Holly Holm and 5 Women's Fighters Who Could Be the Next Big Thing

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2013

Holly Holm and 5 Women's Fighters Who Could Be the Next Big Thing

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    The face of women's MMA right now is Ronda Rousey—the brash, armbarring Olympic-level judoka who is the undefeated UFC champion. She is 7-0 with all of her wins coming by way of first-round armbar.

    At some point or another, there will be a changing of the guard in terms of the face of WMMA. Rousey took the torch from Gina Carano, the original attraction in WMMA.

    We have our current stars, but there are a bevy of up-and-comers who could become the next big thing in WMMA. Here are some women who could be that next big thing.

Michelle Waterson

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    Weight Class: Atomweight

    Record: 11-3

    Notable Wins: Jessica Penne, Lacey Schuckman, Diana Rael, Tyra Parker

    Representing Jackson's MMA, Michelle Waterson is popular due to her model-like looks and her impressive fight style. She is currently the Invicta 105-pound champion after beating Jessica Penne in an absolute barnburner (check YouTube).

    She has a karate background—which figured into her nickname, "The Karate Hottie"—her striking is top notch and her ground game has come a long way, as seen against Penne and Lacey Schuckman.

    In women's MMA, excitement and good looks are the highway to stardom. Waterson possesses both of those qualities. 

Holly Holm

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    Weight Class: Bantamweight

    Record: 6-0

    Notable Wins: Jan Finney, Allanna Jones, Angela Hayes

    The big talk of the WMMA community, especially when it regards the UFC, is when Holly Holm is going to get a crack in the company. Chatter speculates she wants too much money for a UFC newcomer or that she can't sign until her contract is up with Legacy Fighting Championship.

    Regardless, the Jackson's MMA product is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in MMA, behind only Cris "Cyborg" Justino and maybe Miriam Nakamoto. Plus, she has insane knockout power in both her hands and feet.

    Just the hype she is getting right now suggests that she has all the makings of a superstar. Given the right platform, she could be a huge name for MMA. 

Joanne Calderwood/Tecia Torres

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    Weight Class: Strawweight

    Record: 8-0 (Calderwood) and 4-0 (Torres)

    Calderwood Notable Wins: Katja Kankaanpaa, Norma Center, Ashley Cummins, Lena Ovchynnikova

    Torres Notable Wins: Felice Herrig, Rose Namajunas, Paige VanZant

    The Ultimate Fighter 20 has two of the very best and most popular 115-pounders at this point in time in Scotland's Joanne Calderwood and Floridian Tecia Torres.

    Calderwood is a Muay Thai buzzsaw with nasty kicks, throttling knees and effective punches. She is undefeated and has a great cult following, which could lead into a more broad fanbase when she gets national exposure.

    Torres is still a prospect, but she made herself a contender at the same time when she beat WMMA darling Felice Herrig in her last fight. She is a great striker with a good ground game as well, which makes her dangerous on the show.

    Both have a chance to become the face of the 115-pound division through TUF. Given their rising popularity right now, it won't be long before they become top faces of WMMA. 

Ashlee Evans-Smith

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    Weight Class: Featherweight

    Record: 2-0

    Notable Wins: Tori Adams, Fallon Fox

    You may not know much about Ashlee Evans-Smith. She is a featherweight—a division that is not the most followed in WMMA today.

    What you should know about Ashlee Evans-Smith is that she is a heavy top-game wrestler with solid all-around skills, the personality to get her over with fans and the credential of beating the controversial Fallon Fox to win the CFA 145-pound tournament.

    There is a high possibility that she could cut to 135, as she is not the biggest 145-pounder. That means a bigger stage—the UFC—could be in her future.

    With that platform, she could become a big star due to her style and personality. 

Mizuki Inoue

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    Weight Class: Strawweight

    Record: 7-1

    Notable Wins: Bec Hyatt, Emi Fujino, Alex Chambers

    Mizuki Inoue is only 19 years old. She has been competing professionally since 2010. She is the ultimate prospect that has a high ceiling and a great payoff.

    People love getting on the bandwagon early, which could be the case with Inoue. The technical striker is actually more noted for her grappling chops, as five of her wins come by submission.

    She has already defeated two women that are in the TUF 20 house in Bec Hyatt and Alex Chambers. If the UFC were to bring her over and she were successful, she could be a big Japanese star, like Takanori Gomi used to be in Pride.