Amanda Nunes was already No. 1 -- at least in our book. Now, “Lioness” can make a legitimate claim to being the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time.
Nunes scored a brutal 51-second knockout of Cris Cyborg in the UFC 232 co-headliner, joining Daniel Cormier and Conor McGregor as the only simultaneous two-division champions in promotion history. Already the top ranked fighter in Sherdog.com’s previous women’s pound-for-pound Top 10, Nunes adds “Cyborg” to a resume that includes Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Julia Budd, Miesha Tate, Sara McMann and Germaine de Randamie, to name a few. On the basis of her two narrow losses to Nunes, Shevchenko, the UFC’s flyweight queen, moves ahead of Justino and into the second spot in our rankings.
Elsewhere, Ayaka Hamasaki maintained her spot in the rankings thanks to a submission victory over Kanna Asakura in an atomweight title bout at Rizin 14 on New Year’s Eve. Hamasaki has won three straight fights under the Rizin banner since returning to her natural weight class.
1. Amanda Nunes (17-4)Nunes became just the third simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history when she knocked out Cris Cyborg in just 51 seconds to claim featherweight gold at UFC 232. Nunes needed just three seconds longer to dispatch “Cyborg” than she did when she demolished former pound-for-pound queen Ronda Rousey two years earlier at UFC 207. With a resume that also includes wins over the likes of UFC flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Bellator featherweight titlist Julia Budd, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie and Raquel Pennington, “Lioness” has a legitimate claim to being the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time.
2. Valentina Shevchenko (16-3)As soon as the UFC unveiled the women’s flyweight division, many pointed to Shevchenko as the division’s uncrowned queen. That forecast proved true at UFC 231, where “Bullet” authored a complete performance to take a clear-cut decision win over Jedrzejczyk and claim the vacant 125-pound belt. In a weight class where the talent pool is thin, Shevchenko appears primed for a lengthy championship reign after dispatching what appeared to be her most significant test.
3. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (20-2)It took more than 13 years, but “Cyborg” finally suffered her second professional defeat.Justino was separated from her featherweight crown in emphatic fashion at UFC 232, where she suffered a shocking 51-second knockout loss at the hands of reigning bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes. The heavy-handed Brazilian remains the clear No. 2 in the division, but whether she gets an immediate rematch against Nunes remains to be seen.
4. Rose Namajunas (8-3)Namajunas got the better of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in their rematch, outpointing her rival over the course of five hard-fought rounds in the UFC 223 headliner at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. What made the triumph more impressive than her first-round stoppage of Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 was the fact that Namajunas had to overcome adversity against an opponent who was experienced in five-round affairs. A scary thought for the rest of the division: Namajunas only seems to be getting better.
5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3)Once regarded as the top female pound-for-pound talent in the sport, Jedrzejczyk now finds herself looking up at the top of two separate divisions following a loss to Shevchenko for the vacant flyweight strap at UFC 231. While the 31-year-old Poland native showed no quit in the bout, she simply had no clear answers for her opponent over the course of the 25-minute affair. Jedrzejczyk has promised a return to 115 pounds in 2019, but the question remains if the weight cut will prove too draining as she grows older -- particularly after moving up a division.
6. Jessica Andrade (19-6)One-punch knockouts are rarely-seen in women’s MMA, so Andrade sent an emphatic message with her first-round finish of fellow former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 228. With that win, “Bate Estaca” may have very well set herself up as the next strawweight No. 1 contender for reigning champion Namajunas. Andrade has won six of her last seven in the Las Vegas-based promotion overall and called for a title shot following her knockout of Kowalkiewicz.
7. Germaine de Randamie (8-3)De Randamie’s brief reign as featherweight champion may go down as only a footnote in UFC history, but “The Iron Lady” looks like a tough out at 135 pounds. In her first bout since February 2017, the kickboxer stymied former title challenger Raquel Pennington at every turn, earning a unanimous verdict in a featured bantamweight tilt at UFC Fight Night Denver. The Netherlands native has won four straight bouts dating back to 2015.
8. Ayaka Hamasaki (17-2)Hamasaki solidified her position as the world’s top atomweight at Rizin 14, where she submitted Kanna Asakura with an armbar 4:34 into the second round of their bout to claim the Japanese promotion’s inaugural 105-pound crown. Since her loss to current UFC talent Livia Renata Souza in a strawweight bout at Invicta FC 22, the 36-year-old Tokyo native has reeled off triumphs over Asakura, Mina Kurobe and Alyssa Garcia under the Rizin banner.
9. Julia Budd (12-2)Budd continued to cement her spot as the No. 2 female featherweight in the world, as she posted a dominant third-round technical knockout victory against Talita Nogueira in a title defense at Bellator 202. “The Jewel” has now won 10 consecutive fights since being submitted by Ronda Rousey in November 2011, and with finishes in two of her last three appearances, she is working to erase the “grinder” label that has been assigned to her in recent years.
10. Tatiana Suarez (7-0)Suarez has been touted as a future championship contender and she showed why at UFC 228, dominating ex-champ Carla Esparza for nearly three rounds before earning a TKO stoppage late in the fight. The freestyle wrestling ace improved to 4-0 within the Las Vegas-based promotion, giving her the longest active winning streak in the division and setting up a fight with another highly-ranked contender.
Sherdog’s divisional and pound-for-pound rankings are compiled by a panel of Sherdog.com staff members and contributors: Tristen Critchfield, Mike Fridley, Brian Knapp, Jesse Denis, Eric Stinton, Ben Duffy, Jay Pettry, Jacob Debets, Nathan Zur, Kevin Wilson, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Guy Portman, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Mark Raymundo, Jordan Colbert, Jordan Breen, Mike Sloan, Tom Feely, Adam Martin and Joao Baptista.