Amanda Nunes (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Combat Press Women’s MMA Rankings: January 2017

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 featherweight to atomweight to create the Combat Press Women’s MMA Rankings.

Featherweight Division (145 pounds)
  1. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (1)
  2. Marloes Coenen (2)
  3. Julia Budd (3)
  4. Charmaine Tweet (4)
  5. Megan Anderson (5)
  6. Annalisa Bucci (6)
  7. Arlene Blencowe (7)
  8. Latoya Walker (8)
  9. Roberta Paim (9)
  10. Daria Ibragimova (10)

It was a quiet end to 2016 for the featherweights in terms of fights, as none of the top-10 fighters were in action. However, there was a big announcement as the UFC will be adding the 145-pound division in the coming year. An inaugural title fight will take place at UFC 208. Unfortunately, Cristiane Justino will not be competing for that belt due to health concerns and a suspicious drug test. Instead, former bantamweight champion Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie will be moving up a weight class to battle for the belt. Also in January, two top-five featherweights collide in the main event of Invicta FC 21, as Megan Anderson looks to pick up where 2016 left off against seasoned veteran Charmaine Tweet. Lastly, Arlene Blencowe drops to 135 pounds for a bout in her native country to take on invading Brazilian Amanda Lemos.

Bantamweight Division (135 pounds)
  1. Amanda Nunes (1)
  2. Valentina Shevchenko (2)
  3. Holly Holm (3)
  4. Ronda Rousey (4)
  5. Julianna Pena (5)
  6. Raquel Pennington (6)
  7. Cat Zingano (7)
  8. Miesha Tate (8)
  9. Sara McMann (9)
  10. Liz Carmouche (10)

The year of 2016 ended in crazy fashion for the bantamweight division, to say the least. In the main event of UFC 207, Ronda Rousey was unable to recapture the UFC bantamweight championship against Amanda Nunes. Instead, Nunes finished her in less than a minute. Also in December, Sara McMann defeated a returning Alexis Davis, who fought for the first time since taking time away from pregnancy. Looking into January, a Fox event will be headlined by the bantamweights, as Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena look to punch their ticket to a title fight with the aforementioned Nunes.


Flyweight Division (125 pounds)
  1. Jennifer Maia (1)
  2. Vanessa Porto (2)
  3. Roxanne Modafferi (3)
  4. Julia Berezikova (4)
  5. Sarah D’Alelio (6)
  6. Rin Nakai (9)
  7. DeAnna Bennett (5)
  8. Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (8)
  9. Kalindra Faria (7)
  10. Poliana Botelho/Andrea Lee (10)

The flyweight division ended 2016 with major shakeups, as it continues to prosper as the most underrated division in women’s MMA. Rin Nakai made a successful debut with the Rizin organization when she was able to beat Kanako Murata. Nakai’s drop to 125 has been proven to be the correct move, as she is now 3-0 with three stoppages since her UFC release. Also, Agnieszka Niedzwiedz proved that her move to 125 was a fantastic idea, as she decimated Brazilian prospect Samara Santos to a brutal finish. Niedzwiedz is undefeated and one of the best prospects in the flyweight division. Looking into the first month of 2017, Andrea Lee will look to move up the ladder at Invicta FC 21 when she takes on veteran Jenny Liou. Also, DeAnna Bennett will take another crack at strawweight at that same event when she takes on Jodie Esquibel.

Strawweight Division (115 pounds)
  1. Joanna Jędrzejczyk (1)
  2. Claudia Gadelha (2)
  3. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (3)
  4. Carla Esparza (4)
  5. Jessica Aguilar (5)
  6. Jessica Andrade (6)
  7. Rose Namajunas (7)
  8. Michelle Waterson (10)
  9. Alexa Grasso (8)
  10. Joanne Calderwood (9)

The strawweight division is going strong going into 2017, as it has proven to be the most competitive and most exciting division in women’s MMA. The only fight of the month was an important one, as Michelle Waterson and Paige VanZant headlined a Fox card. Waterson choked out the young star, cementing herself as a contender in a division full of sharks. The first month of 2017 will be a quiet one for the division, as none of the top-10 are in action.

Atomweight Division (105 pounds)
  1. Ayaka Hamasaki (1)
  2. Jinh Yu Frey (2)
  3. Naho Sugiyama (3)
  4. Herica Tiburcio (4)
  5. Janaisa Morandin (5)
  6. Julia Jones (6)
  7. Tessa Simpson (7)
  8. Satoko Shinashi (8)
  9. Simona Soukupova (9)
  10. Kyra Batara (NR)
  • Dropped out of the rankings: Kanna Asakura (10)

The atomweights finished up with a minor shake up in the month December, as two ranked fighters had bouts, but one was unable to stay in the rankings. On the positive side, Simona Soukupova made a quick turnaround from her Invicta loss to Herica Tiburcio to beat Anna Bezhenar in Europe. It kept her a top-10 fighter in a division that has plenty of up-and-coming talent. Kanna Asakura was unable to maintain her top-10 spot, as she was upset by Alyssa Garcia on the Rizin card in Japan. Currently, none of the top-10 fighters are scheduled to fight in January.

Editor’s Note: Fighters are eligible to be ranked if they have competed in the last 18 months. Any fighter that chooses to switch weight classes will be ranked in their previous weight class until they have competed twice in their new division.