UFC 168

UFC 168 Fallout: Ronda Rousey and the Top 10 Female Bantamweights in the UFC

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2013

UFC 168 Fallout: Ronda Rousey and the Top 10 Female Bantamweights in the UFC

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    UFC 168 did not see a changing of the guard, but it did see Ronda Rousey pushed beyond the first round.

    The champion tossed and battered challenger Miesha Tate for over two rounds before grabbing her patented armbar submission.  A lot of questions were answered about the champion.

    At the post-fight press conference it was announced that Sara McMann is next in line, and she will meet Rousey at UFC 170 in the main event. The Olympian vs. Olympian match-up will coincide with the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Coincidence?

    The division is still a bit shallow in terms of title contenders, but overall the UFC continues to develop and foster a growing group of fighters.

    This is what the top 10 looks like following UFC 168.

No. 10: Julianna Pena

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    UFC.com

    I do not believe Julianna Pena is the 10th best bantamweight on the planet, but that is not quite how rankings work.

    Several other of the contenders for that last spot have recently lost, and Pena nabbed her first win in the UFC in dominant fashion.

    While her The Ultimate Fighter performances were technically exhibition bouts, it is hard to ignore her performance throughout the show. Gina Mazany, Shayna Baszler and Sarah Moras were all finished inside the Octagon on the show. Pena then capped off the tournament with an official win over Jessica Rakoczy.

    Pena throws heavy leather and has a solid ground game. She improved a lot on the show, and with her raised profile she may only be a couple wins away from becoming a potential title contender.

No. 9: Jessica Andrade

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    UFC.com

    Jessica Andrade had a tough UFC debut against Liz Carmouche, but she rebounded nicely in October with a dominant win over Rosi Sexton.

    Andrade has a well-rounded game, but she is a bit undersized. Carmouche showed that.

    She is technically sound, and against a fighter of similar stature she got to showcase that. She can get wins in the bantamweight division, but she will struggle against the bigger, stronger opposition. Regardless, she is still a fun fighter to watch.

    Time will tell if she can close the strength gap, but if her opponents want a technical battle they'll have their hands full with one of the better young fighters in women's MMA.

No. 8: Amanda Nunes

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    After exchanging wins and losses, Nunes picked up back-to-back wins once she got inside the Octagon.

    The first win was over Sheila Gaff, a natural flyweight who uses brute strength as opposed to technique. Nunes mowed through her easily. More impressive was how Nunes did the same to Germaine de Randamie.

    De Randamie is a one dimensional fighter who is working on her ground game, but she is a legitimate bantamweight with good strength. Nunes put her down and pounded her out.

    With two very impressive performances inside the UFC Nunes will reach the shortlist for potential contender fights. She'll get a significant test in her next outing.

No. 7: Liz Carmouche

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    Liz Carmouche was the first to challenge for the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship, and it doesn't look like she'll challenge again for at least a little while.

    Carmouche didn't fall far. She then picked up a stoppage victory over Jessica Andrade. Things were looking up for Carmouche, and then she laid an egg against Alexis Davis.

    The former Marine looked flat at UFC Fight for the Troops 3. Davis utilized her leg kicks well, but Carmouche never seemed to be herself in the fight. The lopsided loss moved her down the rankings while others leapfrogged her in 2013.

    Carmouche can get back into title contention, but it'll take all of 2014 to do so.

No. 6: Sarah Kaufman

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    Sarah Kaufman was ranked highly heading into her fight against Jessica Eye, but she was on the wrong end of a decision after three rounds.

    Many had the fight scored for Kaufman so being No. 6 on this list may seem low. However, she lost and others have won. That's just how the game is played.

    Kaufman will not be far off from rejoining the top of the field.

    Kaufman is a former champion with a good stand-up game. There are a lot of good matchups for her out there that will put her back into position to become a contender in 2014. One can only hope that the UFC makes her more active in 2014.

