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Women’s UFC Pound-for-pound rankings: The bantamweight champion rises in this week's top-10

UFC pound-for-pound rankings

Dec 11, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Julianna Pena celebrates her victory by submission against Amanda Nunes during UFC 269 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC pound-for-pound rankings define the very best fighters in the promotion and the planet. It's a list filled with the most skilled, strategically brilliant, and battle-tested fighters that sport has to offer. It’s also a list that is heavily debated and as subjective a topic that exists in the MMA realm. And it's no different when deciding the best of the best in either gender.

With that said, here are the official women's UFC pound-for-pound rankings.

Women's UFC pound-for-pound rankings

10. MacKenzie Dern (11-2)

Although MacKenzie Dern came up short in her main event opportunity against -- the seventh-ranked woman on this list -- Marina Rodriquez in October, there is no doubting her talents. She recently won four straight fights dominantly, is still an improving 28-year-old, and contender in the best division in women's MMA. That is worthy of a pound-for-pound spot.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

9. Katlyn Chookagian (16-4)

UFC pound-for-pound rankings

May 14, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Katlyn Chookagian during weigh ins for UFC 262 at George R Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Katlyn Chookagian may not be lighting the MMA world on fire with thunderous knockouts or slick submissions, but there aren't many fighters on the lady's side of the bracket that has been more consistent than the Pennsylvania native in recent years. Over the last two years, her only losses have come to a former and current champion in Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade. "Blonde Fighter" is a legit high-level competitor in the UFC, and currently a free agent following the completion of her deal with a rematch win over Jennifer Maia at UFC Vegas 46.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

8. Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2)

Marina Rodriguez is the next best Brazilian thing in the UFC's strawweight division. By beating MacKenzie Dern in her last bout -- a second straight main event booking -- she has fully taken the mantel from Claudia Gadelha as the division's top star from the South American MMA hotbed. She is only behind champion Rose Namajunas, Zhang Weili, and Carla Esparza in the rankings. A title eliminator rematch against Esparza seems logical unless the UFC likes what they have seen so far, and let the 34-year-old jump ahead to face the Namajunas/Zhang rematch winner after UFC 268.

  • Next fight: vs Yan Xionan at UFC 272

7. Julianna Pena (11-4)

When you shockingly beat the women's MMA GOAT after being a historically massive underdog, you certainly deserve a spot in the pound-for-pound top 10. Julianna Pena'sUFC 269 victory over Amanda Nunes will go down as one of the great upsets in MMA history. Especially since the dominant wrestler used her fists to beat one of the greatest female strikers in UFC history. A rematch between the two is sure to come next.

Next fight: Waiting for next booking

6. Carla Esparza (18-6)

Carla Esparza is in the midst of her best run in the organization since becoming their first strawweight champion after winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 20. After being overlooked a couple of times for a title opportunity in recent years, the dominant 115-pound wrestler seems in line for a long-awaited rematch with champion Rose Namajunas at some point in the first half of 2022.

  • Next fight: Expected to face Rose Namajunas later this year

5. Jessica Andrade (22-9)

Losing three of your last five shouldn't earn a spot this high, but Jessica Andrade's losses are to former champions in Zhang Weili, a close split decision to current queen Namajunas -- who she beat previously -- and a setback to Shevchenko. All women on this list. Suffice to say, it takes an elite talent to beat "Bate Estaca," because her skills are an absolute handful if you aren't a championship-level talent. In April she will return to strawweight to face top-10 talent, Amanda Lemos.

  • Next fight: vs. Amanda Lemos (April 23)

4. Zhang Weili (21-3)

UFC pound-for-pound rankings

Mar 7, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Weili Zhang (red gloves) looks on before her bout against Joanna Jedrzejczyk (blue gloves) during UFC 248 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Zhang Weili had a 21-fight run of dominance in MMA until she stepped into the Octagon with Namajuans at UFC 261 in April. That run of utter superiority can't be forgotten. "Magnum" has a bunch of finishes on her resume and took part in a landmark women's MMA moment against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March of 2020. Her back-to-back losses to division queen Namajunas are setbacks, but she still remains one of the top female fighters in the sport.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

3. Rose Namajunas (11-4)

Rose Namajunas is one of the most skilled strikers the 115-pound division has ever seen. And her victories over Zhang [twice], Jedrzejczyk [twice], and Andrade have proven that. Avenging her 2014 The Ultimate Fighter finale loss to former division champion Carla Esparza seems to be the plan for the first half of 2022.

  • Next fight: Expected to face Carla Esparza later this year

2. Amanda Nunes (21-5)

Amanda Nunes is the best there is, the best there was, and maybe the best there ever will be when it comes to women's MMA. She's beaten a murder's row of talent and rarely has seen a difficult moment in the Octagon. Like Valentina Shevchenko, there didn't seem to be any real tests on the horizon. That was until Julianna Pena shocked the world at UFC 269 and handed the GOAT an L. How the former two-division champion bounces back from her first loss in six years will be interesting to watch,

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

1. Valentina Shevchenko (22-3)

Valentina Shevchenko is an MMA marvel. Her run of destruction in the women's flyweight division is akin to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones at the peak of their powers at middleweight and light heavyweight, respectively. She is head and shoulders above the entire division and 2022 may go by before the UFC finds an actual threat to her throne. The only thing that can stop "Bullet" right now would be a career-threatening injury, but after Amanda Nunes' recent defeat we once again learned unexpected things can happen in this unpredictable sport.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking