In the last five years, Women’s MMA has travelled quite a distance. Five years ago today, MMATorch columnist Brad Walker ranked the top five women poised to become the face of Women’s MMA. Ronda Rousey came in at no. 2. Read on to see how things have gone compared to Walker’s forecast…
Let me start off by saying this: I don’t believe for half of a heartbeat that we as a community of fans can even consider Gina Carano a candidate for the face of women’s MMA any longer. She just starred in her first big budget movie and is going to clearly continue on that path signing on to star in another. She was a fantastic competitor in the cage while MMA was her main focus, but now she has decided on another path. As the people and fans who supported her through her fighting career, I feel we all owe it to her to say she was one of the originals, but is no longer truly considered a fighter. Now let’s get started on this list, because it might have more names than anyone would expect.
Candidate #1; Miesha “Take Down” Tate (12-2)
Miesha is currently the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, and is about to have one of the toughest fights of her career on March 3. She earned her first title fight by winning a one night tournament in which she competed twice. Not many people expected the finish that Tate gave us in her fight with Marloes Coenen, as she submitted the submission expert with an arm-triangle choke and secured Strikeforce gold. She is a rabid wrestler with powerful striking, and her takedowns are definitely her strongest asset aside from her never say die attitude. She makes an awfully powerful case for candidacy in this category, as she does currently hold the most prestigious belt in Women’s MMA.
Candidate #2: “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (4-0)
Ronda Rousey, the armbar assassin, has essentially become famous overnight for her incredibly fast and effective submission skills. She will be taking on the previously mentioned Miesha Tate for her championship on March 3. Rousey has had four professional fights, and in those four fights has won inside of a minute with an armbar every time. Her total time in cage is just under two and a half minutes. If you think about the amount of damage she has done in the women’s ranks versus how long she’s been in the cage you come to one conclusion: she’s a monster. Rousey has not shied away from the challenge of Miesha Tate, and has done her fair amount of trash talk in preparation for their fight. Her record, and ability to end fights in the blink of an eye, make her an incredible candidate for this slot, but her lack of experience may inevitably undo all of that. Perhaps that will see in March.
Candidate #3: Felice “Little Bulldog” Herrig (5-4)
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that Herrig doesn’t have the most impressive record in women’s MMA, but she is probably the most determined athlete of the bunch. She will stand and swing from bell to bell and take every punch she has to in order to gain an extra step on her opponent. Did I mention that prior to making the jump to mixed martial arts she was a top five ranked kick-boxer in the international kick-boxing federation, with a record of 23 wins and 5 losses? Her opponents have shown time and again they do not want to stand with her because of her knockout power; and it’s hard to blame them. Currently Herrig has been fighting in XFC, but until she gets into a larger promotion we will be waiting to see her full potential as a fighter. She has the skills and athleticism to do it, now she just needs the opportunity.
Candidate #4: Cris “Cyborg” Santos (10-1-1)
Cyborg is perhaps the most dominant female fighter on the planet, and in my opinion very clearly the scariest. She has knocked out all but two of the opponents she has defeated, and her only loss came via submission in her debut fight – to a double kneebar. The problem for Cyborg is now that she has tested positive for steroids, we don’t know when and where she will fight next, or for that matter what organization it will be for. She dethroned the infamous Gina Carano in 2009 and hasn’t looked back even for a glance. Her legacy has been permanently stained due to the mixture of her physique and positive steroid test, so who knows where she stands in legitimacy now.
Candidate #5; Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii (25-1)
As dominant and scary as Cyborg is on her feet, Megumi is the scariest female fighter perhaps in the world on the ground. Her one and only loss came in a title fight in Bellator via split decision – but that has certainly not dampened the aura of dominance she has. With a mind bending 19 submission wins, she has shown off what can happen when you master Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and Sambo. I’ve watched many of her fights, and let me tell you – I don’t know how anyone signs contracts to fight her, because you immediately put yourself at risk of losing a limb. If she ever manages to make it back into an organization based in the states, or even fights one of the better-known pros from the US, I would expect her victory to make a statement to fans around the world that she is one of the best who has ever lived.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to tell me who else you would nominate for this! Follow me on twitter @BradMMATorch