No. 5: Jessica Eye

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    Jessica Eye was the former top dog at 125 pounds, and when she entered the UFC there were questions of how she would hold up against the larger fighters.

    I fully admit I had questions too. Eye put most of those to rest against Kaufman.

    Eye was not just the quicker fighter, but she showed her strength in positions that Kaufman would have been favored in pre-fight. When they clinched it was Eye who would reverse position and press Kaufman against the cage. Eye controlled the inside game.

    Add with the speed advantage, and good boxing, she went on to nab the decision victory.

    Eye is not going to be far off a title shot in the division. She deserves a big fight in the division in her next outing, and that will likely put to bed any lingering questions about how she'll hold up in the division.

No. 4: Miesha Tate

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    I was set to drop Miesha Tate further down the rankings before UFC 168 began. She is a top level bantamweight, but had she been ousted in the first round others would have deserved higher rankings as she dropped a second consecutive fight.

    However, Tate performed well. She took the champ as far as she'd have ever gone in a fight, and did well enough with her own offense.

    It showed that while she is not Rousey's equal, she is still one of the best bantamweights in the world.

    It is hard to tell where Tate will go from here, but she has earned recognition as being one of the best. She continues to improve, and is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster today.

No. 3: Sara McMann

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Ronda Rousey is not the only undefeated Olympian competing in the UFC's women's bantamweight division. There is also Sara McMann.

    McMann debuted in April, and make easy work of Sheila Gaff. She was then scheduled to fight Sarah Kaufman in Indianapolis, but withdrew due to undisclosed reasons. She was AWOL ever since. No word on any injuries, or on where she was.

    At the post-fight press conference it was announced that she will return at UFC 170 to go for the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship. That is a very intriguing, and exciting, fight.

    McMann is a very strong bantamweight with elite level wrestling. It will be the first time Rousey's grappling pedigree is equaled inside the cage.

No. 2: Alexis Davis

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    After losing to Sarah Kaufman by decision in March of 2012, Davis has since rebounded with four straight wins.

    She was impressive in her two outings in Invicta FC with wins over Hitomi Akano and Shayna Baszler. Submitting two submission specialists.

    Her UFC debut was lackluster, but it was a step onto the big stage. And she dominated the fight. Davis then took it to Liz Carmouche. She took Carmouche out of her gameplan, and won a clear decision against a former title contender. That elevated Davis toward the top.

    Davis' four consecutive wins puts her at the top end of the division, and her growing skill set makes her a very dangerous fighter to deal with.

No. 1: Cat Zingano

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Cat Zingano is undefeated. After defeating Miesha Tate by TKO in April she was guaranteed a title shot.

    An injury forced her out of that fight.

    Zingano is still recovering from the knee injury, and has no set time to return. That most likely played into the UFC's decision to go with Sara McMann as the next challenger. But that does not effect where Zingano stands in the division.

    Athletically, Zingano is right behind Rousey. She is one of the most athletically gifted bantamweights in the division. Add in a very good jiu-jitsu game, and a competent, hard-hitting striking game and she becomes the top challenger.

    Alongside Sara McMann, Zingano is the toughest test for Rousey's crown. Here's hoping that she recovers full and we see her challenge the winner of the UFC 170 title fight later in 2014.

Champion: Ronda Rousey

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    The UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship stayed around the waist of Ronda Rousey, and she moved her record to 8-0 with the third round finish.

    Rousey has proved that she is above the rest of the field, and her two biggest tests still wait in the wings. She'll get the first of those tests at UFC 170.

    Rousey finally got to showcase a bit of her striking on Saturday. It wasn't the most technically sound, but you saw glimpses of the hardwork she's put in. She is improving, and she landed several quality shots on Tate.

    Her grappling was still top notch, and her ground and pound was more damaging than ever.

    Sara McMann offers a very interesting challenge to her, and UFC 170 in February will be a very intriguing event. Rousey's athleticism and grappling pedigree will be met for the first time.

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