Juliana Velasquez (Bellator MMA)

Combat Press Women’s MMA Rankings: January 2021

With the growing popularity of women’s MMA, it is important to recognize these women with a rankings system of their own. Between the UFC’s inclusion of weight classes from strawweight up to featherweight, Bellator’s increasing attention to the women’s side of the sport, 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.

Note: the numbers in parentheses represent the fighter’s ranking from the previous month.

Featherweight Division (61.9-66.3 kilograms)
  1. Amanda Nunes (1)
  2. Cris “Cyborg” Justino (2)
  3. Julia Budd (3)
  4. Felicia Spencer (4)
  5. Kayla Harrison (5)
  6. Megan Anderson (6)
  7. Cat Zingano (7)
  8. Arlene Blencowe (8)
  9. Pam Sorenson (9)
  10. Janay Harding (10)

No fighters in the top 10 were in action during the past month, so the rankings remain unchanged.


Bantamweight Division (57.3-61.8 kilograms)
  1. Amanda Nunes (1)
  2. Germaine de Randamie (2)
  3. Holly Holm (3)
  4. Raquel Pennington (4)
  5. Aspen Ladd (5)
  6. Irene Aldana (6)
  7. Ketlen Vieira (7)
  8. Yana Kunitskaya (8)
  9. Julianna Peña (9)
  10. Marion Reneau (10)

No fighters in the top 10 were in action during the past month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

Flyweight Division (52.8-57.2 kilograms)
  1. Valentina Shevchenko (1)
  2. Jessica Andrade (3)
  3. Liz Carmouche (4)
  4. Katlyn Chookagian (5)
  5. Juliana Velasquez (-)
  6. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (2)
  7. Cynthia Calvillo (6)
  8. Jessica Eye (7)
  9. Jennifer Maia (8)
  10. Vanessa Porto (9)

Dropped from rankings: Lauren Murphy (10)

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is no longer the Bellator women’s flyweight champion, nor is she undefeated. In easily the biggest win of the month in women’s MMA, Juliana Velasquez was able to get the better of her Hawaiian counterpart through five rounds at Bellator 254 to walk away with a unanimous decision and the title belt. Velasquez vaults into the top 10 and lands at No. 5, while Macfarlane falls to sixth. Velasquez’s arrival pushes Lauren Murphy just outside of the top 10.

Strawweight Division (50.1-52.7 kilograms)
  1. Weili Zhang (1)
  2. Rose Namajunas (2)
  3. Joanna Jędrzejczyk (3)
  4. Xiaonan Yan (4)
  5. Claudia Gadelha (5)
  6. Carla Esparza (6)
  7. Marina Rodriguez (7)
  8. Michelle Waterson (8)
  9. Tecia Torres (9)
  10. Amanda Ribas (10)

Tecia Torres cemented her ninth-place standing in the strawweight top 10 with a victory over late-replacement opponent Sam Hughes. Torres earned a stoppage at the close of the first round of the pair’s UFC 256 prelim fight when Hughes could not continue due to an eye injury. Mackenzie Dern easily bested Virna Jindaroba on the scorecards at the same event, but she still isn’t able to crack the top 10. The jiu-jitsu ace is knocking on the door, though.

Atomweight Division (Under 50.1 kilograms)
  1. Seo Hee Ham (1)
  2. Ayaka Hamasaki (2)
  3. Alesha Zappitella (3)
  4. Ashley Cummins (4)
  5. Jessica Delboni (5)
  6. Kanna Asakura (6)
  7. Rena Kubota (7)
  8. Lindsey VanZandt (8)
  9. Kelly D’Angelo (10)
  10. Mina Kurobe (9)

Rizin.26 played host to a pair of divisional scraps. No. 2-ranked Ayaka Hamasaki claimed the Rizin super-atomweight crown at the New Year’s Eve show, where she tapped Miyuu Yamamoto with a leg-scissor choke. Earlier in the evening, Kanna Asakura established herself as the probable next contender for Hamasaki’s belt with a decision victory over Ai Shimizu. Asakura tightens her hold on the No. 6 spot.

Editor’s Note: Fighters are eligible to be ranked if they have competed in the last 18 months. Fighters who announce their retirement will remain ranked for a period of six months following their final bout.