B/R Women's MMA Rankings, June 2014

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2014

B/R Women's MMA Rankings, June 2014

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Women's MMA is growing, and with that, we must keep up with the times. Women are getting more and more opportunities in mixed martial arts, as well as becoming more prevalent on the big stage.

    The UFC, Invicta and World Series of Fighting are just three of the major organizations that host female fighters. When you consider Deep Jewels, MMA Super Heroes and several others who let the ladies compete, you have a bunch of proving grounds for these up-and-coming athletes.

    Bleacher Report's Riley Kontek and Mitch Ciccarelli have ranked the women of the five major weight classes and will give some insight on what's going on in each division. Here is this month's installment of the Bleacher Report's women's MMA rankings.

    Note: Last month's rankings are in parentheses next to nationality.


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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
    1. Cris "Cyborg" Justino (BRA) (1)
    2. Marloes Coenen (NET) (2)
    3. Julia Budd (CAN) (3)
    4. Ediane Gomes (BRA) (4)
    5. Veronica Rothenhausler (USA) (5)
    6. Talita Nogueira (BRA) (7)
    7. Pannie Kianzad (SWE) (8)
    8. Ashlee Evans-Smith (USA) (6)
    9. Faith van Duin (NZE) (9)
    10. Marina Shafir (MOL) (10)
    11. Fiona Muxlow (AUS) (12)
    12. Tamikka Brents (USA) (11)
    13. Charmaine Tweet (CAN) (14)
    14. Annalisa Bucci (ITA) (15)
    15. Elina Nilsson (SWE) (NR)
    • Dropped out of the rankings: Kate da Silva (NZE)

    European featherweights kept the rankings interesting this month, as two fighters made moves in the rankings with recent performances: Pannie Kianzad and Annalisa Bucci.

    Kianzad actually defeated Bucci to pop up a spot in the rankings, taking an impressive win over the Italian. Bucci came back later in the month to snag a win back, besting Maria Hougaard Djursaa in an impressive performance in her own right.

    Kate da Silva, a staple of the top-15 rankings, decided to drop to bantamweight in her two fights in May, winning both. She has not cracked the top 15 in the bantamweight division, but she has a good shot of making the UFC if she continues to be successful.

    Also, Charmaine Tweet stays in the rankings despite taking a fight outside of the division at 155. She was successful, though, choking out notorious weight-misser Anna Barone with a rear-naked choke.

    For now, we all wait on the return of Cris "Cyborg" Justino, who is the star and overall wrecking ball of the division.


    Top-15 Results in May

    Pannie Kianzad (7)def.Annalisa Bucci (14)
    Charmaine Tweet (13)def.Anna Barone
    Annalisa Bucci (14)def.Maria Hougaard Djursaa


    Top-15 Fights in June

    **Ashlee Evans-Smith (8)**vs.Marciea Allen
    Tamikka Brents (12)vs.Bobbi-Jo Dalziel

    **Fight will be contested at 135 pounds


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    USA TODAY Sports
    1. Ronda Rousey (USA) (1)
    2. Cat Zingano (USA) (2)
    3. Alexis Davis (CAN) (3)
    4. Miesha Tate (USA) (4)
    5. Sara McMann (USA) (5)
    6. Jessica Eye (USA) (6)
    7. Sarah Kaufman (CAN) (7)
    8. Lauren Murphy (USA) (8)
    9. Amanda Nunes (BRA) (9)
    10. Shayna Baszler (USA) (10)
    11. Liz Carmouche (USA) (11)
    12. Holly Holm (USA) (12)
    13. Rin Nakai (JPN) (14)
    14. Germaine de Randamie (NET) (13)
    15. Miriam Nakamoto (USA) (15)
    • Dropped out of the rankings: N/A

    Rin Nakai continued her ascent in the bantamweight division in May, as the undefeated Japanese grappler beat up Invicta vet Sarah D'Alelio in Japan. It was the headline of the entire bantamweight division in May, as the UFC failed to put on a women's fight. She is an interesting commodity that the UFC needs to look at when her contract with Pancrase is up.

    Outside of that, most of the bantamweight division is in the UFC. Cat Zingano is getting close to a return, while Germaine de Randamie forfeited her spot on UFC 174 due to injury. Those are the big things happening in that company.

    The two women the UFC needs to on have on its radar in this top 15 are Holly Holm and Lauren Murphy. Holm is a world champion boxer who has become a highly talked-about fighter in the MMA world, while Murphy is the Invicta champion who is undefeated and has a sterling reputation.


