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On a Rizin Fighting Federation 18 card where one of the year’s biggest upsets occurred, it was another night at the office for atomweight queen Ayaka Hamasaki.
Hamasaki battled through some adversity in her co-headlining bout against Suwanan Boonsorn, as her opponent took her back and mounted her early on in the initial stanza. Eventually, though, Hamasaki asserted her will and locked in an armbar to elicit a tapout at the 3:20 mark of Round 1, assuring that she would not share a fate with Kyoji Horiguchi, who suffered a shocking KO loss in the evening’s headliner. That makes five consecutive victories for Hamasaki since moving down from strawweight, and she holds steady as the No. 9 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world as a result.
1. Amanda Nunes (18-4)Nunes continued to make her case as the female “GOAT” at UFC 239, where she patiently waited for an opening before dispatching Holly Holm with a head kick and follow-up punches 4:10 into the opening stanza of their co-main event encounter at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That makes nine consecutive victories for “Lioness,” including six in title bouts. With a resume that also includes wins over the likes of Cristiane Justino, Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Germaine de Randamie, the next task is simply finding a suitable challenge for the two-division champion. After Justino parted ways with the UFC, Nunes was booked against de Randamie in a bantamweight title tilt at UFC 245 on Dec. 14.
2. Valentina Shevchenko (18-3)It was far from enthralling, but Shevchenko was in completely control throughout her title defense against Liz Carmouche in the UFC Uruguay headliner. Even though her volume was lacking, a technical “Bullet” floored her opponent twice and did well in grappling exchanges with the physical Carmouche. The end result was a sweep of the scorecards and the fourth consecutive 125-pound victory for the reigning champion. The 31-year-old Tiger Muay Thai representative now owns victories over Carmouche, Jessica Eye and Joanna Jedrzejczyk in title bouts and continues to look like one of the most dominant champions in any UFC division..
3. Jessica Andrade (20-6)Andrade battled through adversity to claim strawweight gold at UFC 237. The Brazilian was confounded by Rose Namajunas in the early going of their main even bout in Rio de Janeiro, as “Bate Estaca” was bloodied and dropped by her opponent. Once Andrade was better able to close the distance, however, things changed, and she became the promotion’s fourth 115-pound queen after knocking Namajunas unconscious with a slam in the second stanza. In a somewhat surprising twist, Andrade’s first title defense will come against Weili Zhang in China on Aug. 31.
4. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (21-2)It was only natural to wonder how “Cyborg” would fare coming off her first defeat in more than 13 years, but the heavy-handed Brazilian bounced back nicely at UFC 240, earning a unanimous decision victory against Felicia Spencer in the evening’s co-main event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on July 27. It was the last fight on Justino’s UFC deal, and shortly thereafter promotion head Dana White confirmed that he was “out of the Cyborg business,” clearing the way for the ex-champ to join another organization. Regardless, Justino re-established herself as the clear No. 2 featherweight in the world.
5. Rose Namajunas (8-4)Namajunas looked sharp in her second title defense at UFC 237. That is, until challenger Jessica Andrade knocked her unconscious with a slam 2:58 into the second round of their headlining bout in Rio de Janeiro. Namajunas’ reaction after the defeat was one of relief, and it seems as though the 26-year-old could be leaning toward an early retirement. If she does decide to stick around, “Thug” Rose has shown a propensity to make great strides from bout to bout, and that includes UFC 237, where she battered, bloodied and dropped Andrade on the feet. Given a little more time to clear her head, it’s possible that Namajunas’ perspective could change, but don’t expect a quick turnaround either way.
6. 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 Valentina 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 will return to 115 pounds for her next Octagon appearance when she faces Michelle Waterson at UFC Fight Night in Tampa on Oct. 12.
7. Germaine de Randamie (9-3)De Randamie made a great case to be the bantamweight No. 1 contender at UFC Sacramento, where she starched the previously unbeaten Aspen Ladd in just 16 seconds in the evening’s headliner. That makes five consecutive victories for the Dutch kickboxer, a streak that also includes wins over Raquel Pennington and Holly Holm. With Cristiane Justino out of the picture, “The Iron Lady” will get a chance to avenge a previous loss to Amanda Nunes when they square off for 135-pound gold at UFC 245.
8. Julia Budd (13-2)Budd continued to display her newfound penchant for finishing fights at Bellator 224, as she wiped out the previously unbeaten Olga Rubin at the 2:14 mark of Round 1 in the evening’s headliner in Thackerville, Okla., on June 12. The 36-year-old “Jewel” extended her winning streak to 11 with the fastest stoppage of her career and has now finished three of her last four foes under the Bellator banner. Budd has already targeted matchups with recent signee Leslie Smith or Rizin powerhouse Gabi Garcia in a potential cross-promotional duel.
9. 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.
10. Tatiana Suarez (8-0)Suarez may still very well be a future champion, but she showed some flaws in a victory over Nina Ansaroff at UFC 238. The American used her wrestling to bank two rounds on the judges scorecards, but faded in the third round. Perhaps even more concerning was Ansaroff’s ability to land offense in the final stanza. Nonetheless, Suarez captured a unanimous decision for her fifth consecutive triumph within the Las Vegas-based promotion. The Milennia MMA product doesn’t feel as though she needs more seasoning: After the victory, she called out reigning 115-pound queen Jessica Andrade.
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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, Eric Stinton, Ben Duffy, Jay Pettry, Jacob Debets, Keith Shillan, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Guy Portman, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Cole Shelton, Abhinav Kini, Mike Sloan, Tom Feely and Tyler Treese.