SB Nation women's pound-for-pound rankings: Ronda Rousey's fast turnaround

Esther Lin

When Ronda Rousey steps into the Octagon to meet Sara McMann in UFC 170's main event, it will be a mere 56 days after she successfully defended her women's bantamweight title against Miesha Tate at UFC 168.

It's the shortest turnaround time for back-to-back title defenses by a reigning UFC champion since former welterweight titleholder Matt Hughes also put his belt on the line twice in 56 days in the fall of 2006.

That didn't end well for Hughes: He finished B.J. Penn in the third round at UFC 63, then was TKOd in the second round by Georges St-Pierre at UFC 65 to end his second and final reign.

Of course, Hughes already had 45 professional fights under his belt. Rousey is 8-0 and has barely had to break a sweat in competition, as Tate was the first opponent to push her out of the first round, so the comparison between Hughes and Rousey is a bit of apples and oranges.

What's barely in dispute these days is that Rousey is the sport's best women's pound-for-pound fighter. The champ stayed atop the SB Nation poll after defeating Tate, scoring five first-place votes and one second for 59 points. Would-be nemesis Cris Cyborg, the Invicta featherweight champ, claimed the other first and took five seconds to finish second with 55 points.

With the results of this month's poll, It remains clear that at this stage of the game in women's MMA, exposure counts as much as anything else. Women's MMA fields full weight classes from featherweight down to atomweight, but UFC women's bantamweights account for fully seven of the top 10 on the current pound-for-pound list -- in the case of No. 10 Miesha Tate, that's with three losses in her past four fights. Only Cyborg, longtime strawweight standout Jessica Aguilar, and Invicta flyweight champ Barb Honchak cracked this month's top 10. Invicta strawweight champ Carla Esparza finished 11th and Invicta atomweight champion Michelle Waterson -- winner of nine of her past 10 fights, with eight of those coming via finish -- did not receive a single vote.

(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. This does not affect any fighters who would generally be considered for the women's pound-for-pound list at the moment).


1. Ronda Rousey (8-0, 59 points): While Rousey's string of first-round finishes came to a halt at UFC 168, the armbar streak continues, now up to 11 including her amateur bouts.

2. Cris Cyborg (12-1, 1 NC, 55 points): No next opponent is lined up for Cyborg, who once again defeated veteran Marloes Coenen in her most recent bout.

3. Cat Zingano (8-0, 47 points): Zingano is expected to resume training in March after a long knee rehab process.

4. Jessica Aguilar (16-4, 33 points): The American Top Team standout signed to World Series of Fighting just before the UFC announced plans to add a 115-pound division.

5. Alexis Davis (13-5, 27 points): With seven wins in her past eight and one-sided performances against Rosi Sexton and Liz Carmouche, Davis is fast making her case as a bantamweight contender to watch.

6. Jessica Eye (11-1, 22 points): The split decision she got against Sarah Kaufman was debatable, but her perforamce in what was an entertaining slugfest wasn't. Eye's won eight straight fights.

7. Barb Honchak (11-2, 20 points): "The Little Warrior" is carrying the torch for Miletich Fighting Systems in a big way, winning eight straight fights en route to the Invicta flyweight belt.

8. Sara McMann (7-0, 18 points): One could argue McMann is getting her title shot a bit too soon, but the story of Rousey's Olympic judo vs. McMann's Olympic wrestling is enough to look the other way.

9. Sarah Kaufman (16-3, 16 points): So it goes in MMA: Kaufman was on the wrong end of a tight decision against Eye after getting the right end of such a call in her previous fight against Leslie Smith.

10. Miesha Tate (13-5, 14 points): All Tate can do after losing twice to Rousey is go the Urijah Faber route: Win fights as impressively as possible and hope things break your way after you put together a string of wins.

Others receiving votes: Carla Esparza 9, Lauren Murphy 6, Marloes Coenen 4.

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