Nine months ago, Strikeforce was coming off the biggest fight in the history of women's mixed martial arts history, Cris Cyborg's first-round TKO win over Gina Carano. That fight not only made Cyborg the undisputed toughest woman in the sport, but it also made Strikeforce the undisputed top promotion in women's MMA.
But since then Strikeforce hasn't built its women's division as much as it could have. Cyborg has only fought once, Carano hasn't fought at all, and the handful of other women's fights Strikeforce has televised have included mismatches (like Kerry Vera whipping Kim Couture) and snoozers (Sarah Kaufman beating Takayo Hashi).
However, while Strikeforce is stagnating, a couple of other promotions are surging in the women's MMA world. Bellator has signed Rosi Sexton and Megumi Fuji for its upcoming 115-pound tournament, and Moosin put on a good fight between Roxanne Modafferi and Tara LaRosa. All four of those women are on my list of the Top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, which is below. (Editor's note: The previous individual fighter's ranking for women are in parentheses)
1. Cris Cyborg
(1): The biggest question for Strikeforce remains whether it can find worthy challengers for her. I don't see Jan Finney, who will fight Cyborg on June 26, being much of a challenge.
2. Megumi Fuji
(2): The best female fighter in Japan, she's 19-0 with 16 submissions. She was a huge get for Bellator, which just keeps making smart matchmaking decisions.
3. Sarah Kaufman
(4): Strikeforce's 135-pound champion has been waiting around for her next opponent. It looks like she'll be waiting until July before she steps into the cage, against an opponent yet to be determined.
4. Roxanne Modafferi
(NR): She's been spending a lot of time fighting bigger opponents (most notably Marloes Coenen at 145 pounds for Strikeforce last year), but at her natural weight of 130, she showed what she could do in winning an entertaining decision over LaRosa.
5. Tara LaRosa
(2): Once widely regarded as the sport's best, LaRosa drops with the loss to Modafferi. They've now fought twice and each won a decision, and if Moosin is serious about staging another show, it ought to include a Modafferi-LaRosa rubber match.
6. Erin Toughill
(5): She'd be a legitimate challenge to Cyborg, and Strikeforce was saying early this year that Toughill-Cyborg was a fight it would make, but unfortunately Toughill isn't fighting much these days. It's been more than a year since her last fight, and she doesn't have another one scheduled.
7. Mei " V Hajime" Yamaguchi
(7): In her most recent fight she choked out one of the sport's pioneers, Yuka Tsuji
, in 76 seconds, handing Tsuji only the second loss of her career.
8. Marloes Coenen
(8): After her loss to Cyborg in January, Coenen has said she wants to return to Strikeforce soon. Strikeforce needs to make that happen; Coenen is a likable, exciting fighter who can draw fans to women's MMA.
9. Takayo Hashi
(9): Her loss to Kaufman was dull, and she has a fighting style that's going to keep her from ever becoming particularly popular. But you can't argue with her 12-2 record while fighting top opponents in both the United States and Japan.
10. Rosi Sexton
(NR): The British Sexton, who has a doctorate in computer science
, does plenty of other things with her life and has only fought twice since August of 2007. But she says she's devoting herself to fighting, and if she were to take on Fuji in the Bellator tournament it would be one of the biggest women's fights ever to take place on American soil.