    Top-15 Results in May

    Rin Nakai (13)def.Sarah D'Alelio


    Top-15 Fights in June: N/A


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    1. Barb Honchak (USA) (1)
    2. Vanessa Porto (BRA) (2)
    3. Jennifer Maia (BRA) (3)
    4. Nina Ansaroff (USA) (4)
    5. Zoila Gurgel (USA) (5)
    6. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (POL) (6)
    7. Munah Holland (USA) (7)
    8. Brenda Gonzales (USA) (8)
    9. Julia Berezikova (RUS) (9)
    10. DeAnna Bennett (USA) (10)
    11. Tina Lahdemaki (FIN) (11)
    12. Pearl Gonzalez (USA) (12)
    13. Aline Serio (BRA) (13)
    14. Alexa Grasso (MEX) (15)
    15. Elaine Albuquerque (BRA) (NR)
    • Dropped out of the rankings: Ericka Almeida (BRA) (14)

    Inactivity is what did in Ericka Almeida, as she has not fought within the allotted 18 months that our countdown requires. In her place slides fellow Brazilian Elaine Albuquerque, who has been impressive on the Brazilian circuit with an 8-3 record.

    In looking at the division, it's easy to see that there is some intriguing talent, but that some of the talent has sprinted toward the 135-pound division with the intent of jumping to the UFC.

    Some of the brightest talent comes in the form of Joanna Jedrzejczyk, DeAnna Bennett and Pearl Gonzalez. All three have serious upside, with Bennett also making a possible run at the UFC soon.

    Of course, the kingpin (or queenpin) of the division is Barb Honchak, who has looked formidable in her time with Invicta, including in her title reign so far. One has to believe that Jennifer Maia would be her next challenge, as the Brazilian is among the most talented in the division.


    Top-15 Results in May

    Jennifer Maia (3)def.Mariana Morais
    Joanna Jedrzejczyk (6)def.Karla Benitez


    Top-15 Fights in June

    Joanna Jedrzejczyk (6)vs.Rosi Sexton
    *DeAnna Bennett (10)*vs.Colleen Schneider
    Elaine Albuquerque (15)vs.Carina Damm


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    1. Jessica Aguilar (USA) (1)
    2. Carla Esparza (USA) (2)
    3. Claudia Gadelha (BRA) (3)
    4. Joanne Calderwood (UK) (4)
    5. Tecia Torres (USA) (5)
    6. Kalindra Faria (BRA) (7)
    7. Ayaka Hamasaki (JPN) (6)
    8. Mizuki Inoue (JPN) (8)
    9. Katja Kankaanpaa (FIN) (9)
    10. Felice Herrig (USA) (10)
    11. Stephanie Eggink (USA) (11)
    12. Bec Rawlings (AUS) (12)
    13. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (POL) (14)
    14. Rose Namajunas (USA) (13)
    15. Herica Tiburcio (BRA) (15)
    • Dropped out of the rankings: N/A

    As Eminem once said, "I've been patiently waiting..." That describes me, and a lot of other people, when it comes to the strawweights and The Ultimate Fighter 20.

    Most of the top 15 will participate in the upcoming series of the show, while three original cast members in Claudia Gadelha (weight-cutting issue), Julianna Lima (language issue) and Paige vanZant (age issue) will all go straight to the UFC and skip the show.

    Outside of those cast members, there is some solid talent that the UFC can add later on when the show resolves. Kalindra Faria, Mizuki Inoue, Ayaka Hamasaki, Katja Kankaanpaa and Karolina Kowalkiewicz are all great foreign talents that could continue to add depth to the division.

    All things considered, the future looks bright for 115.


    Top-15 Results from May

    Katja Kankaanpaa (9)def.Alyona Rassohyna
    Karolina Kowalkiewicz (13)def.Jasminka Cive


    Top-15 Fights in June

    Jessica Aguilar (1)vs.Emi Fujino


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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    1. Michelle Waterson (USA) (1)
    2. Jessica Penne (USA) (2)
    3. Seo Hee Ham (KOR) (3)
    4. Naho Sugiyama (JPN) (4)
    5. Lacey Schuckman (USA) (5)
    6. Simona Soukupova (UK) (6)
    7. Alex Chambers (AUS) (7)
    8. Cassie Rodish (USA) (8)
    9. Jodie Esquibel (USA) (9)
    10. Stephanie Frausto (USA) (10)
    11. Amy Davis (USA) (11)
    12. Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc (12)
    13. Diana Rael (USA) (13)
    14. Amber Brown (USA) (14)
    15. Jinh Yu Frey (USA) (15)
    • Dropped out of the rankings: N/A

    You may or may not believe this, but the atomweight division may be the most underrated division in WMMA. Don't look at the fighters' records, as most have had to compete outside of the division to get fights, but these athletes are exciting and skilled.

    Some of the young talent with top potential reside at the bottom of the rankings in Amber Brown and Jinh Yu Frey. Both ladies are young, hungry and skilled, which has been seen every time they enter the cage.

    Then you have the scrappy vets who have occupied the top of the division for years. Michelle Waterson, Jessica Penne and Naho Sugiyama are longtime occupiers of the top spots due to their ability to win over talented opponents.


    Top-15 Results from May: N/A


    Top-15 Fights in June

    Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc (12)vs.Jen Aniano