Top 10 115-lb women UFC should sign
Women’s MMA has been the story of 2013 and it looks like 2014 will be another banner year for the ladies.
UFC president Dana White said on FOXSports.com’s The Fighter & The Kid podcast that the organization is “working on” adding a 115-pound women’s division soon after the huge ratings success of the female fights on this season of The Ultimate Fighter on FOX Sports 1.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the Top 10 women’s strawweights the UFC should sign immediately:
10. Rose Namajunas (2-1)
“Thug” Rose is more than just UFC heavyweight Pat Barry’s girlfriend. She’s one of the most exciting, young women’s fighters out there at age 21. And the videos she and Barry have put on social media have been classic, like their zombie-inspired Harlem Shake remix. Namajunas is pretty easy on the eyes, too – Barry has clearly outpunted his coverage. She could be a marketable star for years to come.
9. Bec Hyatt (5-3)
Speaking of marketable, the other “Rowdy” women’s MMA fighter is one of the most outspoken, vocal female athletes out there. Over the summer, she opened up about being the victim of domestic abuse. The Aussie with the wild hair and tattoos is just 5-3, but she’s only 24. There’s plenty of potential there.
8. Felice Herrig (9-4)
Signing Herrig would be a no-brainer for the UFC. She’s an exciting standup fighter whose weigh-in outfits have made her a huge star on the women’s MMA scene – especially among male fans. Herrig has never been afraid to use her considerable sex appeal to market herself and she’s not afraid to admit it.
7. Barb Honchak (8-2)
Honchak is arguably the top 125-pound woman in the world right now and she’ll headline Invicta FC’s next show Dec. 7 against Leslie Smith for the flyweight title. “Little Warrior” would have to cut another 10 pounds to make the UFC’s new division, but, at 5-foot-4, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Honchak would immediately become one of the best female fighters in the UFC if she’s inked.
6. Jessica Penne (11-2)
One of the top women’s atomweights in the world and the former Invicta champion in that weight class, Penne would have to move up to 115 to be in the UFC. That should be easy, since she has fought in that division before. With her long legs and lanky frame, Penne’s guard is one of the best in women’s MMA. She’s a threat to submit her opponent whenever things get to the ground.
5. Leslie Smith (6-3)
UFC president Dana White says Ronda Rousey reminds him of one of the Diaz brothers. Well, Smith actually trains with Nick and Nate – and fights like them, too. “The Peacemaker” is one of the toughest, most exciting female fighters in the world. She currently competes for Invicta at 125 and actually spent most of her career at 135. If she can’t make 115 – and being a ripped 5-foot-9 won’t help – there’s no reason why the UFC shouldn’t bring her in at bantamweight.
4. Michelle Waterson (11-3)
Waterson has the best nickname, possibly in all of MMA. “The Karate Hottie” – does it get any better than that? The current Invicta women’s atomweight champion is a black belt in American freestyle karate and is as talented in the cage as she is gorgeous. Plus, how many UFC fighters can say they were featured in a Megadeth video? She would have to move up from 105 to fight in the UFC, but why wouldn’t she want the huge opportunity?
3. Claudia Gadelha (11-0)
UFC champions Jose Aldo and Renan Barao would surely put a call in to Dana White to get their teammate Gadelha a shot in the big show. She was the youngest Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt ever in Nova Uniao’s history and, at 24, hasn’t even come close to reaching her prime yet. The Brazilian challenges Carla Esparza for the Invicta strawweight title in December and her good looks also help to make her a rising star in WMMA.
2. Carla Esparza (9-2)
“Cookie Monster” would be near the top of the list of any potential UFC signees at 115 pounds. She was an All-American college wrestler and has a background training with the Gracies in Torrance, Calif. Obviously, that means Esparza, the current Invicta strawweight champion, is a nightmare for anyone on the ground. But she doesn’t just lay and pray – her strikes from top position are relentless. Just ask Lynn Alvarez.
1. Jessica Aguilar (16-4)
What a bad break for both the UFC and Aguilar. This week, Aguilar signed with World Series Of Fighting, putting her out of reach for the UFC’s new division, at least for the time being. Aguilar is ranked the No. 3 pound-for-pound women’s fighter in the world by MMARising.com – behind two ladies named Rousey and “Cyborg.”
The American Top Team product would be a huge get for the UFC, especially considering her Mexican heritage. The organization wants to hold an event in Mexico City in 2014 and it would be a shame if Aguilar wasn’t on the card.