Mixed Martial Arts is one of the most aggressive sports that exist and for a long time it was seen as "barbaric". Females started taking place in MMA way later than males, all of this being way more popular in places like Japan. This is why many of the women on our list are Japanese as they, in a way, were of the first females to even compete professionally.
Female MMA wasn't really a big deal until the UFC purchased them, but since they have, they have stayed relevant and very popular ever since. This list is taking into consideration all MMA promotions, like Bellator and Invicta FC, not just the UFC.
The very first official female MMA fight actually took place in the United States in 1997. Ever since, many women have made their mark on the sport. Some completely revolutionized the world of female fighting while others made it as popular as it is today. Without further ado, lets take a look at the top 25 greatest female MMA fighters of all time!
25. Michelle Waterson
Michelle Waterson, nicknamed "The Karate Hottie" is an American MMA fighter and model who competes in the UFC. She is a former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion and as of April 2021, she is ranked #9 in the UFC women's strawweight rankings.
Waterson was ranked as the number 1 atomweight fighter in the world between 2013 and 2014. She has two Fight of the Year awards and the 2014 Most Vulgar Display of Power Award for her beatdown against Yasuko Tamada. Waterson has a record of 18 wins and 8 losses.
24. Carla Esparza
Carla Esparza is an American strawweight fighter who fights in the UFC. She is one of the most successful fighters in recent times and is well known for her grappling abilities. She was the very first Strawweight Champion in both the UFC and Invicta FC, holding both titles simultaneously at one point.
Esparza is the only woman to win two inaugural titles with two different MMA promotions and as of January 2021, she is fourth in the UFC's women's strawweight rankings. Known for her wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu skills, Esparza is one of the most well-rounded fighters there is. She has a record of 17 wins and 6 losses.
23. Zoila Gurgel
Zoila Gurgel, nicknamed the "Warrior Princess", is an American fighter who was the very first Bellator Women's Champion. She is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo. Gurgel has competed in three different weight classes, Bantamweight, Flyweight, and Strawweight.
Gurgel's father is a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo and her sister is also an MMA fighter, Stephanie Frausto. Gurgel started in Bellator where she was their very first female champion and then went to Invicta FC were she had a negative record. She has an overall record of 13 wins and 6 losses.
22. Miesha Tate
Miesha Tate, nicknamed "Cupcake", is an American who competes in the UFC. She is a former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion who is known for her grappling skills. She was the inaugural champion in the UFC but she lost that title her very next fight against another fighter on this list, Ronda Rousey.
Tate lost against Cat Zingano and Ronda Rousey once more before winning three fights in a row and earning another title shot against Holly Holm. She defeated Holm and was crowned champion once again but the story repeated itself and she lost that title her very next fight. Tate has a record of 18 wins and 7 losses.
21. Jessica Andrade
Jessica Andrade is a Brazilian fighter who is currently signed to the UFC where she competes in the women's flyweight division. She is the former UFC Women's Strawweight Champion and as of October 2020, the number 1 in the UFC women's flyweight rankings.
Andrade is one of the best Brazilian fighters and she is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She has a Performance of the Night award and three Fight of the Night awards while in the UFC. As of April 2021, she has the most knockouts in strawweight division history. Andrade has a record of 21 wins and 8 losses.
20. Julianna Pena
Julianna Pena, nicknamed "The Venezuelan Vixen", is an American fighter who competes in the UFC. She was the first woman to win The Ultimate Fighter and has one Performance of the Night award. She is one of the best in the MMA scene.
Pena is number 6 in the UFC women's bantamweight rankings as of April 2021. She won her first four consecutive fights as a professional before losing to Sarah Moras in 2012. Pena also won the 2021 January Submission of the Month for a recent fight against Sara McMann. She has a record of 10 wins and 4 losses.
19. Gina Carano
Gina Carano is an American fighter who competed in EliteXC and Strikeforce for 4 years. She was known as the face of women's MMA because of her popularity at the time and she was also the first woman to headline a major MMA event alongside Cris Cyborg.
Carano spent only a few years in the MMA scene before becoming an actress, landing roles in movies like Fast & Furious 6, Deadpool, and the Disney+ show, The Mandalorian. She competed in the first ever women's MMA bout in the state of Nevada which she won and she was close to joining the UFC in 2014. Carano has a record of 7 wins and 1 loss.
