Julianna Pena (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Combat Press Women’s MMA Rankings: November 2015

Riley Kontek Staff Writer

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.

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 (7)
  8. Arlene Blencowe (8)
  9. Roberta Rovel (9)
  10. Peggy Morgan/Amanda Bell (10)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

October was an incredibly slow month for the featherweight division, but fear not because the month of November should have some great top-10 action. Bellator plays host to two matches with ranked opponents, the first of which will pit Arlene Blencowe against Gabrielle Holloway. Blencowe looks to erase the memory of a loss in her last outing to second-ranked Marloes Coenen, while Holloway seeks to jump back into the spotlight after some hard times. There’s also a potential title eliminator is afoot, as Brazil’s Roberta Rovel makes her American debut when she takes on Canadian terror Julia Budd. The winner figures to be a candidate for the vacant featherweight title, possibly against Marloes Coenen.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)
  1. Ronda Rousey (1)
  2. Miesha Tate (2)
  3. Cat Zingano (3)
  4. Alexis Davis (4)
  5. Sarah Kaufman (6)
  6. Tonya Evinger (7)
  7. Amanda Nunes (8)
  8. Sara McMann (9)
  9. Julianna Pena (NR)
  10. Jessica Eye (5)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Liz Carmouche (10)

A new name jumps into the top 10 this month and replaces Liz Carmouche, a fighter we haven’t seen in a long while. Julianna Pena stormed up the rankings in the month of October, besting consistent top-10 fighter Jessica Eye in a dominant decision at UFC 192 in Houston. Pena has been on a roll since winning The Ultimate Fighter 18 and recovering from a devastating knee injury. Her name is now on a short list of contenders to Ronda Rousey’s title. In the month of November, the best female fighter on the planet will be in action in the main event of UFC 193, as Ronda Rousey looks to thwart the title aspirations of former boxing champ Holly Holm.


Flyweight Division (125 pounds)
  1. Barb Honchak (1)
  2. Vanessa Porto (2)
  3. Jennifer Maia (3)
  4. Roxanne Modafferi (4)
  5. Julia Berezikova (5)
  6. Brenda Gonzales (6)
  7. Aline Serio (7)
  8. Reina Cordoba (8)
  9. Emily Corso (9)
  10. Kate Jackson (10)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

The flyweight division had a couple of ranked women fight in the month of October, though it did absolutely nothing to affect their ranking in the division. Jennifer Maia took a fight in Brazil, where she defeated Priscila Souza with relative ease. We haven’t seen Maia with a significant challenge since she last competed in Invicta, meaning a call back to the all-women’s promotion should be an immediate order. Julia Berezikova moved up to the bantamweight division and finished Rosy Duarte in Russia. Berezikova has looked to be a solid prospect, and 135 pounds could be the division for her, especially because it would warrant a run in the UFC. Looking forward to November, just one ranked fighter is currently booked in a bout. That fighter is Reina Cordoba, who will take on Sabina Mazo in the Central American regional scene.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)
  1. Joanna Jędrzejczyk (1)
  2. Claudia Gadelha (2)
  3. Jessica Aguilar (3)
  4. Carla Esparza (4)
  5. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (5)
  6. DeAnna Bennett (6)
  7. Rose Namajunas (9)
  8. Joanne Calderwood (8)
  9. Livia Renata Souza (7)
  10. Jessica Penne (10)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

The strawweight division featured a fighter making a significant move up in the rankings in October. Rose Namajunas returned to the UFC in devastating fashion when she took on and destroyed Angela Hill to bring her name back into title contention. Before a title shot, though, Namajunas was granted a main-event replacement spot against Paige VanZant, who was originally slated to face Joanne Calderwood in December before the Scot backed out from injury. It’s a huge opportunity for Namajunas. Looking forward, the baddest woman in the division, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, will defend her UFC title in the co-main event of UFC 193 when she meets up with Canadian contender Valerie Letourneau. Also, Brenda Gonzales will compete at 135 pounds when she fights for Sugar Creek Showdown gold against Anita Rodriguez.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)
  1. Ayaka Hamasaki (1)
  2. Herica Tiburcio (2)
  3. Naho Sugiyama (3)
  4. Amber Brown (4)
  5. Jodie Esquibel (5)
  6. Jinh Yu Frey (6)
  7. Cassie Rodish (7)
  8. Janaisa Morandin (8)
  9. Satoko Shinashi (9)
  10. Liz McCarthy (10)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: n/a

The atomweight division was relatively quiet, as usual, but the new workhorse of the division, Satoko Shinashi, continued to keep the division active. Shinashi took on Hida Choi in Japan and did not disappoint, earning yet another victory since returning from her long-term hiatus. A step up in competition is due for Shinashi, otherwise a move up in rankings would be hard to justify. Next month, the only ranked fighter in action will be Naho Sugiyama, who competes in Deep Jewels against Mina Kurobe in a high-stakes bout.