What is women’s MMA?
Women's MMA (mixed martial arts) is a fighting sport in which female athletes train and fight each other using various martial arts fighting styles. MMA fighting styles include Boxing, Ju Jitsu, Karate and wrestling among many fighting styles from all over the world.
Popularity in female MMA is on the rise. Top fighters including the likes of Ronda Rousey, Amanda Nunes and Gina Carano continue to make headlines and inspire more women to get involved.
In this post, you’ll find out everything you need to know about women’s MMA. That includes the top fighters, the prizes, the salaries and more...
Who are the best women's MMA fighters?
There are so many factors when it comes to determining the best woman’s MMA fighter that it’s difficult to say. However, ESPN currently lists the following female martial artists pound for pound as the top ten female MMA fighters in the world…
What are the weight classes for women’s MMA?
Like all fighting sports, it’s important that competitors face opponents of a similar size to ensure a fair fight. The UFC is the most widely known MMA organisation, and there are currently four weight classes in which female athletes can compete. 2012 - 2013 saw the first real uptake of women in the UFC. In 2013, 11 female fighters were contracted to fight in the newest strawweight division.
The strawweight division is the lowest weight class in the UFC. There is no minimum weight limit, but the maximum weight limit is a mere 52.2 kg.
This class is the next one up from strawweight. The minimum weight limit in the flyweight division is 52.2 kg’s, and the maximum limit is 56.7 kg’s, which is still a very small weight limit. Fighters in this division are usually around 5 foot tall.
With a minimum weight limit of 61.2kg and a maximum of 65.8kg, bantamweights are the equivalents of the middleweight/light-heavyweights of the men’s UFC world. Being a little heavier than other classes, the average fighter heights sit around 5 foot 7 inches.
The featherweight division is the heaviest weight division in the women's UFC. The lower weight limit is 61.2kg, and the upper weight limit is 65.8kg. The average height of fighters in this class is around 5 foot 7 inches.
UK Female UFC Winners
Molly McCann from Liverpool was the first English female MMA fighter to claim a UFC victory in the octagon. Her winning fight took place in London. It was Molly McCann’s 2nd UFC appearance, and she faced Brazillian fighter Priscila Cachoeira, also known as “Zombie Girl”.
After fighting through a dangerous eye injury she received in the third round, the flyweight ultimate fighter managed to take home the victory. The score was extremely close, but the 29-28 points decision cemented her place in history as the first English female mixed martial artist to experience victory in the UFC.
Here are some of Molly’s MMA highlights…
First Female UFC Fighter
In November 2012, Ronda Rousey was the first ever female fighter signed to the UFC. Taking a bronze medal in the 2008 summer Olympics, Ronda was also the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in Judo.
Her success kickstarted her career into MMA where she won her debut fight for King of the Cage and moved on to become the champion bantamweight fighter in Strikeforce, an MMA organisation which was purchased by the UFC in 2011.
After Strikeforce was taken over by the UFC, Ronda was given the title UFC bantamweight champion before having competed in any UFC fights. She did manage to win her first fight against Liz Carmouche though, defending her title. Unfortunately, she lost her title to Holly Holm after setting the women’s UFC record of 6 title defences.
Considered as one of the most influential athletes of all time, Ronda has also had a career in the WWE and as an actress in major Hollywood films.
How much do female UFC fighters make?
Professional female fighters salaries are based on various different factors, mainly depending on their performance and their influence. Their money comes from a mix of sponsorships, endorsements and prize money.
According to this article, the highest paid female UFC fighter is Amanda Nunes, who’s raking in a whopping $700,000 (£540,000) a year. Molly McCann from the UK on the other hand, comes in dead last, earning a measly $11,500 (£9,000). So, as you can see, there's a big difference. It is, however, a great step for women fighters that Amanda Nunes holds a place in the top twenty highest paid athletes in the UFC. It’s not through lack of trying though, she ranks in the top 10 MMA fighters in terms of her track record (The list includes top female and male fighters).
Best women’s MMA fights in history
In recent years there has been a huge increase in the amount of attention on women’s fights. Luckily for you, the UFC official website has put together a list of the top women's MMA fights in UFC history. You can read it here. I've also included a brief description of each fight in the following list to make it easier for you.
1. Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche
This bout mentioned earlier was Roda Rousey’s debut UFC fight. After a fierce competition, Ronda took the win and defended her title.
2. Cat Zingano vs Miesha Tate
Regarded as one of the most intense and emotional women’s UFC bouts of all time, this Las Vegas scrap is a great watch from start to finish.
3. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Claudia Gadelha
This historic fight was incredibly close and the start of an intense rivalry between the two fighters.
4. Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey
Again mentioned earlier in the post, this is the fight where Holly Holm broke Ronda Rousey’s heart, defeating her and ending her record 6 title defence streak.
5. Miesha Tate vs Holly Holm
After losing for pretty much the entire bout, Miesha Tate managed to pin Holly Holms from behind and take the win. This is an intense underdog story of a fight.
6. Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko
This was a controversial bout as the pair battled tirelessly for three rounds and Nunes won on points. Although, many reporters noticed how tired Nunes had become and suggested the outcome might have been different if it was a five round fight.
7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Claudia Gadelha 2
The heated rivalry between these two athletes exploded in the octagon as one of the greatest women’s MMA bouts of all time. Jedrzejczyk proved complete control throughout the fight though and managed to take home the victory with a unanimous decision from the judges.
8. Jessica Andrade vs Angela Hill
Regarded as one of the most high energy women’s MMA bouts of all time, both Jessica and Angela came out swinging and didn’t let in until Jessica Andrade took the win after 15 minutes of ultimate fighting.
9. Marion Reneau vs Sara McMann
This insane bout was like two completely different fights in one. In the first round, McMann had Marion completely on the back foot from start to finish. In the second round, however, Marion managed to pin McMann Until she was forced to tap out.
10. Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk
After people questioned her true ability when she defeated a less than fighting fit Jedrzejczyk in the strawweight division, Rose defended her title and defeated Jedrzejczyk again to prove herself and her position in the division.
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