18. Megumi Fujii
Megumi Fujii, nicknamed "Mega Megu", is a Japanese fighter who was a master in takedowns and submissions. She is a fantastic fighter but she is not higher on this list because she never faced top-tier names like some of our other fighters on this list. She is a black belt in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Fujii was also the first Razryad International Master in Sambo and also achieved four second place finishes in World Sambo Tournaments. 73% of all her wins have been by submission and she won her first 22 bouts as a professional MMA figher. She has a record of 26 wins and 3 losses.
17. Cat Zingano
Cat Zingano is an American fighter signed to Bellator MMA, competing in their women's featherweight division. She also competed for the UFC in the past and she became the very first woman to win a UFC fight by technical knockout. She is one of the best in the cage.
Zingano was also the first woman to be awarded the UFC Fight of the Night award. When she left the UFC she was ranked seventh in their women's bantamweight rankings. She began wrestling at age 12 and eventually became part of both the University of the Cumberlands and MacMurray College women's teams where she became a 4-time All-American and National Champion. Zingano has a record of 12 wins and 4 losses.
16. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Karolina Kowalkiewicz, nicknamed the "Polish Princess", is a Polish fighter who currently fights for the UFC. She is the former Konfrontacja Sztuk Walk (better known as KSW) Women's Flyweight Champion. She also competed in one Invicta FC bout where she won Fight of the Night before making the jump to the UFC in 2015.
Kowalkiewicz started her professional career going 10-0 and when she joined the UFC she was given a title shot against Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She lost that fight and has struggled to bounce back since. Besides her recent losses no one can argue that she is one of the best female fighters in MMA history. Kowalkiewicz has a record of 12 wins and 6 losses.
15. Sarah Kaufman
Sarah Kaufman is a Canadian fighter who competes in the women's bantamweight division. She is the Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion and she was also the first Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion. She started her career going on a 12-0 unbeaten streak.
Kaufman has beat some of the best names in the sport but her unbeaten run came to an end when she faced Marloes Coenen. She has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but also does a lot of wrestling when fighting. Kaufman has a record of 21 wins, 5 losses, and 1 no contest.
14. Rose Namajunas
Rose Namajunas, nicknamed "Thug Rose", is an American fighter in the UFC who competes in the women's strawweight division. She is a former UFC Women's Strawweight Champion and as of December 2020, she is number 1 in the UFC Women's Strawweight Rankings.
Namajunas is a very complete fighter who possesses good knockout power but can also pin her opponents into submission. She is a black belt in Taekwondo and Karate while also being a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Rose has a record of 9 wins and 4 losses.
13. Xiong Jingnan
Xiong Jingnan, nicknamed "The Panda", is a Chinese fighter who is a legend in the MMA world. She is the inaugural and reigning ONE Women's Strawweight World Champion and was also the first ever Chinese World Champion in MMA history.
Jingnan has won most of her fights by knockout and she has four successful title defenses. She is still fighting and we could see her way higher on this list in a couple of years if she can keep her form. She has a record of 14 wins and 2 losses.
12. Tara LaRosa
Tara LaRosa is an American fighter who is very decorated. She has never fought in the UFC and most of her success has been while fighting for BodogFight. She was the first and only BodogFight Women's Bantamweight Champion. She has also competed in 12 Grappling World Championships where she won gold in 6 of them.
LaRosa was the number 1 flyweight between 2010 and 2012. Based on her many grappling medals, she is one of the most decorated grapplers that MMA has ever seen. In 2013, LaRosa was inducted into the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame. She has a record of 22 wins and 5 losses.
11. Holly Holm
Holly Holm, nicknamed "The Preacher's Daughter", is an American fighter who competes in the UFC. She is the former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion and was also a very successful professional boxer where she defended her titles 18 times in three different weight classes.
Holm had a boxing record of 33 wins and 3 losses before joining the UFC in 2014. She has been one of the best fighters in two different women's divisions and she also knocked out Ronda Rousey in only her third UFC fight to become the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion. She has a record of 14 wins and 5 losses.
10. Claudia Gedelha
Claudia Gedelha is a Brazilian fighter who competes in the Women's Strawweight division of the UFC. As of April 2021, she is number eight in the UFC women's strawweight rankings. She is a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has won 14 BJJ world championships.
Gadelha won the first Women's Strawweight fight in UFC history and has also won the Fight of the Night award two times, against Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. She also won the Performance of the Night award in her fight against Kowalkiewicz. She has a record of 18 wins and 5 losses.
9. Marloes Coenen
Marloes Coenen is a retired Dutch fighter who was also a former Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion. She joined Strikeforce and lost to Cris Cyborg but then beat Sarah Kaufman to win the Women's Bantamweight Title.
