Sherdog’s Official Mixed Martial Arts Rankings

Rizin Champs on Rise

By Staff Jan 3, 2018
After UFC 219, the women’s featherweight division remains the same. However, the events of Rizin Fighting Federation’s New Years’ festivities have shaken up the atomweight rankings in unexpected ways.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas made the first defense of her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s featherweight title, hammering out a diligent and clear unanimous decision over former bantamweight queen Holly Holm. This result was largely expected. Hours later, Rizin concluded its men’s bantamweight and women’s 108-pound -- yes, we are sensitive to the weight discrepancy -- tournaments. These brackets wound up making waves.

Already our No. 4 flyweight, Kyoji Horiguchi was the focal point of Rizin’s bantamweight grand prix in 2017, returning to the weight class in which he started his career. In a 48-hour span, he crushed and stopped quality fighters Gabriel Leite de Oliveira and Manel Kape before earning a second career win over 135-pound King of Pancrase Shintaro Ishiwatari, one of our bubble-list contenders. Horiguchi’s dual-division credentials cannot be denied, as he takes the No. 10 spot on our bantamweight list.

Our biggest mover in this update is 20-year-old Kanna Asakura, who went a sensational 6-0 in 2017. On New Year’s Eve at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, she won Rizin’s grand prix and did so with shocking dominance. After wrecking Brazilian Maria de Oliveira Neta’s nine-fight winning streak with a second-round armbar, Asakura returned to finish previously undefeated poster girl Rena Kubota in the tournament final, choking her out in the first round.

After the events of Rizin’s Dec. 31 card, Asakura rises from No. 8 to third on our atomweight list, while the previously ninth-ranked Kubota now clocks in at No. 7. They are not the only risers: Road Fighting Championship atomweight queen Seo Hee Ham defended her title at Road 45 on Dec. 23 in Seoul, punching out former Invicta Fighting Championships title challenger Jinh Yu Frey in the first round. “Hamderlei Silva” is back in her natural weight class and crushing elite opposition. She rises to No. 2 at 105 pounds.

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