1. Ayaka Hamasaki (15-2)Hamasaki managed to put the memory of her first-round knockout loss to Livia Renata Souza in the rearview mirror, as she returned to the win column with a three-round verdict over Alyssa Garcia at Rizin Fighting Federation 10 on May 8. Hamasaki has vacated her Invicta Fighting Championships atomweight crown and figures to continue to compete in Rizin, where she will return to action against Mina Kurobe on Sept. 30.
2. Seo Hee Ham (19-8)After several tough bouts did not break her way, Ham was released from the UFC with a 1-3 promotional record and a lot of what-if propositions. If one of those hypotheticals involved how Ham would do back in her natural weight class, well, now we know. Upon returning to 105 pounds, Ham ran roughshod over veteran Mina Kurobe to take Road Fighting Championship’s vacant atomweight title. Then on Dec. 23, she blew away former Invicta title challenger Jinh Yu Frey in the first round. “Hamderlei Silva” is back in full effect.
3. Kanna Asakura (13-2)Asakura scored a significant victory at Rizin 11, outpointing fellow Top-10 atomweight Rena Kubota in the main event at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Asakura’s current eight-bout winning streak includes a championship in Rizin’s 108-pound grand prix, as she continues to establish herself as one of the top lighter-weight fighters in the world.
4. Jinh Yu Frey (7-3)It was not the cleanest of victories, but a controversial win is nonetheless a win. Frey now sits atop the Invicta Fighting Championships atomweight division following a five-round verdict over Finland’s Minna Grusander at Invicta 30. The triumph also erases the sting of a first-round knockout loss to Seo Hee Ham in a bid for the vacant Road Fighting Championship crown in December. Frey is 5-2 under the Invicta banner.
5. Mina Kurobe (11-3)The reigning Deep Jewels atomweight queen, Kurobe has won seven of her last eight fights. The 41-year-old grappler successfully defended her crown for the first time on March 10, as she earned a decision over Satomi Takano at Deep Jewels 19. Kurobe will next square off against former Invicta 105-pound titlist Ayaka Hamasaki at Rizin 13 on Sept. 30.
6. Rena Kubota (6-2)After being choked out by Kanna Asakura in the final of Rizin Fighting Federation’s 108-pound grand prix in 2017, Kubota had a chance for revenge at Rizin 11. Alas, the Shoot Boxing star came up short once again in the rematch, this time via decision. The 27-year-old remains a formidable talent with a reputation for finishing, as six of her seven career triumphs have come inside the distance.
7. Maria Oliveira Mota (10-3)Another product of Brazil’s Parana Vale Tudo, which is home to perhaps the deepest stable of women’s MMA talent in the world, Mota impressed in her Rizin 108-pound grand prix quarterfinal against Alyssa Garcia in October and dominated the American with sharp striking. However, Oliveira had her nine-fight winning streak snapped on New Year’s Eve in the tournament semifinals, as she had no answer the grappling of Kanna Asakura, who armbarred her in the second round.
8. Ashley Cummins (6-4)Cummins opted to move down to 105 pounds following her loss on “The Ultimate Fighter 23,” and the move continues to pay dividends. Coming off of a competitive loss to former Invicta title challenger Jinh Yu Frey in July, “Smashley” responded handily at Invicta 27 on Jan. 13, pounding out a unanimous verdict over Stephanie Alba. Cummins has won three of her last four.
9. Minna Grusander (6-2)It appeared that Grusander was more active than opponent Jinh Yu Frey in their clash for the vacant atomweight strap at Invicta Fighting Championships 30. While the Finland native’s clinch work and occasional offense surpassed Frey’s efforts, Grusander ultimately lost a unanimous decision. Given the close nature of the setback, Grusander’s stock should not fall significantly.
10. Jeong Eun Park (4-3-1)After a 0-2 star to her career, Park finds her stock on the rise. The 21-year-old South Korean wunderkind won for the third time in four appearances at Deep Jewels 20, where she took a three-round unanimous decision from Emi Tomimatsu at Shinjuku Face on June 9 in Tokyo. Park will look to build further momentum in September, when she confronts Tomo Maesawa at Deep Jewels 21.
Other Contenders: Kyra Batara, Lisbeth Lopez Silva, Tessa Simpson, Satomi Takano, Emi Tomimatsu
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, James Nietering, Eric Stinton, Ben Duffy, Jay Pettry, Jacob Debets, Nathan Zur, Kevin Wilson, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Mark Raymundo, Jordan Colbert, Jordan Breen, Mike Sloan and Joao Baptista.