It seems like forever ago… Ronda Rousey was the undisputed baddest woman on the planet. Strutting out to the octagon, Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’ blaring throughout the arena…the outcome a foregone conclusion. After Dana White famously said women would “never” fight in the UFC, Rousey set out to prove him wrong. She would wind up fighting Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157, 11 months after winning the Women’s Bantamweight title in Strikeforce.
Following a thrilling debut, Rousey would quickly become one of the UFC’s hottest and most marketable stars. She was this beautiful woman that made quick work of any woman put in her way. None of her next five fights, all wins, would make it out of the first round – two lasted less than 20 seconds! Not only had she made White eat his words, she had turned into one of his most prized assets.
Mixed Martial Arts has evolved over time... Rousey did not. Armed with a prized judo background, she relied exclusively on her ability to clinch, execute a hip throw on her helpless opponent and then crank on their arm until they tapped out. Her coach claims to have vastly improved her striking, but her shortcomings were exposed in her final two fights, both devastating losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.
While she has yet to officially announce her retirement, Rousey is not expected to fight again. But UFC fans clamouring for a Rousey return (very few at this point) should take note of the other female fighters a part of the promotion – not only are there fighters much more talented and well rounded than Ronda Rousey… they are also more attractive. Take a look!
15 Paige VanZant
Coming off two consecutive losses, the beautiful VanZant is desperately in need of a win to reestablish herself in women’s MMA. A recent move to flyweight should help her achieve that. VanZant is 1-3 in her last 4 fights and her most recent one, against Jessica-Rose Clark resulted in a loss…as well as a broken arm in the first round. Despite knowing her arm was fractured, she finished the fight. The result notwithstanding, you have to admire VanZant’s courage and toughness given the circumstances.
She now faces a lengthy recovery process and once fully healed, her next fight will be close to a must win. At 7-4, a string of wins is crucial for her career; otherwise, she may go the way of Rousey and be looking for a new passion. A charming, lovely, and beautiful fighter, we should all be rooting for her to right the ship.
14 Gina Carano
Carano was, in a way, Rousey before Ronda was. She was once viewed as an unstoppable force in women’s MMA. That was before she would lose to the newly crowned Queen of Queens, Cris Cyborg.
Carano owns a professional record of 7-1, but following her loss to Cyborg, she left the fight game behind. There was a failed attempt in 2014 to book a fight with Ronda, and outside of that Carano has shown little to no interest in resuming a career many felt she gave up on too early. She has made several appearances in film and TV, including appearances in two instalments of the Fast & Furious franchise as well as Deadpool.
13 Rose Namajunas
From the former to PRESENT strawweight queen, Namajunas stunned the world back in October when she defeated Jedrzejczyk in the first round of their championship bout. Many felt Namajunas, while supremely talented, was not ready to usurp Joanna. However, Rose believed in herself and that’s all that mattered in the end. Sporting a G.I. Jane style buzz cut, she stared down the champ stoically the day before the fight in what Joe Rogan called one of the craziest moments he’s ever witnessed in his time covering the fight game. While Joanna stood in front of her, regaling her with ‘boogey woman’ nightmares, Namajunas did not move or blink…she stood, stone-faced, reciting the Lord’s Prayer. It truly was one of the coolest stare down moments I’ve ever witnessed. The duties of a fighting champion now await her.
12 Felice Herrig
Do I really need to write a blurb justifying Herrig’s attractiveness and MMA prowess? Ok…on the attractive side of things, please refer to the photo…I rest my case. As for the MMA itself, Herrig is 14-6 all-time and has won her last four fights in the UFC. She sits as the #9 ranked women in the strawweight division and appears poised to make a title run. A victory over Karolina Kowalkiewicz (scheduled for April 2018) will go a long way in getting Dana White’s attention.
Herrig’s UFC career began with The Ultimate Fighter. She would make it to the quarterfinals before losing to Randa Markos via submission. Despite the loss, Herrig was now on the UFC’s radar. Prior to pursuing a career in MMA, Herrig was an accomplished kickboxer and holds a professional record of 23-5.
