In 2012, when UFC was just shy of its 20th birthday, Dana White made history by revealing that the promotion would expand to feature female mixed martial arts for the first time. In making the announcement, White also identified UFC’s first female fighter: a still relatively unknown Olympic bronze medalist in judo by the name of Ronda Rousey.
Rousey eventually went on to become UFC’s first female champion, a reign that lasted over 1,000 days and weathered rivalries with the likes of Miesha Tate and Bethe Correia, before coming to an end at the hands (or, rather, the foot) of her fight with Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November 2015.
Rousey rightfully deserves credit for popularizing the UFC’s women’s division. Her unprecedented run at the top transcended the sport and catapulted her to celebrity status beyond even the likes of Conor McGregor or Chuck Liddell. Now she does movies, like the upcoming Roadhouse remake. (Yeah, they’re remaking Roadhouse, for some reason.) But as Rousey’s UFC career fades, dozens more are popping up in the hope of leading women’s MMA into a new era.
If you think that just because that there are only three weight divisions in women's UFC, the fighting is somehow less intense than on the men’s side, consider that strawweight fighter Justine Kish recently pooped herself while trying to break free from a rear-naked choke at the hands of Felice Herrig on one fateful night in Oklahoma City. Look, I know OKC isn’t exactly known for its rich regional cuisine, but perhaps the Chili Cheese Coney from the Will Rogers Airport Sonic wasn’t the ideal pre-match meal. Just saying.
Regardless, what’s clear is that the talent pool in the UFC’s womens’ division stretches far deeper than just the household names. Let’s take a look at the current best female UFC fighters by weight class division.