Valentina Shevchenko finally has championship gold to wrap around her waist.
Viewed as the uncrowned queen of 125 pounds as soon as the Ultimate Fighting Championship unveiled the division last year, Shevchenko made the vision a reality at UFC 231. “Bullet” stymied former muay Thai rival Joanna Jedrzejczyk at every turn, winning a clear-cut five-round verdict in Toronto to officially begin her title reign. With the win, Shevchenko moved past Jedrzejczyk and into fourth place in our latest pound-for-pound women’s rankings.
While Shevchenko may very well be settling in for a lengthy reign as flyweight queen, she hasn’t forgotten about Amanda Nunes. Following her victory at UFC 231, Shevchenko claimed she had “unfinished business” with Nunes, whom she lost to via split decision in a 135-pound title bout at UFC 215. For now, the 30-year-old will look to get to work at 125 pounds, where she vows to be very active in 2019.
Elsewhere, Claudia Gadelha and Jennifer Maia exit the pound-for-pound Top 10 after losses in their most recent bouts to make room for Germaine de Randamie, who is 4-0 across two weight classes since 2015, and Tatiana Suarez, an unbeaten wrestler coming off a dominant victory over ex-strawweight champ Carla Esparza.
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1. Amanda Nunes (16-4)Nunes strengthened her stranglehold on the women’s bantamweight division at UFC 224, where she gradually wore down Raquel Pennington to a fifth-round technical knockout in the Rio de Janeiro headliner. “Lioness” has seven consecutive wins under her belt and is now set for a lucrative superfight against featherweight queen Cris Cyborg at UFC 232 on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas.
2. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (20-1)The carnage continues for “Cyborg” in the women’s featherweight division. With the UFC 222 card in need of a headliner and less than a month to prepare, the 33-year-old Brazilian stepped in to defend her title against former Invicta bantamweight queen Yana Kunitskaya. What transpired was something more resembling a sacrifice than athletic competition, as Justino rolled to a first-round TKO win against her overmatched Russian counterpart. Next up: A superfight against 135-pound titlist Nunes is finally official for UFC 232 on Dec. 29 .
3. Rose Namajunas (8-3)Namajunas got the better of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in their rematch, outpointing her rival over the course of five hard-fought rounds in the UFC 223 headliner at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. What made the triumph more impressive than her first-round stoppage of Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 was the fact that Namajunas had to overcome adversity against an opponent who was experienced in five-round affairs. A scary thought for the rest of the division: Namajunas only seems to be getting better.
4. Valentina Shevchenko (16-3)As soon as the UFC unveiled the women’s flyweight division, many pointed to Shevchenko as the division’s uncrowned queen. That forecast proved true at UFC 231, where “Bullet” authored a complete performance to take a clear-cut decision win over Jedrzejczyk and claim the vacant 125-pound belt. In a weight class where the talent pool is thin, Shevchenko appears primed for a lengthy championship reign after dispatching what appeared to be her most significant test.
5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3)Once regarded as the top female pound-for-pound talent in the sport, Jedrzejczyk now finds herself looking up at the top of two separate divisions following a loss to Shevchenko for the vacant flyweight strap at UFC 231. While the 31-year-old Poland native showed no quit in the bout, she simply had no clear answers for her opponent over the course of the 25-minute affair. Jedrzejczyk has promised a return to 115 pounds in 2019, but the question remains if the weight cut will prove too draining as she grows older -- particularly after moving up a division..
6. Jessica Andrade (19-6)One-punch knockouts are rarely-seen in women’s MMA, so Andrade sent an emphatic message with her first-round finish of fellow former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 228. With that win, “Bate Estaca” may have very well set herself up as the next strawweight No. 1 contender for reigning champion Namajunas. Andrade has won six of her last seven in the Las Vegas-based promotion overall and called for a title shot following her knockout of Kowalkiewicz .
7. Germaine de Randamie (8-3)De Randamie’s brief reign as featherweight champion may go down as only a footnote in UFC history, but “The Iron Lady” looks like a tough out at 135 pounds. In her first bout since February 2017, the kickboxer stymied former title challenger Raquel Pennington at every turn, earning a unanimous verdict in a featured bantamweight tilt at UFC Fight Night Denver. The Netherlands native has won four straight bouts dating back to 2015.
8. Ayaka Hamasaki (16-2)The former Invicta Fighting Championships queen won for the second time in as many outings under the Rizin Fighting Federation banner, as she submitted Mina Kurobe with an opening round kimura on Sept. 30. Hamasaki has won seven of her last eight fights, with her only defeat during that time coming at the hands of current UFC strawweight talent Livinha Souza. Hamasaki will square off against another one of the world’s best atomweights when she meets Kanna Asakura at Rizin 14 on Dec. 31.
9. Julia Budd (12-2)Budd continued to cement her spot as the No. 2 female featherweight in the world, as she posted a dominant third-round technical knockout victory against Talita Nogueira in a title defense at Bellator 202. “The Jewel” has now won 10 consecutive fights since being submitted by Ronda Rousey in November 2011, and with finishes in two of her last three appearances, she is working to erase the “grinder” label that has been assigned to her in recent years.
10. Tatiana Suarez (7-0)Suarez has been touted as a future championship contender and she showed why at UFC 228, dominating ex-champ Carla Esparza for nearly three rounds before earning a TKO stoppage late in the fight. The freestyle wrestling ace improved to 4-0 within the Las Vegas-based promotion, giving her the longest active winning streak in the division and setting up a fight with another highly-ranked contender.
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, Nathan Zur, Kevin Wilson, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Guy Portman, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Mark Raymundo, Jordan Colbert, Jordan Breen, Mike Sloan, Tom Feely, Adam Martin and Joao Baptista.