Women in combat sports have come a very long long way since the inception of the bantamweight division in the UFC in late 2012.
While the UFC is obviously still the No. 1 organization in MMA, there are many up-and-coming female mixed martial artists in other organizations who are working their way to be the future stars of tomorrow.
Check out our list of rising women mixed martial artists who may be the next female fighters signed on to the UFC.
- 1 6. Danyelle Nicole Wolf
- 2 5. Mackenzie Dern
- 3 4. Tiffany “Timebomb” Van Soest
- 4 3. Irene Aldana
- 5 She currently holds a record of six wins and two losses, winning her latest fight against UFC veteran Jessamyn Duke via rear-naked choke. Aldana is paving her own path within the bantamweight division, and she is set to fight Talia Santos at Invicta FC 18. She will be co-headlining the event with fellow Lobo Gym competitor Alexa Grasso.
- 6 2. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
- 7 1. Alexa Grasso
6. Danyelle Nicole Wolf
Relatively new to the fighting world, Danyelle Nicole Wolf had never strapped up boxing gloves before 2008.
Eight years later, she is the top-ranked female boxer in America. She is part of Team America, working her way up to compete in the Olympics, and also a two-time Continental Champion (2013, 2014) and a three-time USA Boxing National Champion.
More impressively, she’s been self-funded from the start. Although she won’t be competing in this year’s Olympics, she is already eyeing a transition from boxing to MMA. No date has been announced yet, but with Wolf training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, her MMA camp has already begun.
5. Mackenzie Dern
Mackenzie Dern is a highly decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner who currently ranks at #1 in IBJJF rankings. She began training when she was just 4 years old under her father Wellington “Megaton” Dias, who himself is one of the top ranking BJJ practitioners in the world.
At only 23 years old, Dern is already a black belt in BJJ and and holds world championships in both gi and no-gi competitions. She is currently in transition to an MMA career, having made her debut at Legacy FC 58 against Kenia Rosas on July 22nd. She won the fight via dominant unanimous decision, signifying that her career is one to watch closely.
4. Tiffany “Timebomb” Van Soest
Tiffany “Timebomb” Van Soest is a Muay Thai kickboxer who is the current Lion Fight featherweight champion.
She has spent the last 9 years of her life training in Muay Thai and holds a black belt in Shōrin-ryū karate. Soest won the WBC Muaythai International super bantamweight championship in 2012 and has also competed in the bantamweight division for Lion Fight.
On May 13, she also fought at Glory 30: Los Angeles, where she defeated Esma Hasshaass via unanimous decision. Soest is currently working on making her MMA transition, having been signed on to Invicta FC in April, and is expected to make her debut sometime in the summer.
3. Irene Aldana
Aldana is currently signed to Invicta FC as part of their bantamweight roster. A Mexican native, Aldana trains with other Invicta FC fighters at Lobo Gym.
She currently holds a record of six wins and two losses, winning her latest fight against UFC veteran Jessamyn Duke via rear-naked choke. Aldana is paving her own path within the bantamweight division, and she is set to fight Talia Santos at Invicta FC 18. She will be co-headlining the event with fellow Lobo Gym competitor Alexa Grasso.
2. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Polish mixed martial artist Karolina Kowlkiewicz is currently signed to the UFC strawweight division.
Kowalkiewicz holds an undefeated record of 9-0. Originally signed to Poland’s KSW promotion, she has now worked her way up in the UFC and is scheduled to face off against top strawweight contender Rose Namajunas at Saturday’s UFC 201.
Kowalkiewicz has 14 years of Krav Maga and Muay Thai training under her belt, making her bout with Karate black belt Namajunas an anticipated one.
1. Alexa Grasso
Grasso is on her to way to becoming one of the top female MMA fighters in the game.
Currently signed to Invicta FC, the Mexican Grasso is only 22 years old. A part of the strawweight division, the 115-pound fighter holds an undefeated record of 7-0. Grasso has shown incredible promise on the Invicta roster, and only has a ton of time to get better. That makes her a scary prospect for the rest of the Invicta strawweight landscape.
Grasso is scheduled to headline Invicta FC 18 in Kansas City alongside TUF 23 contestant Jodie Esquibel.