20 Women MMA Fighters That Are Unstoppable

20 Women MMA Fighters That Are Unstoppable

In a sport that was once dominated by men, women MMA fighters are starting to draw some huge crowds and boast large fanbases. Women have risen to prominence in the sport over the past eight years and today there are multiple promotions accepting women MMA fighters. 

As early as a decade ago, women were struggling to make a name for themselves in the MMA community. In fact, UFC president Dana White was asked in a 2011 interview when women would fight in the UFC and he replied ‘never.’ Of course, that ‘never’ wouldn’t last very long. 

Two years after uttering that famous one-word answer, White retracted the statement by signing Ronda Rousey as the first ever female fighter in the UFC. While women have been in the MMA for over a decade prior to this moment, it was a major turning point for women in the sport.  

RELATED: 20 Best UFC Fighters of All-Time

Who Are the Top Women MMA Fighters Today?

20 Women MMA Fighters That Are Unstoppable
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Ronda Rousey retired from MMA in 2018 as one of the greatest of all-time, meaning she won’t be featured on our list of the top women MMA fighters today. She did, however, inspire and influence a lot of today’s top women MMA fighters and that has to stand for something, right? 

With that said, there are plenty of women MMA fighters that are extremely difficult to beat on any given night and they come from a wide range of promotions – including the UFC, Invicta FC, Bellator, PFL, JEWELS, Rizin FF, and more. You don’t have to be in the UFC to be unstoppable.

As we count down our list of the 20 best women MMA fighters in 2022, we’re going to focus on women that have fought at least once in their division in the past 18 months. We’ll be choosing from the featherweight, bantamweight, flyweight, strawweight, and atomweight divisions. 

20. Ketlen Vieira

Country: Brazil

Nickname: Fenomeno

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 12-2-0

Ketlen Vieira started her career 6-0 under the Mr. Cage and Big Way Fight Night promotions. She eventually won the Mr. Cage bantamweight title before grabbing the attention of Dana White and the UFC. They signed her to a contract and mader her UFC debut in October 2016. 

She won her first four fights in the UFC, including wins against Cat Zingano and Sara McMann. While she’s just 2-2 since, she most recently defeated Miesha Tate in November 2021. She continues to climb the ranks of the bantamweight division and has a bright career ahead of her.

19. Alesha Zappitella

Country: United States

Nickname: Half Pint

Promotion: Invicta Fighting Championships

MMA Record: 9-2-0 (1 NC)

Alesha Zappitella started her career 3-0-0 (1 NC) before grabbing the attention of Invicta FC, where she has spent her entire career thus far. She made her Invicta debut in October 2016 and won her first two fights before suffering back-to-back defeats in 2019, bringing her to 5-2-0. 

Since that disappointing 2019 campaign, Zappitella has won four straight fights. In that time, she won the Invicta Atomweight title and has already defended the title once. She’s scheduled for her second title defense in a rematch against Jessica Delboni, who she defeated in May 2021. 

18. Marina Rodriguez

Country: Brazil

Nickname: n/a

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 15-1-2

Marina Rodriguez started her career 8-0-0 before grabbing the attention of Dana White. She was featured in Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil 2 in 2018, defeating Maria Oliveira before officially signing a contract with the UFC. She made her UFC debut in September 2018

Her debut ended in a draw, but she won her next two fights against Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres. After facing her second draw and a disappointing defeat against Carla Esparza, she has won her past three fights – including a victory against all-time great Michelle Waterson. 

17. Taila Santos

Country: Brazil

Nickname: n/a

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 19-1-0

Taila Santos started her career 14-0-0 before taking a two-year hiatus from fighting. In August 2018, she received an invite to Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil 2 and defeated Estefani Almeida. Upon her victory, Santos earned a UFC contract and made her debut in early 2019. 

After losing her debut fight to Mara Romero Borella, Santos has won her past four fights – including wins against Molly McCann, Gillian Robertson, Roxanne Modafferi, and Joanne Wood. She’ll continue to fight bigger names as she makes a name for herself in the UFC world. 

16. Norma Dumont Viana

Country: Brazil

Nickname: The Immortal

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 7-1-0

Norma Dumont Viana started her career 4-0-0 in Brazil, which included two submissions in the first round. She impressed Dana White and the UFC enough to sign a contract with the promotion. She eventually made her UFC debut in February 2020 against Megan Anderson. 

Since her debut loss, Dumont has won her past three fights against Ashlee Evans-Smith, Felicia Spencer, and Aspen Ladd. If she can continue this streak she’s on, it won’t be long until she sees some big-name fights. She’s a fighter I can see winning a featherweight title at some point. 

15. Carla Esparza

Country: United States

Nickname: Cookie Monster

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 18-6-0

Carla Esparza started her career 9-2-0, spending most of her early career with Bellator and Invicta FC. With the UFC adding the strawweight division, Esparza was featured on The Ultimate Fighter 20 to determine the inaugural strawweight champion, which she won in 2014.