11 Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko is as decorated a fighter as you’ll find. Before entering the MMA realm, she competed in Kickboxing, Muay Thai and K-1 and had unparalleled success in all of them. When you watch her in the octagon, her style and preciseness in her striking is scary good.
Apart from Amanda Nunes, who owns two victories over her, Shevchenko has been utterly unbeatable – her last defeat to an opponent other than Nunes coming back in 2010. As accomplished a striker as Shevchenko is, she is a fully capable submission artist. She feels as though she was hard done by her last fight’s result, a split decision loss to Nunes, and wants retribution. She likely faces a ‘tune-up’ fight before a rematch, but one should fully expect Shevchenko to face Nunes for the third time in the near future.
10 Cat Zingano
Back in 2013, with the birth of her son, Zingano became the first mother to compete in the UFC. That’s right… MMA got its first milf. She’s has had quite the career, at the age of 35. For one, her husband took his own life back in 2014 causing a lot of turmoil in her personal life.
Zingano is the first woman on this list who actually fought Rousey – a fight that lasted all of 0:14 seconds (Rousey submission victory). Zingano’s next fight came over a year after that, against Julianna Pena. She would suffer a unanimous decision defeat in that bout, bringing her record to 9-2. Zingano has not fought since but is scheduled to fight in March 2018. She owns notable victories against current bantamweight titleholder, Amanda Nunes and former bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, beating both of them via TKO. Zingano is no joke, and neither is her body – way to lose the baby weight Cat!
9 Joanna Jedrzejczyk
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The NOW FORMER strawweight queen had the opportunity to break Rousey’s title defense record in her last fight but came up short. Despite suffering a devastating loss to Rose Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk remains one of the UFC’s baddest, boldest, and most beautiful female fighters. She will no doubt return to title contention in the future, once she fully recovers from her first professional defeat. Unlike Rousey, Joanna boasts a dynamically well-rounded skillset. Many experts, including Joe Rogan, have called her the best striker in the UFC – and that includes men!
Some question how many fights she has left in her, especially considering the undefeated dream no longer being attainable. Having said that, she is too much of a competitor to go out on a low note, so expect her to come back with a vengeance looking to reclaim the belt she feels belongs to her.
8 Bec Rawlings
Rawlings owns an MMA record of 7 wins and 7 losses, not exactly a stellar fight resume. Having said that, this list is about attractiveness and Rawlings has that in spades! She comes off as sort of a punk rocker not afraid to voice her opinions on any matter. Raised in Tasmania, Rawlings was always a tomboy of sorts, playing sports with boys and holding her own throughout.
While her record won’t get her much attention, she, unlike Rousey, has never shied away from a fight – Rousey ducked Cyborg for years! Fighting is a hard way to make a living and Bec Rawlings comes to fight each time she’s slated for an octagon appearance. There is no dancing or ‘feeling out’ process with her…she comes out of her corner guns a blazing. She’s tough as nails having only been KO’d once in her UFC career.
7 Alexa Grasso
Grasso’s UFC career is only three fights old, but she still holds an overall professional record of 10-1. Her time in Invicta saw her receive both performance & fight of the night awards for her fights against Mizuki Inoue and Jodie Esquibel. Grasso’s conservative style results in a lot of decisions, her last non-decision bout coming back in 2014.
More recently, she underwent surgery to repair a damaged meniscus casting an ambiguous shadow over her short-term future. Competing in the strawweight division, Grasso has a tall mountain to ascend if he wishes to challenge for Namajunas’ title. Whether she ever ascends to the top or not, Grasso will always be an attractive fighter and that’s got to count for something!
6 Michelle Waterson
First off, Waterson’s Instagram handle deserves recognition (@karatehottie). Bravo! Waterson’s MMA record stands at 14-6, but in the UFC she is 2-2 having lost her last two bouts. Presently, it is unknown when her next fight will be as she recently fought in December, a decision loss to Tecia Torres. She was recently a competitor on MTV’s The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars. She would wind up making it to the final episode, but the Stars would ultimately succumb to the more ‘Challenge experienced’ Champs.
