MMA, or mixed martial arts, is a fighting-style sport that involves full contact, including both grappling and striking. The sport dates back to Ancient Greek times with a similar style of fighting, called pankration. This particular Olympic sport was derived from a combination of grappling and striking techniques, comparable to modern-day MMA. Pankration was eventually adopted into the Ancient Roman culture as well.
Various styles of mixed martial arts sparked in popularity in the 20th century, particularly in Japan, and it has since grown to a million-dollar industry, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe. In 1993, the first documented use of the term “mixed martial arts” was used, though it is up for debate as to who actually coined the term.
MMA is currently a male-dominated sport, but still attracts a number of female athletes and viewers. Women’s fighting has been documented in Japan since the 1990s where the Smackgirl competition originated. Recognized today as JEWELS, Smackgirl was formed in 2001 and is the first major all-female promotion for mixed martial arts.
Please note, the following records are results as of February 21, 2017.
10. Germaine de Randamie
Ranking in at number 10 for women’s MMA pound-for-pound is Germaine de Randamie – Dutch kickboxer and MMA fighter who actively competes in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). She is widely recognized as the first and current Women’s Featherweight UFC Champion.
Germaine has been practicing MMA fighting since around 2008 when she made her first MMA debut at Revolution Fight Club 2. It wasn’t until 2010 that Randamie won her first match against Nikohl Johnson at Playboy Fight Night 5. On February 11, 2017, Randamie won the title in a battle against former Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Holly Holm. Germaine de Randamie’s current record is at 7-3.
9. Ayaka Hamasaki
Japan native, Ayaka Hamasaki, holds a record of 14-1 for women’s MMA fighting and is the first Asian to win a North American premier MMA title. Hamasaki is well known for winning the very first JEWELS 115lb Queen Tournament, making her the first lightweight champion of the division. Ayaka currently holds the number one spot for atomweight fighters on Fight Matrix and MMARising.com
Ayaka made her first mixed martial arts appearance in 2009 at Shooto Gig Central Vol. 19, with a defeat against Kinuka Sasaki. To date, the only fight Hamasaki lost was against Cláudia Gadelha with a three-round fight in July 2013. Her most recent fight was in September 2016 against Jinh Yu Frey; Hamasaki won the two-round battle, protecting the Invicta FC Atomweight Championship.
8. Raquel “Rocky” Pennington
Raquel Pennington is currently holding a 9-5 record for women’s MMA fighting. Though she has a total of five losses, only two of these defeats were in the UFC and both were very close matches against Holly Holm and Jessica Andrade.
Pennington started practicing fighting when she was 19 and fought in amateur MMA fights from 2009 to 2011, holding a record of 7-1. She stepped into the professional arena in March 2012 with a TKO victory over Kim Couture. In 2013, Pennington became a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate, and made it through to the semi-final rounds, but suffered a defeat against Jessica Rakoczy.
2017 looks like a very quiet year for Raquel, as she is expected to undergo shoulder surgery, but many are confident in her reaching a shot at the title in later years.