While she lost the title in her next fight and went 3-4 over the next three years, Esparza has won her past five fights and is working her way back to title contention. She’s coming off a KO/TKO win against Xiaonan Yan on May 22, 2021, which earned her the Performance of the Night. 

14. Holly Holm

Country: United States

Nickname: The Preacher’s Daughter

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 14-5-0

Holly Holm had a successful kickboxing and boxing career before joining the MMA community. She spent time with Bellator and Legacy Fighting Championship before signing on with the UFC in 2014. At the time, she was 7-0-0 and six of those victories came by way of knockout or TKO.

Once she entered the UFC, Holm won her first three fights and won the bantamweight title in an upset against Ronda Rousey. She failed to defend the title, is 4-5-0 since her title win, and has lost three straight opportunities at another title. Still, she’s one of the most lethal kickers in MMA.

13. Julia Budd

Country: Canada

Nickname: The Jewel

Promotion: Professional Fighters League

MMA Record: 16-3-0

Julia Budd started her career with Strikeforce and went 2-2-0 in her first four fights, which included losses to Amanda Nunes and Ronda Rousey before the UFC was a thing. She then went 4-0-0 in the Invicta FC before signing with Bellator, where she spent most of her career.

With Bellator, Budd won her first seven fights and was the inaugural featherweight champion in 2017 after defeating veteran Marloes Coenen. She defended her title three times before losing it to Cris Cyborg. Since her defeat, she’s 3-0 and now fights in the Professional Fighters League.

12. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane 

Country: United States

Nickname: The Ilimanator

Promotion: Bellator

MMA Record: 11-1-0

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane started her career 5-0-0 as an amateur before winning her pro debut with Xplode Fight Series. After the bout, she signed a contract with Bellator and has been with the promotion ever since. She has completely dominated the Bellator women’s flyweight division. 

After winning her first five fights with Bellator, Macfarlane won the inaugural flyweight title against Emily Ducote – her first MMA championship. She defended her title four times before suffering her first MMA loss against Juliana Velasquez. Both fighters were undefeated entering the bout.

11. Juliana Velasquez

Country: Brazil

Nickname: n/a

Promotion: Bellator

MMA Record: 12-0-0

Juliana Velasquez started her career 5-0-0 before signing with Bellator and making her debut in December 2017. She won her first five fights against the likes of Na Liang, Rebecca Ruth, Alejandra Lara, Kristina Williams, and Bruna Ellen. At this point, she was 10-0-0 in her career.

In December 2020, Velasquez faced off against Macfarlane – who was searching for her fifth flyweight title defense. Velasquez crashed her party and took over the title, handing Macfarlane her first loss. As for Juliana, she has defended her title once already and is currently 12-0-0. 

10. Germaine de Randamie

Country: Netherlands

Nickname: The Iron Lady

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 10-4-0

Germaine de Randamie started her pro career in 2008 and went 1-1-0 in her first two fights. She then signed with Strikeforce and went 2-1-0 in her next three fights. Her loss came to Julia Budd in what was a rematch of a Muay Thai fight from years in the past. It was a humbling loss. 

Randamie signed with the UFC in 2013 and made her debut against Julie Kedzie. If it weren’t for Amanda Nunes dominating the sport, Germaine would be undefeated in the UFC. Unfortunately, she lost to Nunes twice – once in 2013 and then in 2019. Still, she’s 7-2-0 since joining the UFC.

9. Ayaka Hamasaki

Country: Japan

Nickname: n/a

Promotion: Rizin FF

MMA Record: 23-3-0

Ayaka Hamasaki will go down as one of the most dominant women MMA fighters of all-time. She has spent a majority of her career with Jewels, Invicta FC, and Rizin FF. She started her pro career 9-0-0, including two wins against Seo Hee Ham and a win against Yuka Tsuji. 

After suffering her first loss against all-time great Claudia Gadelha, she went on another winning streak with five-straight wins. Another five-fight win streak followed her second loss before Seo Hee Ham finally got her revenge. Since Hamasaki’s third loss, she has won four-straight. 

8. Seo Hee Ham

Country: South Korea

Nickname: Hamderlei Silva

Promotion: ONE Championship

MMA Record: 24-8-0

Seo Hee Ham spent a majority of her early career with Jewels and Smackgirl, winning 13 of her first 18 pro fights. Her five losses in that timespan came at the hands of some of the all-time greats, including Ayaka Hamasaki (twice), Miku Matsumoto, Yuka Tsuji, and Megumi Fujii. 

Hee Ham improved to 16-5-0 before signing a contract with the UFC. She only spent four fights with the promotion and went a disappointing 1-3-0. Since then, she won her past seven fights in Rizin FF and Road FC. She finally got her revenge on Hamasaki in a 2019 split decision.

7. Jessica Andrade

Country: Brazil

Nickname: Bate Estaca

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 22-9-0

Jessica Andrade started her career 9-2-0 before grabbing the attention of Dana White. She signed with the UFC and made her debut in 2013, losing to all-time great Liz Carmouche. After winning her next three fights, she went 1-2-0 in the following three and had a record of 13-5-0. 