At 5-3, fighting at 115 lbs (strawweight), Waterson is small but certainly not to be f***ed with. She is a black belt in American Free Style Karate. Her skillset also includes experience in WuShu, Muay Thai, BJJ, boxing, and wrestling. She actually started out as a ring girl, eventually transitioning to a fighter, and credits MMA fighter Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone for aiding her in the transition. Waterson never fought at an amateur level before turning pro.
5 Karolina Kowalkiewicz
The #4 ranked strawweight Kowalkiewicz rebounded after two straight losses with a victory over Jodie Esquibel back in October. If she is able to beat Felice Herrig, she should see another title shot in the near future.
Kowalkiewicz began training in MMA at 16. She began fighting in her native country, Poland before ultimately signing with the UFC. Holding a victory over current champion Rose Namajunas, Kowalkiewicz is no joke inside the octagon. Her next fight, a title shot against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk would end in defeat but once again, showcased her as a legitimate title contender in the division. Look for KK to continue hanging around the top of the strawweight rankings, eventually pouncing on her next opportunity at the title. She might just get it the second time around!
4 Montana De La Rosa
De La Rosa was a competitor on TUF 26, ultimately losing in the finale. She is married to fellow fighter Mark De La Rosa. The two have quite the story together. Montana gave birth to her daughter at the age of 15. Raising her daughter without a father figure caught the eye of Mark, who eventually stepped in and developed a relationship with both Montana and Zaylyn, her daughter – Zaylyn is now a Texas state wrestling champion. Pays to have parents in MMA eh?
Both of their careers have had their ups and downs, but neither have wavered in their commitment to be the best. They both share the belief that family trumps all and it is that mindset that has allowed them to both have quality fight careers while raising a child. Hard not to root for the De La Rosas!
3 Cynthia Calvillo
Calvillo is a member of Team Alpha Male, and trains almost exclusively with men. She stormed onto the UFC stage, winning her first three fights. Her most recent bout however, against Carla Esparza was a somewhat controversial decision loss. Don’t expect it to hold her back. Calvillo is an accomplished fighter and pushes the pace in all her fights. Not afraid to take risks, her fights are amongst the most entertaining the sport has to offer.
When she’s not in the cage, Calvillo is a bombshell beauty – when she’s in fight mode, she looks like an unforgiving beast. Look for her to get back on her horse in 2018 and make a run at the title. The strawweight has plenty of hurdles to leap over, but Calvillo has the skillset to do it.
2 Holly Holm
If Rousey was an attractive female before her fight with Holly Holm, she undoubtedly got a tad uglier following the contest. After all, taking a devastating kick to the head will knock anybody down a peg in the looks department.
The Preacher’s Daughter, Holm burst onto the UFC scene and took down the G.O.A.T. Her striking prowess is unrivalled. The only blemish on Holm's resume is her ground game, an area she continues to show incompetence in her attempts to improve. She suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Miesha Tate, losing the bantamweight title as a result. Her latest fight saw her lose to Cris Cyborg, to drop to 4-4 in the UFC. In her last four fights, Holm owns a 1-3 record making her next fight crucially important towards her standing amongst the promotion’s elite women fighters. She needs to become a more well-rounded fighter.
1 Miesha Tate
Rousey’s biggest rival her whole career. Miesha Tate was always the likeable one in the rivalry, offering praise to Rousey, none of which was ever reciprocated. Rousey even went so far to turn away from Tate when she offered to shake Rousey’s hand after being submitted by her. Few would’ve predicted Tate lasting longer than Rousey, but that’s exactly what happened – Tate actually going on to beat Holm for the title via rear-naked choke.
On top of physically sparring with each other throughout their respective careers, Tate & Rousey routinely exchanged verbal jabs as well. Even having gone 0-2 head-to-head, it’s easy to make the case that Tate had the overall better fighting career when you factor in longevity and her ability to evolve with the times. It is the latter reality that was Rousey’s ultimate downfall.