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1. Ayaka Hamasaki (19-2)Hamasaki’s latest outing at Rizin 18 wasn’t without some difficulties. The atomweight queen had her back taken and was mounted by Suwanan Boonsorn in the early going, but the 37-year-old Tokyo native rallied submit her adversary with an armbar at the 3:20 mark of the opening frame. That makes five consecutive victories for Hamasaki – including a cross-promotional title defense against Invicta champ Jinh Yu Frey – since she lost to Livinha Souza via first-round knockout in a strawweight contest at Invicta FC 22.
2. Seo Hee Ham (21-8)Ham continues to do well at her natural weight class following a 1-3 stint in the UFC at strawweight. Ham extended her winning streak to four in her Rizin debut, as she stopped Tomo Maesawa with knees at the 3:14 mark of Round 1 in Saitama, Japan on July 28. “Hamderlei Silva” has finished three of her four foes during her current tear, also earning stoppages of Jinh Yu Frey and Mina Kurobe.
3. Jinh Yu Frey (8-4)For two rounds, Frey held her own with Ayaka Hamasaki at Rizin 16 – and many observers believe the Invicta champ might have even been getter the better of her opponent. Alas, a strong third frame gave Hamasaki a decision victory and prevented Frey from returning to Invicta with two title belts in tow. Frey hasn’t fared so well in cross-promotional bouts, as she was also knocked out by Road FC atomweight titlist Seo Hee Ham in December 2017. Frey is expected to next defend her Invicta belt against Ashley Cummins — whom she previously defeated in July 2017 — at Invicta FC 37 on Oct. 4.
4. Miyuu Yamamoto (5-3)Yamamoto has righted the ship in a major way since beginning her professional career with losses in three of her first four fights. The 44-year-old Krazy Bee representative earned her fourth consecutive triumph at Rizin 16, upsetting 21-year-old rising star Kanna Asakura in a featured contest. Yamamoto has gone the distance in each of her four victories, also besting Mika Nagano, Andy Nguyen and Saori Ishioka under the Rizin banner.
5. Kanna Asakura (15-4)Asakura relied on her boxing to capture a hard-fought split-decision triumph over Invicta FC prospect Alesha Zappitella at Rizin 18 on Aug. 18 in Nagoya, Japan. The 21-year-old Paraestra Matsudo member rebounded nicely from an upset loss to Miyuu Yamamoto in her last outing at Rizin 16. Asakura owns an 8-3 record in the Japanese promotion, a mark that includes a victory in the Rizin atomweight grand prix in 2018.
6. Rena Kubota (8-3)Kubota moved to a 112-pound catchweight in order to represent Rizin at Bellator 222. The result wasn’t pretty, as the Shoot Boxing queen fell victim to a Lindsey VanZandt rear-naked choke 4:04 into the opening stanza of their matchup at Madison Square Garden. Since the defeat came out of her natural division, Kubota’s status in the atomweight rankings won’t be negatively affected. Nonetheless, the 27-year-old Osaka, Japan, native has lost three of her last five MMA contests dating back to New Year’s Eve 2017.
7. Maria de Oliveira Neta (10-4)Neta, a product of Brazil’s Parana Vale Tudo impressed in her Rizin 108-pound grand prix quarterfinal against Alyssa Garcia in October and dominated the American with sharp striking. However, Neta 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. Neta took another defeat on the Brazilian version of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series, falling to Marina Alcalde Rodriguez via first-round TKO. However, that bout was contested at strawweight, and Rodriguez has since signed a UFC deal.
8. Ashley Cummins (7-4)Cummins’ decision to move down to 105 pounds following her loss on “The Ultimate Fighter 23” continues to pay dividends. “Smashley” garnered a unanimous verdict over Jessica Correa Delboni at Invicta FC 32 for her second consecutive triumph. Cummins has won four of her last five bouts since 2016, with her only setback during that run coming in a competitive decision loss to Invicta champ Jinh Yu Frey. Cummins will get a chance to avenge that defeat when she challenges for Frey’s title at Invicta FC 37.
9. Minna Grusander (6-3)Grusander hasn’t hurt her stock much in two bouts with Jinh Yu Frey, but she hasn’t emerged with a victory, either. “Brutsku” dropped a split verdict to Frey in their rematch at Invicta FC 33 after losing a somehow more controversial unanimous decision in their first meeting. The 29-year-old Finland native has nonetheless proven to be a tough out at 105 pounds and should be in line for another interesting matchup in the all-female promotion.
10. Viviane Pereira (14-3)After a three-fight losing streak against the likes of Tatiana Suarez, Xiaonan Yan and Mizuki Inoue prompted Pereira to exit the strawweight division, the 25-year-old Brazilian tested the waters at atomweight at Invicta FC 35. “Sucuri” was successful in the cage, taking a three-round verdict over Alesha Zappitella, but the scales were a different story, as she checked in at 106.7 pounds prior to the matchup. If she is to remain a fixture in the rankings, Pereira must prove she can make weight consistently.
Other Contenders: Alesha Zappitella, Kyra Batara, Tomo Maesawa, Mina Kurobe, Lisbeth Lopez Silva.
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, Tyler Treese, Keith Shillan, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Guy Portman, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Cole Shelton, Abhinav Kini, Mike Sloan and Tom Feely.