Ronda Rousey and the Top 10 Pound-for-Pound WMMA Fighters

Nick CaronAnalyst IAugust 23, 2012

Ronda Rousey and the Top 10 Pound-for-Pound WMMA Fighters

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    It took just 54 seconds on Saturday night for "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey to emphatically prove that she is the top female fighter in the world at 135 pounds. Like so many others before her now, Sarah Kaufman fell victim to the armbar from the Olympic medalist in judo. 

    Rousey, who became the Strikeforce bantamweight champion in March, has seen her popularity skyrocket in recent months. She even found herself baring all on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue in 2012.

    The rise to stardom has obviously been great for Rousey's career, but it has also helped spark the kind of interest in women's combat sports that it has never achieved in the past. 

    Rousey is certainly the face of WMMA at the moment, but she's not the only fighter that fans should be paying attention to. Here are the top 10 pound-for-pound female fighters in the sport today. 

10. Julie Kedzie

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    Weight Class: 135 pounds

    Promotion: Strikeforce 

    Record: 16-11

    Record in Past Five Fights: 2-3

    Most Recent Fight: Loss vs. Miesha Tate, Submission (armbar) on August 18, 2012 

    It's not often that a fighter moves up the rankings after a loss, but Julie Kedzie may have done that after her performance against Miesha Tate on Saturday night, when she nearly shocked the former Strikeforce bantamweight champion in San Diego.

    Kedzie, who had taken over a year off from active competition, got in the cage and let it all hang out in a memorable effort against one of the best in the history of the sport. Kedzie caught Tate numerous times on the feet and was likely winning on the fight on the judges' scorecards before getting caught in an armbar midway through the third round. 

9. Liz Carmouche

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    Weight Class: 135 pounds

    Promotion: Strikeforce, Invicta FC

    Record: 7-2

    Record in Past Five Fights: 3-2

    Most Recent Fight: Win vs. Kaitlin Young, Submission (rear-naked choke) on July 28, 2012 

    One of the top up-and-comers in the sport, Liz Carmouche has found herself competing at the top levels of women's mixed martial arts in both Strikeforce and the newly-created Invicta Fighting Championships.

    After two losses in a row against former champions in Marloes Coenen and Sarah Kaufman in 2011, Carmouche has righted the ship in 2012 with back-to-back wins over Ashleigh Curry and the always dangerous Kaitlin Young.

    Carmouche's wrestling is among the best in all of women's MMA, and if she can continue to improve other facets of her game, she could be looking at a shot at some gold in the near future. 

8. Marloes Coenen

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    Weight Class: 145 pounds. 135 pounds

    Promotion: Strikeforce, Invicta FC

    Record: 20-5

    Record in Past Five Fights: 3-2

    Most Recent Fight: Win vs. Romy Ruyssen (unanimous decision) at Invicta FC 1 

    Former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen saw her ranking slip quite a bit after her loss to Miesha Tate in July 2011, but the 31-year-old isn't done yet. 

    After moving back to the 145-pound division, where she had competed prior to winning the bantamweight title, Coenen competed in the main event of the very first Invicta FC event, where she defeated Romy Ruyssen by unanimous decision.

    Although she has two losses in her past five fights, both of the losses came against fellow top-10 fighters in Tate and Cris Cyborg. Coenen also holds recent victories over both Sarah Kaufman and Liz Carmouche, which solidify her as a top-10 WMMA fighter. 

7. Megumi Fujii

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    Weight Class: 115 pounds

    Promotion: Bellator

    Record: 25-2

    Record in Past Five Fights: 3-2

    Most Recent Fight: Loss vs. Jessica Aguilar, unanimous decision on May 18, 2012 

    The first fighter in the top 10 who is not active in the stacked 135-pound division is also the first Japanese fighter on the list, Megumi Fujii. 

    Fujii, who had developed a reputation that resembled being the female version of the great Fedor Emelianenko overseas, racked up an impressive 22-0 record before the first loss of her career in a split decision against Zoila Gurgel at Bellator 34 back in 2010.

    Though she did recently lose a second fight, this time to Jessica Aguilar at Bellator 69, Fujii is still widely considered to be one of the two best strawweights in the sport. 

