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The 5 Greatest Female Fighters in UFC History

The UFC began putting on women’s bouts in 2013. Since then, a number of outstanding female fighters have graced the Octagon. 

 

While no single list could ever be truly definitive, it’s clear that a few women have stood out from the rest. Looking back on the last 10-plus years of women in the UFC, let’s see who experts say are the five best female fighters in the promotion’s history. 

 

5. Joanna Jędrzejczyk 

 

Over the course of her decade-long MMA career, this former Muay Thai champion regularly pummeled opponents with her world-class striking. Despite not having fought since 2022, she still holds the UFC record for most strawweight wins. 

 

Hailing from Poland, Jędrzejczyk won her first six professional MMA fights before joining the UFC in 2014. After tallying two wins with the promotion, she challenged Carla Esparaza for the UFC strawweight titles. The Polish fighter beat the “Cookie Monster” via TKO and went on to successfully defend the belt five times. 

 

Jędrzejczyk lost five of her final seven fights, but this period saw her earn the respect of MMA fans by never backing down from a challenge. Each of her defeats came against fellow all-time greats, and she even went up in weight to challenge Valentina Shevchenko for the flyweight championship. 

 

4. Cris Cyborg 

 

The inclusion of Cyborg on this list may be controversial given that she only fought seven times in the UFC. She made her mark in that time, however, by winning the featherweight title and, in the process, adding to her already considerable legacy.  

 

Even before coming to the UFC, Cyborg had built a resume as one of the most dominant female fighters in MMA history. She had lost only once—in her first professional bout—before going on to become a champion in Strikeforce and Invicta. A brawler known for her incredible power, she rarely let her fights go to the scorecards.  

 

Cyborg went 6-1 over the course of her UFC career, with her lone defeat coming against Amanda Nunes in 2018. She hasn’t lost since and most recently defended her Bellator title in October 2023 with a first-round knockout win. Had she spent more of her career in the UFC, she may have ranked even higher on this list. 

 

3. Ronda Rousey 

 

Ronda Rousey broke down barriers inside and outside of the Octagon. She was responsible for changing UFC CEO Dana White’s mind about having women fight in the promotion. After becoming the UFC’s first female star, she broke through to the mainstream, appearing in movies, on talk shows, and in the WWE. 

 

“Rowdy” achieved stardom on the strength of her exceptional skill. An Olympic bronze medalist in judoka, she scored finishes in her first 12 fights, with only Miesha Tate lasting past the first round. Even her losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes had a seismic impact, as they made her opponents stars. 

 

Simply put, Rousey was a pioneer whose influence in MMA can’t be understated. It’s only fitting, then, that she was the first woman to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. 

 

2. Valentina Shevchenko 

 

This Kyrgyzstan native has applied the training passed on by her kickboxer mother to become one of the most effective strikers in UFC history. She’s stopped eight opponents via knockout or technical knockout, and her fight-ending head kick on Jessica Eye at UFC 238 has graced many a highlight reel. 

 

Despite not being a natural bantamweight, Shevchenko never shied away from taking on bigger fighters, scoring wins over the likes of Holly Holm. While she twice came up short against Amanda Nunes, “The Lioness” couldn’t finish her, and their second fight—a razor-thin split decision—pushed Nunes to the brink. 

 

After the UFC created the flyweight division, Shevchenko became its champion by beating Jędrzejczyk. She then ran off seven straight defenses, including a revenge victory over Liz Carmouche, who had beaten “Bullet” nearly a decade before. Thirty-six years old as of March 2024, Shevchenko most recently drew against Alexa Grasso and intends to keep fighting. 

 

1. Amanda Nunes 

 

There was never any doubt as to who would be No. 1 on this list. Simply put, Amanda Nunes did it all over her decade-long career in the UFC. 

 

Shevchenko, Cyborg, Rousey, Holm, Germaine de Randamie—Nunes beat each of these all-time greats and more, often in dominant fashion. She won the bantamweight title from Miesha Tate in 2016 and, three years later, challenged Cyborg for the featherweight belt. Some doubted her power would translate to the heavier weight class, but it did: she finished as the No. 4 fighter on this list in less than a minute. 

 

Nunes made nine straight title defenses across bantamweight and featherweight. She was submitted by Julia Pena at UFC 269, but she won back her title seven months later with a unanimous decision victory over the “Venezuela Vixen.” After beating Irene Aldana at UFC 289, Nunes retired from the sport on top.  

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