10 Most Important Women’s Fights In UFC History

It took the UFC a long time to get a women’s division in the company, with the brass finally succumbing to Ronda Rousey’s mainstream potential in 2012 and creating a bantamweight division for the ladies 15 years after the men’s Heavyweight title was introduced.

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The UFC women’s division was initially built on Rousey’s shoulders and it took years for other women to become reconigzable figures. Joanna Jedrzejczyk broke through first, with a Rousey-esque dominance in the Strawweight division before Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes became household names after defeating the previously unbeaten Rousey.

This list takes a look at 10 memorable fights in the UFC women’s division which have remained fresh in the minds of MMA fans.

ten Ronda Rousey Vs Liz Carmouche – UFC 157

Undoubtedly the most significant female MMA competitor ever, Ronda Rousey’s success in Strikeforce was the reason for the UFC to introduce a women’s division in 2013. Rousey, who was already awarded the UFC Bantamweight title, would headline UFC 157 to defend her belt against Liz Carmouche in what would be the first-ever UFC Women’s fight.

Despite facing some early adversity, Ronda locked in her trademark armbar late in the first round and got the submission victory to have the perfect start to women’s MMA in the UFC. Rousey would go on to successfully defend her title five more times, with only one of those matches stretching over the 60-second mark.

nine Amanda Nunes Vs Julianna Pena – UFC 269Pena beats Nunes at UFC 269

By the end of 2021, Amanda Nunes was widely acknowledged to be the best female competitor in UFC history. So when Julianna Penna was given the nod as the next Bantamweight title challenger despite a 2-2 record in her last four fights, critics had considered her to be nothing more than another sacrificial lamb for Nunes.

The first round of the bout at UFC 269 went according to expectations, with Nunes dominating Pena. However, the script flipped in the second round as Pena shocked Nunes with 74 significant strikes. A staggered champion tried to fight back but was floored after 3 minutes and submitted via a rear-naked choke in what became one of the biggest upsets in recent MMA history.


eight Holly Holm vs Germaine De Randemie – UFC 208Holm wrestling GDR

UFC 208’s main event for the newly created Women’s Featherweight title became highly controversial after Germaine De Randemie edged out a 48-47 UD victory over Holly Holm despite repeatedly striking the latter after the bell in the second and third rounds, receiving only a warning in both instances.

The commentators rightly argued that GDR should have been docked a point, which would have seen the match adjudged as a majority draw. In addition to that, 14 out of 23 media outlets scored the match for Holm, tarnishing De Randemie’s victory and resulting in an unsuccessful appeal from Holm to the Atheltic Commission.

7 Joanna Jedrzejczyk Vs Rosa Namajunas – UFC 217Rose after the fight with Joanna

Back in 2017, Joanna Jedrzejczyk was the dominant Strawweight Champion with a 14-0 record and was one win away from equalling Ronda Rousey’s 6-title defense record. At UFC 217, she would be challenged by the diminutive Rose Namajunas who created a stir at the weigh-ins by reciting the Lord’s prayer while face to face with a trash-talking Joanna, giving an early indication that she would be unlike any other challenger that ‘Boogey Woman’ had previously faced.

Rose would make her credentials known by knocking down the Champion within the first three minutes of their bout. ‘Thug Rose’ proceeded to pound Joanna and the latter would tap to punches in the first round to give up her title in the most incredible fashion.

6 Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko – UFC 215Valentina Shevchenko superman punch

At UFC 215, the judges awarded a razor-thin split decision win to the Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes over Valentina Shevchenko. While the decision prevented the belt from changing hands 5 times in 13 months, it did raise questions about Shevchenko’s future at Bantamweight. Despite being Nunes’ biggest rival, Valentina was now 0-2 against the champ with no prospect of an immediate title rematch.

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The solution inadvertently ushered in a period of dominance in three female weight classes. Valentina would bump down to Flyweight and start a still-ongoing 1200+ day reign as the champion whereas the lack of credible challengers forced Nunes to successfully challenge for the Featherweight belt, resulting in a similar run alongside her recently-ended 1981-day reign as the Bantamweight champion.

5 Zhang Weili vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk – UFC 248Joanna at UFC 248

At UFC 248, Joanna Jedrzejczyk lost her 4th straight title match after ending up on the wrong side of a split-decision verdict against Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili. She left with a huge hematoma that allegedly made her go blind for 2 days, but the bout has been considered to be one of the greatest women’s fights ever.

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Joanna’s precise striking was nullified by the power of Zhang and the action never ceased as the rounds went on, with the pace quickening during the Championship rounds. The Judges scored the fight 48-47,48-47,47-48 for the Champion as Zhang sent Joanna into retirement, albeit after a 5-star thriller.

4 Ronda Rousey Vs Miesha Tate – UFC 168

Ronda Rousey punch

© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Miesha Tate vs Ronda Rousey was the pre-eminent rivalry in women’s MMA, and the Strikeforce and UFC Bantamweight title matches featured either or both of them from 2011 to 2016. Rousey would take Tate’s Strikeforce title in the first round via armbar in their Strikeforce bout and a year later, the two would rematch for Rousey’s UFC title at UFC 168.

The match was preceded by a season of the Ultimate Fighter with Tate and Rousey becoming the first female coaches, building hype for their clash. Tate would run Rousey close in their rematch, becoming the first person to stretch her beyond the first round. Tate would eventually succumb to an armbar in the third round, with Rousey rebuffing her post-match handshake to underline the bad blood.

3 Zhang Weili Vs Rose Namajunas – UFC 261Weili vs Namajunas

At UFC 237, Rose Namajunas had been dominating Jessica Andrade in their UFC Strawweight title match before getting slammed on her head and losing the belt. Two years later, ‘Thug Rose’ was back in the title picture but had to battle new Champion Zhang Weili instead.

Weili was considered to be the favorite, but Rose would make history 78 seconds into the first round as a head kick dropped the Champion, forcing the referee to end the bout.

Rose would thus become the only female UFC fighter to regain a title she had lost. Rose and Weili would have a rematch 6 months later and the former would prevail once again to establish herself as the greatest in her division.

2 Amanda Nunes Vs Cris Cyborg – UFC 232Nunes K.O. Cyborg

In the first-ever female UFC ‘Super fight’, Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes and Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg fought for the latter’s title at UFC 232. Cyborg was 20-1 coming into the match, with her sole defeat happening way back in 2005, and was expected to hold the upper hand over the 16-4 Nunes.

However, the bout ended in 51 seconds as Nunes thoroughly outclassed Cyborg, staggering the Featherweight queen early before knocking her out cold with an overhand right. The dominant fashion of Nunes’ victory prompted Dana White to declare her the ‘best ever’ and not many MMA journalists have disputed that claim.

one Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm – UFC 193Holm Headkick

Despite her 9-0 MMA record and excellent boxing pedigree, Holly Holm was supposed to be a cakewalk for UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (12-0 at the time) when they met at UFC 193.

However, Holm proceeded to mock her +1200 underdog odds by dominating Rousey in the first round, sticking and moving while connecting with powerful jabs that left the champion bloodied and exhausted. Round 2 saw a vicious head kick from Holm that dropped Rousey and the challenger pounced on the champion to end the fight and take her title.

The fight ended Rousey’s dominance and changed the UFC Women’s division forever. Rousey would take a year off before returning, only to suffer another devastating defeat at the hands of Amanda Nunes to fade into retirement.

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