Top 10 female UFC fighters of all-time

Top 10 female UFC fighters of all-time

Over the last 25 years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has grown exponentially into a worldwide mixed martial arts powerhouse. For much of that time men led the charge and were the predominant gender of note in the organization. However, over the last decade, women’s MMA has become an equal part in pushing the brand to new heights socially.

All female MMA fighters deserve credit in that, but an elite few have stood above the rest as not just the best UFC women fighters, but as some of the best UFC fighters of all time in any gender. Since the flyweight and strawweight titles were recently defended at UFC 261, it seemed like a good time to revisit who are the top-10 female UFC fighters of all time, in all its subjective and controversial glory.

10. Germanine De Randamie

This pick may stir up some hate from the MMA fan mob because Germaine De Randamie’s 10-4 record, at first glance, seems unbecoming of an all-time great. However, look deeper fight fan and you will see an impressive resume. “The Iron Lady” has had two losses during her nine-fight run in the promotion. Those came against women’s MMA deity Amanda Nunes. That says all you need to know about the Dutch striking ace and what it takes to beat her at this level. She’s headlined two events, won the featherweight title and earned finishes in more than half of her Octagon wins.

  • Germaine De Randamie UFC record: 7-2 (two main events)

Many great fighters–even at the UFC level–have losses that make you scratch your head. De Randamie doesn’t. Even in her second setback to “Lioness” her striking had become so dangerous that the Brazilian legend went full wrestler mode to secure a decision win. Unlike her title win over Holly Holm, there’s no controversy in De Randamie’s placement on this list. The biggest knock on the talented kickboxer’s run was hard-to-deny avoidance of facing Cris Justino for her new belt in 2017.

9. Zhang Weili

In a few years the 31-year-old Zhang Weili (or Weili Zhang, however you prefer to say it) could be higher on this list. But to still be an all-time talent in just six UFC fights says a ton about the spectacular talent she has. She won the UFC strawweight title after four bouts in the Octagon and in the midst of a 20-fight win streak.

  • Zhang Weili UFC record: 5-1 (one main event)

“Fury” then followed that up by putting on one of the best fights these eyes have ever seen against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first title defense. A name you will see later in this list. Yes, Zhang lost her second defense in grand fashion, but being 21-2, a former UFC titleholder, and the biggest MMA import from China gets you on the list easily.

8. Holly Holm

No other fighter on this list is more defined by one moment than Holly Holm. Her definitive victory over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 was a legitimate paradigm shift in the industry. Out was the era of “Bad Reputation” intro music, mean-mugging, and Rousey’s dominance. In was a chance for every other talent to go after the brass ring of being the new face for female fighters in the promotion.

  • Holly Holm UFC record: 7-5 (six main events)

It’s not to say that “The Preacher’s Daughter” did not have many pivotal moments while headlining events in half of her Octagon appearances. She certainly did, but her thunderous head kick that stopped the unstoppable force was a historic highlight-reel moment that still reverberates six years later.

7. Jessica Andrade

What makes Jessica Andrade’s UFC run so impressive, is the 5’1″ future strawweight champion’s first seven Octagon appearances were 20 pounds up at bantamweight. The reason being was because flyweight didn’t exist at the time, and she and her team were unsure if she could make the weight. Once they found the alchemy needed for her to reach 115 pounds safely, she was a wrecking ball that won seven of eight in route to ending Rose Namajunas‘ first reign as champion.

  • Jessica Andrade UFC record: 12-7 (two main events)

Although her own reign was short-lived when she lost our lists #9, her rematch with Namajunas was a split-decision defeat where she took “Thug Rose” to the brink once again. Furthermore, she recently contended for a second division title at UFC 261, where she came up short to one of the best to ever do it in Valentina Shevchenko. Over the last five years, only women on this list (most of them ahead of her) have been able to slow down the Brazilian power puncher that is “Bate Estaca.” She’s a Brazilian MMA female fighter and Brazilian female UFC fighter all-timer.

6. Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino

If this were a list based purely on the total tapestry of a fighter’s career, Cris “Cyborg” Justino would be top-three. She is top two- in best Brazilian MMA female fighters ever and her total resume makes her one of the best female MMA fighters alive. However, since it is a UFC-specific ranking, the Godzilla of women’s MMA falls back to the sixth spot despite her came-later-than-we-wanted run in the organization not disappointing.