Andrade went on another three-fight win streak before earning a strawweight title shot against  Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She lost the fight, but went on a four-fight win streak en route to defeating Rose Namajunas for the strawweight title. She didn’t defend it and is just 2-3-0 ever since. 

6. Julianna Pena

Country: United States

Nickname: The Venezuelan Vixen

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 11-4-0

Julianna Pena started her career 4-0-0 before suffering back-to-back losses in 2012 and 2013. She was then selected to be featured in The Ultimate Fighter 18 and went on to defeat Jessica Rakoczy and was named the women’s bantamweight champion for TUF 18 in November 2013.

After missing all of 2014 due to injury, Pena returned in 2015 and won her next three fights. She then went 2-2-0 over her next four fights, losing to Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie. Her first title opportunity came in 2021 and she pulled off one of the biggest upsets.

5. Weili Zhang

Country: China

Nickname: Magnum

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 21-3-0

Weili Zhang started her career with a loss in her pro debut, but that didn’t mean much because she would go on to win her next 21 fights between 2014 and 2020. She spent most of that time with Kunlun Fight before signing a contract with the UFC in 2018. She was 16-1-0 at the time.

After joining the UFC, Zhang won her next five fights – including wins over Jessica Aguilar, Tecia Torres, Jessica Andrade, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She won the strawweight title over Andrade and defended it against Jędrzejczyk, but has lost back-to-back bouts against Rose Namajunas.

4. Rose Namajunas

Country: United States

Nickname: Thug

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 11-4-0

Rose Namajunas started her career 2-0 with Invicta FC before suffering her first loss to Tecia Torres in 2013. At that time, it was announced that Namajunas would be featured in The Ultimate Fighter 20 for a shot at the inaugural strawweight championship. She made it to the finale. 

In the finale, Namajunas lost to Carla Esparza to begin her UFC career with a loss. She won four of her next five fights before receiving another shot at the strawweight title. She defeated Jędrzejczyk to take the title, defended it in a rematch, but lost it to Andrade. 

After beating Andrade in a rematch, Namajunas defeated Zhang to regain the title and defended it in a rematch.

3. Cristiane Justino

Country: Brazil

Nickname: Cris Cyborg

Promotion: Bellator 

MMA Record: 25-2-0 (1 NC)

Cristiane Justino, more commonly known as Cris Cyborg, started her pro career with a loss in 2005. Since then, she’s 25-1-0 with one no-contest. To say she has been dominant over the past 15 years is an understatement. She’s one of the greatest of all-time, hands down. 

Cyborg joined the UFC in 2016 in the midst of a 15-fight win streak. She won her first five fights in the UFC before suffering her first loss in over a decade to Amanda Nunes. After one more UFC win, she won the featherweight title with Bellator, which she has defended three times. 

2. Valentina Schevchenko

Country: Kyrgyzstan

Nickname: Bullet

Promotion: UFC

MMA Record: 22-3-0

Valentina Shevchenko started her career 7-0-0 fighting out of the KFK, WXF, KFP, and PFF. She suffered her first loss to Liz Carmouche in 2010, but followed that up with four straight victories. At this time, she was 11-1-0 and signed a contract with the UFC, making her debut in 2015. 

She won her first UFC fight, but lost to Amanda Nunes in her second fight. After beating Holly Holm and Julianna Pena, she lost yet again to Amanda Nunes. She has won her past eight fights, including wins against Jennifer Maia, Andrade, Carmouche, and Jędrzejczyk. 

1. Amanda Nunes

Country: Brazil

Nickname: The Lioness

Promotion: UFC 

MMA Record: 21-5-0

Amanda Nunes is widely regarded as the greatest MMA fighter of all-time. She has dominated the sport ever since she turned pro and exemplifies greatness every time she steps foot in the octagon. She started her career 7-3-0 before signing with the UFC and making a debut in 2013.

Once in the UFC, it was game over for other women MMA fighters. Nunes won her first two fights before suffering a loss to Cat Zingano. She then went on a 12-fight win streak, including wins against McMann, Tate, Rousey, Shevchenko (twice), Holm, Cyborg, and Randamie. 

Although she lost in her most recent fight, she’s still the only female two-division champion in UFC history. She’s 21-5-0 and will likely rebound better than ever. 

Who Are the Best Women MMA Fighters of All-Time?

Since women MMA fighters have only recently gained prominence in the sport, many of the names listed above are considered the greatest of all-time. Names like Amanda Nunes, Valentina Shevchenko, Rose Namajunas, Weili Zhang, and Cris Cyborg are the best of all-time.

With that said, there are plenty of women MMA fighters that could be considered among the greatest of all-time that weren’t featured on our list above. Ronda Rousey is a perfect example of someone who has retired, but would easily fall in the top-five greatest women MMA fighters.

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Other prominent names in the sport’s history include Marloes Coenen, Megumi Fuji, Angela Lee, Jennifer Howe, Yuka Tsuji, Tara LaRosa, Miesha Tate, Satoko Shinashi, Xiong Jing Nan, Gina Carano, Michelle Waterson, and Claudia Gadelha. They’ll forever be remembered.

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