On February 23, 2013, The Ultimate Fighting Championship made history, with a Pay-Per-View headlined by the first UFC women’s fight in history. Accordingly, this event received widespread coverage from not just niche fighting websites, but also from mainstream newspapers such as USA Today, due to the historic advance for women that the event represents.
Here are ten women MMA fighters who are ready to not only be part of history, but dominate their sport.
10. Michele “Diablita” Gutierrez
Gutierrez has won three professional MMA fights, and two professional boxing fights. She is the first female to appear on Wanderlei Silva’s renowned fight team. She also participates in various humanitarian activities, concerning breast cancer awareness and opposition to human trafficking.
9. Erica Montoya
Montoya is the first woman to ever appear as a playable character in an MMA video game. She has an MMA record of six wins and two losses. She was one of the youngest women to ever compete professionally, at seventeen years of age, and nearly became the first women to fight in the UFC. She has also achieved success competing in jiu-jitsu and submission wrestling.
8. Felice Nicole Herrig
Herrig has won seven professional MMA fights, and has won the International Kickboxing Federation Pro Muay Thai United States Bantamweight Title. She has also twice become the International Kickboxing Federation Open Tournament Champion.
7. Gina Joy Carano
Carano is one of the most recognizable female mixed-martial artists around. Despite never holding a major championship, and not having fought since 2009, she also only sports one loss in her entire career. Carano’s crossover success includes action figures, a stint on American Gladiators, and a Hollywood career as an action star, in films such as Haywire and Fast Six.
6. Zoila Gurgel
Gurgel is the current, and only-ever, Bellator Women’s Champion. Her husband is also a notable MMA fighter, who appeared as a contestant on the popular Ultimate Fighter television show.
5. Miesha Tate
Tate is the only woman to ever win a Strikeforce tournament, and is a former Strikeforce women’s champion as well. She has won thirteen MMA bouts, and a silver medal in a world grappling competition. She also appears in a documentary about the sport called Fight Life.
4. Sarah Kaufman
Kaufman has only suffered two losses in her career, but has otherwise had her hand raised in victory an impressive fifteen times. She was the first-ever Hardcore Championship Fighting Women’s Bantamweight Champion, and then added the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship to her mantle.
3. Marloes Coenen
Coenen has fought the most of any of the women on this list, having amassed a record of twenty wins and five losses in her professional career. In 2010, she defeated Sarah Kaufman to become the second-ever Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, a title which she successfully defended as well. Since losing her title, she headlined the first all-female card for the Invicta Fighting Championship, and added another victory to her record.
2. Ronda Rousey
Rousey is undefeated in both amateur and professional MMA, winning all of her matches by armbar submission. She has both won, and defended, the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship, and has become the first woman fighter to officially sign with the UFC. She is also an Olympic medalist in judo, and has won gold medals in the Pan-American Judo Championship.
1. Cristiane Santos
Santos has the highest number of successful title defenses for a women’s MMA fighter in history. Although stripped of her title over use of a banned substance, her dominance has been staggering. With just one loss in her career, if she can return clean, her influence on women’s MMA is likely to remain substantial.
She also has a perfect record in kickboxing, and only one loss in submission grappling. She has earned two gold medals in world jiu-jitsu, and one bronze in submission wrestling.
Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, author of Banned From The Internet