the division returns in March to defend her UFC title. Strawweight champion Carla Esparza meets surging contender Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event at UFC 185. It should be an interesting fight that could result in a change at the top of the division.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)
  1. Herica Tiburcio (1)
  2. Michelle Waterson (2)
  3. Ayaka Hamasaki (3)
  4. Naho Sugiyama (4)
  5. Jodie Esquibel (5)
  6. Cassie Rodish (6)
  7. Amber Brown (7)
  8. Sadae Numata (8)
  9. Jinh Yu Frey (9)
  10. Liz McCarthy (10)
  11. Janaisa Morandin (11)
  12. Catherine Costigan (12)
  13. Saori Ishioka (13)
  14. Satako Shinashi (15)
  15. Mina Kurobe (14)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

The atomweight division saw a lot of fighters, ranked and unranked, compete in February. Satako Shinashi continued her return to MMA in a positive way, as she was able to tap Emi Yamamoto quickly in the first round. Deep Jewels held the quarterfinals of its atomweight tournament in February, with four women advancing. Mina Kurobe was one of the four. Kurobe bested Emi Tomimatsu en route to the semifinals, where she now will face Mei Yamaguchi. Next month, it appears that the only ranked fighter in action will be Janaisa Morandin, who looks to continue her march up the rankings.