As we all know last week we went over the top 10 fighters of 2013 and even though it was open all fighters regardless of gender, 90% of them were men. This week we will be going over the top 10 female fighters of 2013.
As has been the case in the Best of 2013 series, these fighters were voted on by the members of the MMA Freak writing staff. There was the usual fighters who were nominated but did not receive enough votes to make the top 10. However they will be recognized in the honorable mentions list along with their accomplishments this year:
~ Honorable Mentions ~
Alexis Davis– went 3-0 for the year including wins over Shayna Baszler (Invicta FC 4 Fight of the Night), Rosi Sexton, and Liz Carmouche.
Mizuki Inoue– went 3-0 for the year with wins over Seo Ye Jung, Bec Hyatt, and Emi Fujino (Deep Jewels Lightweight GP Semi-final bout).
Liz Carmouche– participated in two historical bouts at UFC 157 against Ronda Rousey and UFC on Fox 8 against Jessica Andrade.
Joanne Calderwood– went 4-0 for the year and was one of 11 women chosen to participate in TUF 20 for the UFC Strawweight title.
Carla Esparza- defeated Bec Hyatt for the Invicta Strawweight title and was selected to participate in The Ultimate Fighter season 20.
Tecia Torres- went 3-0, won awards for 2013 Strawweight of the Year, and was selected to participate in The Ultimate Fighter season 20.
Ashlee Evans-Smith- went 2-0 for the year defeating opponents Tori Adams and Fallon Fox, winning the CFA Featherweight title.
Sarah Kaufman- defeated opponent Leslie Smith at Invicta FC 5 earning a Fight of the Night performance and later entering the UFC.
And now for the top 10 women who go in there and prove they can throw down as good as men or in some cases better:
~ 10 ~
“The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson only competed once this year but it was a very significant bout. On April 5 she faced Jessica Penne for the Invicta FC Atomweight title.
Now a mother, Waterson was able to pull an armbar against Penne midway through the fourth round. The fight was voted as the Fight of the Year by the Women’s MMA Awards. She was also voted Atomweight of the Year by said awards.
~ 9 ~
Like the aforementioned Waterson, Sara McMann only competed once this year. However, it was impressive just the same. McMann’s sole fight was on April 27 at UFC 159.
She successfully defeated opponent Sheila Gaff at roughly four minutes in the first round. An attempted fight with Sarah Kaufman fell through but it was announced at the UFC 168 post fight conference that McMann would get a title shot.
~ 8 ~
Even though both of Tate’s outings this year were losses she was still considered rather active this year. Tate’s first outing at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale against Cat Zingano resulted in the first women’s Fight of the Night performance.
Even though she lost to Zingano for the coaching stint opposite rival Ronda Rousey, an injury to Zingano forced her out of the TUF coaching stint and allowed Tate to step in and coach opposite Rousey as one of two historical first women’s coaches on the show.
She proved to be a successful coach as the show was won by members of her team in Chris Holdsworth for the men’s bantamweight division and training partner Julianna Pena for the women’s bantamweight division. She ended the year with another Fight of the Night performance against Ronda Rousey despite the second loss.
~ 7 ~
Cat Zingano had a good start to 2013 but had her year unfortunately cut short. On April 13 she faced Miesha Tate for the right to coach opposite Ronda Rousey on The Ultimate Fighter season 20. Zingano was able to pull a come from behind victory to win the match and earn Fight of the Night honors.
Unfortunately a knee injury forced her out of her coaching stint and she has been going through several treatments ever since. Also her husband sadly died on January 13th of this year with the reason yet to be released.
~ 6 ~
She may not be as big of a name as some of the more well known women of MMA but Barb Honchak definitely had a good year. Her year started out at Invicta FC 5 on April 5th when she faced and defeated Vanessa Porto for the inaugural Invicta FC Flyweight Championship.
She then faced Leslie Smith on December 7th and successfully defended her title, earning Fight of the Night honors in the process. Honchak earned Fighter of the Year at the Women’s MMA Awards. She also earned Flyweight of the Year at the AwakeningFighters WMMA Awards.
~ 5 ~
Lauren Murphy had an extremely active year that began with a move. Murphy started the year at Legacy FC 18 on March 1st when she defeated Jennifer Scott making a successful bantamweight debut. A month later she made her Invicta FC debut against Kaitlin Young.
After another victory against Sarah D’Alelio, Murphy faced Miriam Nakamoto and was awarded the Invicta FC Bantamweight title when Nakamoto suffered a knee injury during the fight. However, she is still ranked as the highest non-UFC Bantamweight in the Unified Rankings.
~ 4 ~
There’s no doubt that there’s a promising future for the career of Holly Holm. Holm started out the year by defeating Katie Merrill at Bellator 91. She then scored an impressive knockout against Allanna Jones at Legacy FC 21. The victory earned her the WMMA Knockout of the Year by four different publications.
Holm then rounded out the year with victories against Nikki Knudsen and Angela Hayes. Her impressive year earned her the ULTMMA.com Prospect of the Year award as well as a similar award from Inside MMA.
~ 3 ~
Julianna Pena didn’t have the best beginning to 2013 and her 2014 didn’t start off well either. On February 8, Pena suffered a loss in her only flyweight bout. Despite this being her second loss in a row, Pena entered into The Ultimate Fighter 18.
Despite not being liked in the house, thanks to the coaching of training partner Miesha Tate, Pena won the show, scoring three exhibition victories and the finale victory against Jessica Rakoczy. Unfortunately Pena suffered a training injury that will keep her out action for at minimum the rest of 2014.
~ 2 ~
The woman known as “Cyborg” arose after a year off of a suspension for banned substances. After being released from Zuffa, Cristiane Justino returned to competition at Invicta FC 5 where she defeated Fiona Muxlow for a shot for the featherweight title.
In her next bout she faced Marloes Coenen in a rematch from their Strikeforce stints. Once again Justino won the bout and became the first Invicta FC Featherweight Champion. The post suspension performances earned her Featherweight of the Year awards from two publications.
~ 1 ~
Ronda Rousey may have embraced her role as the heel of the UFC recently but she certainly had a successful 2013. Rousey’s year opened at UFC 157 against Liz Carmouche where the two shared the historic first UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship match.
She then went onto serve a stint on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter where she caused no end of drama with her personality quirks. Then she ended the year at UFC 168 against opposing coach and rival Miesha Tate. She’s since earned numerous awards for her amazing year.
That’s it for this week’s edition of the Best of 2013 series. Stay tuned for next week as we start to close out the series.