The Greats: Ranking the top 10 female fighters of all-time
It has been just over 10 years since women began competing in the UFC. Over that span the women’s divisions have created some of the sport’s biggest stars and memorable moments.
To mark the occasion, TSN polled 24 industry insiders (athletes, coaches, journalists) to come up with the top 10 best UFC female fighters of all-time.
10. Alexa Grasso
Alexa Grasso is the current UFC flyweight champion following her submission victory over Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 285.
With the victory, Grasso became the first Mexican female champion in the UFC.
The 30-year-old is 5-0 in the UFC since making the move to flyweight in 2020.
9. Miesha Tate
Miesha Tate is one of the pioneers of women’s MMA as well as a former bantamweight champion in the UFC.
Tate defeated Holly Holm via rear-naked choke at UFC 196 to capture the belt after catching her opponent with a late submission attempt.
The 37-year-old would go on to headline UFC’s landmark 200 pay-per-view in a title defence against Amanda Nunes.
The Tacoma, Wash., native retired after a loss at UFC 205 in 2016, but returned to action in 2021, eventually moving to the flyweight division.
8. Holly Holm
A decorated multiple-time world champion boxer and two-time Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year, Holly Holm made a successful move to MMA.
The 41-year-old scored one of the biggest upsets in UFC history when she knocked Ronda Rousey from the undefeated ranks with a head kick and ground and pound KO to capture the bantamweight title at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia.
After dropping the bantamweight championship, Holm had another title fight in the division and she also challenged for the featherweight belt on two occasions.
Rose Namajunas Joanna Jedrzejczyk
7. Rose Namajunas
Rose Namajunas is a two-time strawweight champion, capturing the belt with a TKO victory over Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 217 and once again by beating Zhang Weili via KO at UFC 261.
In both cases, Namajunas also won immediate rematches against the fighters she defeated to win the belts, Jędrzejczyk at UFC 223 and Zhang at UFC 268.
The 31-year-old also fought in the inaugural strawweight championship bout, which was the finale of the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter.
The Milwaukee native moved to flyweight in September of 2023.
6. Zhang Weili
Zhang Weili is the current UFC strawweight champion, her second reign with the belt.
Zhang made history at Fight Night in Shenzhen, China when she defeated Jéssica Andrade in :42 seconds via TKO to become the first Chinese champion in UFC history.
After dropping the belt to Rose Namajunas, Zhang became a two-time champion with a rear-naked choke victory over Carla Esparza at UFC 281.
The 34-year-old most recently defeated Amanda Lemos with a dominant unanimous decision at UFC 292 to once again maintain her place at the top of the strawweight division.
5. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Joanna Jędrzejczyk stormed onto the scene with 14 consecutive wins to begin her career, including eight in the UFC.
Jędrzejczyk won the strawweight title at UFC 185 and successfully defended it five times in a row before suffering her first career loss to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217.
The 36-year-old would go on to challenge for the belt she lost twice as well as one time for the flyweight title, before eventually retiring in 2022 following a loss to Zhang Weili.
Cris “Cyborg” Justino
4. Cris Cyborg
Cris Cyborg entered the UFC as one of the most dominant women in MMA history and captured the featherweight title in her third bout.
Cyborg would go on to defend the title two times before dropping it to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in December of 2018, only the second loss of her professional career and first since her MMA debut in 2005.
The 38-year-old would earn one more win in the UFC before leaving the promotion and winning her next five bouts.
Ronda Rousey Bethe Correia
3. Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey was unquestionably the first female star in the UFC, becoming the inaugural bantamweight champion upon entering the promotion as the holder of the Strikeforce belt.
Rousey built on her reputation with a series of dominant title defences, defeating Liz Carmouche, Sara McMann, Alexis Davis, Cat Zingano and Bethe Correia all via first-round stoppages.
Only Miesha Tate was able to survive the opening round during Rousey’s title-defence streak, lasting into the third before submitting to an arm bar.
The 36-year-old retired from MMA after losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.
Rousey not only opened doors in the UFC, but also outside of the promotion making multiple appearances on talk shows as well as acting in movies such as The Expendables 3, Furious 7 and Entourage.
The Riverside, Calif., native became the first woman inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018.
TSN MMA analyst Robin Black believes that Rousey’s body of work and significance should have earned her the top spot in the rankings
“The rest of the list doesn’t exist if Ronda Rousey never existed,” said Black.
2. Valentina Shevchenko
Former flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko is responsible for one of the most dominant title runs in UFC history.
Shevchenko won the vacant flyweight title by defeating former strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 231 in Toronto and went on to successfully defend the belt seven times, before losing it to Alexa Grasso at UFC 285 in March of 2023.
During her title run, Shevchenko had four stoppage victories, including a highlight-reel head kick KO win over Jessica Eye at UFC 238.
Before holding the gold, the 35-year-old fought Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title and lost a razor thin split decision at UFC 215.
1. Amanda Nunes
There have been four simultaneous two-division champions in UFC history and Amanda Nunes is the only female fighter in that exclusive club.
Nunes captured the bantamweight title in the main event of UFC 200 with a first-round submission victory over Miesha Tate and added the featherweight title to her trophy case with a first-round KO victory over Cris Cyborg at UFC 232, a win that took only :51 seconds.
The domination did not stop at winning the belts however as Nunes successfully defended the bantamweight strap six times over two stints and the featherweight title twice, before vacating both upon her retirement.
Nunes has defeated five women on this top 10 list as well as every woman to ever hold the bantamweight title in the UFC.
For those accomplishments, TSN MMA analyst Aaron Bronsteter believes it’s very clear that she has to be at the summit of this list.
“If we’re talking about overall greatness and the best, you do have to take resume into account and I think that Amanda Nunes is clearly No. 1,” said Bronsteter.