5 Best Female Fighters In UFC History
From bare-knuckle fighting to women headlining PPVs; UFC has surely come a long way since its inhospitable beginnings in the early 1990s.
The predominant image of fighting has always been that of two rugged men punching the living daylights out of each other with the emphasis here being on the word ‘men’. Now let me stress on the past few decades which have seen women rise to attain equal status in every sport and not just in combative disciplines.
Women, though, have been an active feature of the combat sports scene since the 18th century, albeit in the shadows of their male counterparts. Until the early 1980s, female boxing matches attracted controversy, so much so that it was criticized for being a mere ‘gratification of the sensual ideas of vulgar men’. Nonetheless, the 1990s saw a boxing boom in the US and Europe and it was subsequently added to the Olympic Games in the 21st Century.
Around the same time when women’s boxing rose to prominence in the United States, female mixed martial arts fights began talking flight in the only country willing to push the boundaries – Japan.
The first female MMA fight in the US happened on March 28, 1997, in the International Fighting Championship, however, it took another 12 years for Strikeforce to have the first female main event when Cris Cyborg defeated Gina Carrano to become the first Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion.
This decade has all been about UFC and the one person credited for the success of women in MMA, Ronda Rousey. However, she is far from being the greatest ever and in this slider, we take a look at the other greats that deserve equal recognition.
Holly Holm (12-4, won the UFC Women's Bantamweight title from Ronda Rousey)
Miesha Tate (18-7, formerUFC Women's Bantamweight Champion)
Rose Namajunas (8-3, won the UFC Women's Strawweight title from Joanna Jędrzejczyk)
#5 Valentina Shevchenko (16-3)
The Russian-born Shevchenko is the possibly the most underrated female athlete MMA today. Shevchenko has black belts in Taekwondo and Judo and holds the Master of Sports rank in Kickboxing, Boxing and Muay Thai. You won’t find a female fighter with better striking credentials than the Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian.
Coming to her statistics then. Her kickboxing record stands at 56 wins and 2 losses, while she has won both her professional boxing bouts. Popularly known as the Bullet, Shevchenko knocked out a 22-year-old when she was just 12 years old and had her first MMA fight in 2003. She won 8 amateur world championship gold medals in Muay Thai before signing up with the UFC in 2015 with an MMA record of 12-1.
Shevchenko has had seven fights in the UFC with both her losses coming against Amanda Nunes. The second of those was a split decision in which many actually felt Shevchenko had done enough to dethrone Nunes as the champion but the judges thought otherwise.
The controversial loss was Shevchenko’s last fight at 135 lb as she went down to Flyweight and as things stand, is the current Flyweight Champion.
Shevchenko beat Joanna Jędrzejczyk via unanimous decision to capture the vacant title at UFC 231. This was her fourth career win against Jędrzejczyk (3 kickboxing, 1 MMA) and it undoubtedly solidified her place as one of the most feared women on the roster.
Shevchenko is lethal with her stand up, proficient on the ground owing to her Judo background and became the UFC champion after beating one of the most dominant female UFC fighters of all time. Do you need any more reasons to justify why she is on this list?
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