1. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (11-0)Jedrzejczyk failed to record a third consecutive knockout but retained her title nonetheless with a gritty and technical five-round decision over Valerie Letourneau at UFC 193. “Joanna Champion” has now defended the UFC 115-pound strap twice since snatching it from Carla Esparza in March and has racked up five Octagon victories in just 16 months under Zuffa employ. Her next defense will have to wait for now, as Jedrzejczyk underwent surgery to repair a broken right hand in late November.
2. Claudia Gadelha (13-1)Gadelha rudely welcomed Jessica Aguilar to the Octagon on Aug. 1 in a three-round unanimous decision which saw the Brazilian utilizing powerful and precise striking, along with some well-timed takedowns. The win secured a title shot for the Nova Uniao black belt, though “Claudinha” will need to recover from a broken finger before rematching Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
3. Jessica Aguilar (19-5)The former World Series of Fighting titlist was outgunned and outclassed in her Octagon debut, as “JAG” was busted up by Brazilian bruiser Claudia Gadelha at UFC 190. The loss snapped a 10-fight winning streak for Aguilar, who held the division’s top ranking only months ago.
4. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (8-0)There were no “Octagon jitters” for Kowalkiewicz on Dec. 20, when she put on an impressive and well-rounded performance to claim a unanimous decision against Randa Markos. The unbeaten Polish strawweight silenced the “Quiet Storm” by shutting down nearly all of Markos’ takedown attempts while nearly doubling up on the Canadian in total strikes landed.
5. Carla Esparza (10-3)Esparza’s reign as inaugural UFC strawweight champion lasted only three months, as “The Ultimate Fighter 20” winner was decimated by Polish puncher Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event of UFC 185. The Californian relied heavily on her wrestling base to claim the belt but could not take down Jedrzejczyk, leading to a second-round knockout. It was the first stoppage loss of Esparza’s career, and her first defeat since dropping a closely contested split decision to Jessica Aguilar in 2011.
6. Valerie Letourneau (8-4)Letourneau proved tougher competition than most expected for Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 193, where the challenger became the first woman to take the Polish titlist into championship rounds. After a solid start on the feet, however, “Trouble” was gradually busted up by Jedrzejczyk’s crisp striking, and the Canadian’s Octagon winning streak was halted at three.
7. Maryna Moroz (6-1)Moroz could not consolidate her upset of Joanne Calderwood with a second straight UFC victory, as she wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Valerie Letourneau on Aug. 23. Still, the 23-year-old Ukrainian boxer holds considerable promise: Moroz finished her first six opponents, five of them inside one round.
8. Tecia Torres (7-0)Under the bright lights at UFC 194, Torres put on her most impressive showing to date, battering late replacement Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger for 15 minutes with nonstop movement and overwhelming combination striking. The “Tiny Tornado” remains technically unbeaten -- Torres suffered a pair of exhibition losses during her stint on “The Ultimate Fighter” -- and now figures to be only a win or two away from title contention.
9. Joanne Calderwood (10-1)Fighting before a hometown crowd in Glasgow on July 18, Calderwood survived a first-round assault from last-minute replacement Cortney Casey and pushed back to take a unanimous decision from the UFC debutante. “Jojo” was set for her first headlining slot opposite Paige VanZant on Dec. 10, but a knee injury forced Calderwood to withdraw.
10. Livia Renata Souza (8-0)Souza became the first woman to stop Finnish grinder Katja Kankaanpaa on April 24, claiming victory and the Invicta strawweight title with a fourth-round triangle choke. The Brazilian, who has seven submission wins in her first eight bouts, will make her first title defense in January against DeAnna Bennett in the main event of Invicta FC 15.
Other Contenders: DeAnna Bennett, Kalindra Faria, Alexa Grasso, Rose Namajunas, Jessica Penne.