Coenen is a grappling expert who has won 74% of her fights by submission. She won her first eight bouts while competing professionally and in November of 2000, she also won the ReMix World Cup. The ReMix World Cup was the first female MMA championship which makes her the first ever female MMA champion. Coenen has a record of 23 wins and 8 losses.
8. Zhang Weili
Zhang Weili is an active Chinese fighter who currently competes in the UFC under the strawweight division. As of April 2021, Weili is the only Chinese person to hold any title in the UFC. She was the former Kunlun Fight (KLF) Strawweight Champion and is the current UFC Women's Strawweight World Champion.
Weili spent most of her career fighting in the KLF, with many people believing that she is the best fighter to ever compete in the competition. She has also defeated some huge names like Jessica Andrade and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Weili has a record of 21 wins and 1 loss.
7. Jennifer Maia
Jennifer Maia is a Brazilian fighter who competes in the UFC under the flyweight division. As of April 2021, she is ranked fourth in the UFC women's flyweight rankings. Maia is the former Invicta FC Flyweight World Champion. She is an absolute machine!
Maia won her first four professional MMA fights, all of them in the first round. She won the UFC Performance of the Night award for her fight against Joanne Calderwood and won two Invicta FC Fight of the Night awards for her bouts against Vanessa Porto and Roxanne Modafferi. Maia has a record of 18 wins, 7 losses, and 1 draw.
6. Satoko Shinashi
Satoko Shinashi is a Japanese fighter who is a submission expert. She is widely regarded as the best Japanese female MMA fighter of all time. She has won most of her fights by submission and was almost impossible to beat in her prime!
Shinashi won the Smackgirl Lightweight Championship and the Deep Women's Flyweight Championship. She retired in 2008 when she found out she was pregnant but she came back in 2014 where she had 5 fights and won them all. Shinashi has a record of 34 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw.
5. Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina Shevchenko is a Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian fighter who competes in the UFC under the women's flyweight division. The "Bullet" is the current UFC Women's Flyweight Champion and she got that title by defeating none other than Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Shevchenko won the gold medal at the I.F.M.A World Championship 8 times and won a silver medal the only time she participated and didn't win. She has defeated big names like Holly Holm, Sarah Kaufman, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Shevchenko has a record of 20 wins and 3 losses.
4. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is a Polish fighter who competes in the UFC under the women's flyweight and strawweight divisions. She was considered as THE best female fighter at one point but her recent form has hurt that reputation a bit. Before doing MMA she was a kickboxer winning World Championships in three different organizations.
Jedrzejczyk is a former UFC Women's Strawweight Champion. She defended her title 5 times before eventually losing it to Rose Namajunas. She also has the most wins in UFC Women's Strawweight history and the most title fights as well. Jedrzejczyk has a record of 16 wins and 4 losses.
3. Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey is a former American fighter who spent most of her career in the UFC under the women's bantamweight division. She was the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo and also won her MMA debut for King of the Cage. She has definitely had one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, impact in the world of female MMA.
Rousey beat some big names like Sarah Kaufman, Julia Budd, and Meisha Tate. She won the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Title and the UFC Women's Bantamweight Title. In 2018, she became the first woman to ever be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Rousey has a record of 12 wins and 2 losses.
2. Cristiane Justino
Cristiane Justino, better known as Cris Cyborg, is a Brazilian-American fighter who competes in Bellator MMA under the featherweight division. As of April 2021, she is the current Bellator Women's Featherweight Champion. She is also a former UFC, Invicta FC, and Strikeforce Featherweight Champion.
Justino defended her title against Hiroko Yamanaka but it was still stripped from her because she tested positive for anabolic steroids. She then won the UFC Women's Featherweight Championship until she faced Amanda Nunes. Cyborg has one of the most impressive accolades in female MMA history. Her record is 23 wins, 2 losses, and 1 no contest.
1. Amanda Nunes
Amanda Nunes is a Brazilian fighter who competes in the UFC under the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. As of April 2021, she is the current UFC Women's Bantamweight and Featherweight Champion. She is the first woman to become a two-division UFC champion.
Nunes has defeated some massive names like Valentina Shevchenko, Ronda Rousey, and Cris Cyborg. She is the first person in UFC history to successfully defend two titles in two different divisions while holding them both at the same time. She has a record of 21 wins and 4 losses. It's hard to argue that Amanda Nunes isn't the greatest ever after defeating the biggest names in women's mma and being a two division champion!