1. Ronda Rousey (10-0)The world’s top female fighter notched yet another blistering victory at UFC 175. This time, it was Alexis Davis who had the misfortune of crossing Rousey’s path, and the UFC women’s bantamweight ace made Davis pay with a 16-second knockout. Cleared to train after knee surgery in July, Rousey is preparing for a February showdown with Cat Zingano, after which she will take time off to continue her budding movie career.
2. Cat Zingano (9-0)Returning from a 17-month absence, Zingano showed why she is still the division’s top contender at UFC 178. The “Alpha Cat” weathered a heavy storm of ground-and-pound from Amanda Nunes before turning the tables and pounding out the fatigued Brazilian in round three. The win secured Zingano a long-awaited title shot at Ronda Rousey at UFC 184 in February.
3. Sara McMann (8-1)McMann’s wrestling skills alone carried her to a unanimous decision win against previously unbeaten Lauren Murphy on Aug. 16, marking the Olympian’s first victory since falling to Ronda Rousey in February. McMann will next face longtime divisional stalwart Miesha Tate at UFC 183 on Jan. 31.
4. Miesha Tate (15-5)Tate used improved striking and submission defense to fend off highly touted Japanese newcomer Rin Nakai on Sept. 20. “Cupcake” has rebounded from a 1-3 run with back-to-back wins against Nakai and Liz Carmouche, but it may be tough for Tate to earn another title shot as long as old rival Ronda Rousey retains the belt. She will draw another top-flight opponent at UFC 183, where she will battle Sara McMann on Jan. 31.
5. Alexis Davis (16-6)To say things did not go Davis’ way at UFC 175 would be a massive understatement. The Canadian saw her five-fight winning streak snapped in brutal fashion when she was ragdolled to the ground and punched unconscious by Ronda Rousey in just 16 seconds.
6. Sarah Kaufman (17-2, 1 NC)Kaufman put on a striking clinic against Leslie Smith to garner her first UFC triumph at “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” Finale. The ex-Strikeforce titlist overwhelmed Smith with volume and accuracy over the course of their three-round encounter, landing multi-punch combinations, knees to the body and kicks to the legs en route to recording a unanimous verdict.
7. Jessica Eye (11-2, 1 NC)Eye did damage to the ear of Leslie Smith at UFC 180, as the Ohioan used quick, crisp punching to rupture Smith’s cauliflower and force a second-round doctor stoppage. The victory puts Eye back on track following a hard-luck decision loss to Alexis Davis in February.
8. Lauren Murphy (8-1)Entering the Octagon at 8-0, former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Murphy looked to make a splash against Sara McMann and put herself on the fast track to title contention. Instead, the 31-year-old Alaska native was ground out for three rounds by McMann’s Olympic-caliber wrestling, giving Murphy her first defeat despite offering considerable resistence from her back.
9. Bethe Correia (9-0)Correia remained unbeaten and captured the biggest win of her young career at UFC 177, where she smashed Shayna Baszler with a second-round flurry of fists and elbows. With Baszler and Jessamyn Duke behind her, the 31-year-old Brazilian is now gunning for the leader of the “Four Horsewomen,” Ronda Rousey. However, Correia will likely need another win or two while the UFC women’s champion deals with current contenders.
10. Jessica Andrade (12-3)Since stumbling in her UFC debut against Liz Carmouche, 22-year-old Andrade has looked increasingly impressive, employing aggressive striking and a savvy ground game to rack up three straight wins. The Brazilian’s latest victory came on home soil, as she submitted previously unbeaten countrywoman Larissa Pacheco on Sept. 13.
Other Contenders: Liz Carmouche, Tonya Evinger, Holly Holm, Rin Nakai, Amanda Nunes.
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