6. Miesha Tate

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    Weight Class: 135 pounds

    Promotion: Strikeforce

    Record: 13-3

    Record in Past Five Fights: 4-1

    Most Recent Fight: Win vs. Julie Kedzie, submission (armbar) on August 18, 2012 

    The former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion got back in the win column at Saturday's event, but it didn't happen in the way that many expected.

    Tate, a winner in six of her previous seven fights, was pushed to the limit by 31-year-old Julie Kedzie, who hadn't competed in over a year. After being nearly knocked out on a couple occasions during the bout, Tate recovered and was finally able to lock in an armbar that got her the submission victory late in the contest.

5. Alexis Davis

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    Weight Class: 135 pounds

    Promotion: Strikeforce, Invicta FC

    Record: 12-5

    Record in Past Five Fights: 4-1

    Most Recent Fight: Win vs. Hitomi Akani, submission (rear-naked choke) at Invicta FC 2

    After suffering a heartbreakingly close defeat to Sarah Kaufman at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey this past March, Alexis Davis began her climb back into the title picture on July 28 when she defeated Hitomi Akano at Invicta FC 2. 

    Davis, who competes in both the Strikeforce and Invicta promotions, has proven to be one of the most game fighters in the entire division and has not been stopped in a bout since early 2009. 

4. Jessica Aguilar

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    Weight Class: 115 pounds

    Promotion: Bellator

    Record: 14-4

    Record in Past Five Fights: 5-0

    Most Recent Fight: Win vs. Megumi Fujii, decision (unanimous) at Bellator 69

    She might not be as well-known as some of the other ladies on this list due to competing primarily in Bellator over the past two years, but Jessica Aguilar has proven during that time that she is perhaps the best 115-pound women's mixed martial artist on the planet.

    Aguilar toppled the legendary Megumi Fujii at Bellator 69, earning herself the biggest victory of her career and a spot in the top five pound-for-pound rankings. 

3. Sara McMann

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    Weight Class: 135 pounds

    Promotion: Invicta FC

    Record: 6-0

    Record in Past Five Fights: 5-0

    Most Recent Fight: Win vs. Shayna Baszler, decision (unanimous) at Invicta FC 2

    Much like Ronda Rousey, Sara McMann had tremendous success outside the sport of mixed martial arts before she ever got into it. 

    As the first ever Olympic silver medalist in United States women's wrestling history, McMann has transformed her game from being all about grappling into a well-rounded skill set that can dominate in MMA. 

    McMann did get pushed to the limit by the highly talented Shayna Blaszler at Invicta FC 2, but proved that she is a legitimate force by taking the unanimous decision. 

2. Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos

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    Weight Class: 135 pounds

    Promotion: Strikeforce, Invicta FC

    Record: 10-1 (1)

    Record in Past Five Fights: 4-0-(1)

    Most Recent Fight: No Contest vs. Hiroko Yamanaka (overturned by CSAC)

    Some might take issue with Cris Cyborg even being on this list, but the reality is that there just isn't another female fighter with the credentials of Santos.

    Sure, she's suspended at the moment due to a positive steroid test, and we might never see her return to the dominant machine she was prior to being popped, but for the time being, we remember Cyborg as the lady who has completely run through the entire 145-pound division without even being tested.

    Santos' suspension will eventually be up, and we'll likely see her compete for the role of the top woman in the sport against...

1. Ronda Rousey

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    Weight Class: 135 pounds

    Promotion: Strikeforce

    Record: 6-0 (3-0 amateur)

    Record in Past Five Fights: 5-0

    Most Recent Fight: Win vs. Sarah Kaufman, submission (armbar) at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman

    Rarely does an athlete capture the attention of fans in such a short amount of time. Even more rarely is that athlete a woman. 

    Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion might be the biggest rising star in the sport today, and it doesn't appear that is going to change any time soon.

    Rousey, who has won all nine of her professional MMA fights by way of armbar in the first round, has seen herself featured all over the sports universe, including the cover of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue.

    Rousey's victories over Julia Budd, Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman make her the unquestioned top fighter at 135 pounds, but she has now set her sights on proving that she is also better than current Strikeforce 145-pound champion Cristiane Santos. 

    If that fight ever does happen and Rousey comes out on top, look out, she might just decide to start looking at the men's division.