While women’s mixed martial arts is still a novelty to some fans, thanks to recent national exposure, including coverage by ESPN and televised bouts under the Strikeforce banner, female fighters are making their mark in MMA. Here are five of the feistiest females in the sport.
5. GINA CARANO
Known as the face of women’s MMA, Carano took the fighting world by storm with her good looks and solid Muay Thai skills, reeling off seven consecutive victories before losing to Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos for the Strikeforce Women’s Lightweight Championship. Carano has struggled to make weight in the past, and what she does after her first loss will help define what kind of fighter she really is in the eyes of the MMA community.
4. SATOKO SHINASHI
This 100-pound submission specialist is well versed in judo, sambo, and jiu-jitsu. Of her 29 victories, 23 have come via submission. What she might lack in devastating punching power or heavy kicks is soon forgotten as she attacks available limbs from impossible angles.
3. CRISTIANE “CYBORG” SANTOS
With a record of 8–1, Cyborg has continuously improved her game with aggressive stand-up and a serious work ethic. Her lone loss was via kneebar back in 2005 in her MMA debut. Since this time, the Brazilian powerhouse has popped off seven consecutive victories (five TKOs), including dominating Gina Carano to become the first women’s champion in Strikeforce history.
2. TARA LAROSA
The 125-pound New Jersey native is a seasoned veteran of the fight game, compiling a record of 18–1. With a background in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, karate, and judo, Larosa has secured wins over talented competitors, including Amanda Buckner, Kelly Kobold, and Valerie Coolbaugh. Her exciting stand-up skills and slick submissions make her a fan favorite and an electrifying presence in the sport.
1. MEGUMI FUJII
Regarded by many fans as the best poundfor- pound female fighter in the world, this 114-pound dynamo dominates with quick takedowns, sick submissions, and a background in sambo, judo, and BJJ. Fujii’s perfect record of 19–0 (16 by submission) makes her one of the most intimidating female fighters to step into the cage.