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 (3)
  4. Lissette Neri (5)
  5. Bobbi-Jo Dalziel (6)
  6. Michelle Young (7)
  7. Tierra Arnold (8)
  8. Ida Ruiten (9)
  9. Jennifer Johnston (10)
  10. Elshadai Cleffman (11)
  11. Lisa McCallam (12)
  12. Charlene Donahue (13)
  13. Katharina Albinus (14)
  14. Jessica Halverson (15)
  15. Anna Barone (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Elina Nilsson (4)

The lightweight division was dormant in terms of top-15 fights in April. Overall, the division remains light on bodies and fights. A planned bout between Michelle Young and Nikki Knudsen was scrapped at the last minute and will be rescheduled in Alaska at a future date. Our fourth-ranked lightweight, Elina Nilsson, dropped out of the rankings due to inactivity, which obviously hurts the strength of the division even further. In May, Charlene Donahue will look to build on her win over fellow ranked fighter Jessica Halverson. She takes on newcomer Jessica Hoy, and looks to streak her way up the anything-goes type of ranks that the lightweight division currently possesses.

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. Faith van Duin (11)
  8. Roberta Rovel (8)
  9. Amanda Bell (7)
  10. Arlene Blencowe (11)
  11. Peggy Morgan (9)
  12. Jessy Miele (12)
  13. Maria Hougaard Djursaa (13)
  14. Marina Shafir (14)
  15. Andria Wawro (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Gabrielle Holloway (15)

The featherweight division had some major shakeups in the month of April due to a couple of high-profile bouts in the Invicta organization. Latoya Walker, having to overcome a significant height and reach disadvantage, was able to solidify herself as the fourth-ranked 145er when she earned a hard-fought unanimous decision over UFC veteran Peggy Morgan. The performance continued to show why Walker is so highly touted. She could be a hop, skip and a jump from a title shot. Also, Faith van Duin made good on her American MMA debut. The New Zealander was able to secure a submission win over the intense Amanda Bell on the same Invicta card where Walker picked up her win. It similarly puts Van Duin in title talks in Invicta, and it shoots her four spots up our rankings. Next month, the only fight on paper as of now between ranked featherweights is set to take place in Bellator. Australian boxer Arlene Blencowe travels to America to take on veteran Adrienna Jenkins, who steps in on late notice for UFC vet Alexis Dufresne. A win for Blencowe would do big things, but Jenkins can sneak herself into the rankings with an impressive win.

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. Holly Holm (10)
  11. Amanda Nunes (11)
  12. Bethe Correia (12)
  13. Tonya Evinger (13)
  14. Marion Reneau (14)
  15. Germaine de Randamie (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

The women of the bantamweight division put on a couple of fun little fights in April, though their outcomes did not impact the rankings. At the beginning of the month, Liz Carmouche took a decision from Lauren Murphy, though many felt Murphy had done enough to win the fight. Regardless, their rankings held firm in the aftermath of the bout. At the end of the month, Alexis Davis was finally able to defeat Sarah Kaufman via submission after a couple of failed attempts earlier in their careers. The win erased the bad taste in Davis’s mouth left by a quick thrashing at the hands of Ronda Rousey last year. Next month is looking like an off month for these ranked fighters, with none of the top 15 scheduled for action.

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

Some big fights took place in the flyweight division in the month of April, though the rankings do not reflect big changes. In Invicta, Vanessa Porto was able to gain revenge on Roxanne Modafferi, who had defeated Porto years ago, in the form of a decision win in the co-main event of Invicta FC 12. The fight between Porto and Modafferi was thought to be a top contender’s bout for Barb Honchak’s gold. However, with Porto missing weight for the fight, that may now be in jeopardy. Reina Cordoba continued her undefeated streak in Central America. She was able to earn a victory over Mexican fighter Diana Reyes. Cordoba is one of the more intriguing international flyweights not currently on a major organization’s roster. Somehow, despite a win in her comeback fight over Nikki Duncan, Pearl Gonzalez dropped out of the rankings. Her lengthy stretch of inactivity may have hurt her there, though her performance at XFO 55 was impressive, to say the least. Elaine Albuquerque is poised to leave the division again. She takes a bout at 135 pounds against Rosy Duarte in Brazil. It’s a balancing act of divisions that has seen her come and go from the flyweight ranks repeatedly.

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

Take a look at last month’s rankings. Now, look at the rankings listed here for the strawweight division. Needless to say, things have changed in a big way. Tecia Torres and Felice Herrig are out of the top 15, while two new contenders bullied their way up the rankings. Previously unranked Maryna Moroz and Livia Renata Souza scored the biggest wins of their respective careers, launching them into the top 10. Moroz upended top contender Joanne Calderwood in quick fashion, squashing Calderwood’s dreams of a title shot and giving Moroz an impressive name on her resume. Souza was able to claim the Invicta strawweight championship with a victory over Katja Kankaanpää. Souza utilized a triangle choke to tear the belt away from the Finn. Randa Markos was also able to score a win in April in a great back-and-forth war with Aisling Daly. Markos earned the unanimous decision. It wasn’t all peaches and cream for the ranked fighters, though. Herrig dropped out of the rankings after getting handled by Paige VanZant. Next month, Rose Namajunas will fight Nina Ansaroff in the first bout for Namajunas since she fell short in The Ultimate Fighter 20 finals fight for the strawweight title. Also competing next month, Jessica Penne looks to build on her first 115-pound win in a while when she takes on Brazilian brawler Juliana Lima.

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. Satako Shinashi (14)
  14. Saori Ishioka (13)
  15. Mina Kurobe (15)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

The atomweight division did not see much activity in April. The only major thing coming out of the division was the signing of Michelle Waterson to the UFC, meaning “The Karate Hottie” will be leaving the 105-pound rankings soon. It’s a big loss that will weaken a division starving for stars. In May, Mina Kurobe will be in action as her ascent at 105 pounds continues. She takes on established vet and formerly ranked Mei Yamaguchi in hopes that she can sniff out a spot closer to the top 10 by month’s end. Be patient, changes are coming.