  • Cris Cyborg UFC record: 6-1 (three main events)

She wrecked house in classic “Cyborg” finishing fashion in four of her six wins and was a part of a historic title defense loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 240. However, as has always been the case for the Brazilian great, her resume is harder to stack up against her legendary contemporaries. Her marque win in the UFC came against #8 talent Holly Holm, after that, it’s a solid hit-list but not one that breaks her into the top five.

5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

The first in the top 5 best MMA women ever in the UFC is Joanna Jedrzejczyk:

If not for losing four of her last six (all to women on this list) Joanna Jedrzejczyk is one of the top-three female UFC fighters of all time. Maybe even top two. Not just for her resume that includes noteworthy wins over talented fighters like Cláudia Gadelha twice, Carla Esparza, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Jéssica Andrade, and Michelle Waterson, but she became the successful news face for women in the UFC when Rousey was taken down by Holm.

  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk UFC record: 10-4 (three main events)

On the biggest stage, and in five title defenses, she displayed world-class striking and an all-around MMA game that proved the ladies could do it just as well as the gents, and in her case, better than many of the gents. In terms of progressing women’s fighting in the eyes of fans around the world, Poland’s first greatest export to the UFC is a worthy candidate for a hypothetical ladies MMA Mount Rushmore.

4. Rose Namajunas

While Rose Namajunas may not have the historical relevance on her name like Jedrzejczyk, she still beat the woman that woman with historical relevance on her name twice. And once by technical knockout. That can’t be understated. Also, her last two Octagon victories came against this lists #10 (by knockout) and #7, and she is the only woman in UFC history to win a division’s title twice.

  • Rose Namajunas UFC record: 8-3 (three main events)

However, the most mind-blowing fact is that “Thug Rose” is just 28-years-old and continues to get better. She has overcome the mental hurdles that curtailed her first title run. And now has one of the strongest mental games in the sport and a striking style that is top-shelf. She has everything it takes to eventually crack the top-three of best female UFC fighters of all time.

female UFC fighters
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

3. Ronda Rousey

No individual has had a greater influence on today’s current state of women’s MMA in the UFC than Ronda Rousey. Full stop. She made UFC president Dana White a believer in the monetary upside of women fighting in the UFC, and she helped to further the brand in the mainstream. Aside from her incomparable relevance on the business side of the sport, she was a must-see talent during her entire run in the promotion.

  • Ronda Rousey UFC record: 6-2 (six main events)

All of her Octagon appearances were title fights. She scored finishes in all six of her wins, and five times in the first round. Even her losses were epic. As she was finished by strikes in both and helped catapult Holm and Nunes into MMA superstardom. However, having no wins against fighters of a similar elite status precludes her from snagging one of the top two spots.

2. Valentina Shevchenko

In a world where Amanda Nunes does not exist, Valentina Shevchenko is the best female UFC fighter to ever compete in the Octagon. The Kyrgyzstan native is one of the most gifted strikers to ever grace a UFC card, male or female. However, she is just as gifted a grappler and put that on full display in a dominant win over our #7 at UFC 261. She is one of the most complete fighters on the entire roster. Heck, “Bullet” has barely even lost a round over the last three years.

  • Valentina Shevchenko UFC record: 6-1

Yet, there is one hold up in her owning the top spot. Two very close losses to Nunes. Skill for skill, you could maybe make the case that Shevchenko is better than her Brazilian rival. But when it came time to prove it, Nunes put everything together better–including in-fight strategy–and bested Shevchenko each time. Nevertheless, the current UFC flyweight champion is second to only one as one of the greatest female UFC fighters of all time.

1. Amanda Nunes

You knew it was coming. The most anti-climactic #1 in MMA and UFC list history. There really is no other option, and it was the easiest choice to make in deciding who is the best female to ever step in the Octagon. Amanda Nunes has defeated a who’s who of UFC greats. De Randamie (twice), Holm, “Cyborg,” Rousey, and Shevchenko (twice). Even her lesser wins over Miesha Tate and Raquel Pennington hold serious weight in the industry.

  • Amanda Nunes UFC record: 6-1

“Lioness” has finished opponents in 81% of her career wins, is the only two-division champion in women’s UFC history and has competed in nine straight title fights and counting. She’s not just the greatest Brazilian female UFC fighter. Not just one of the best female MMA fighters ever. She’s the greatest female combat sports athlete of all time and is the undisputed top-dog on the list of best female UFC fighters that have walked planet earth.

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