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1. Amanda Nunes (17-4)Nunes became just the third simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history when she knocked out Cristiane Justino in just 51 seconds to claim featherweight gold at UFC 232. Nunes needed just three seconds longer to dispatch “Cyborg” than she did when she demolished former pound-for-pound queen Ronda Rousey two years earlier at UFC 207. With a resume that also includes wins over the likes of UFC flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Bellator featherweight titlist Julia Budd, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie and Raquel Pennington, “Lioness” has a legitimate claim to being the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time. She’ll look to add to the list with a bantamweight title defense against Holly Holm at UFC 239.
2. Cristiane Justino (20-2)It took more than 13 years, but “Cyborg” finally suffered her second professional defeat. Justino was separated from her featherweight crown in emphatic fashion at UFC 232, where she suffered a shocking 51-second knockout loss at the hands of reigning bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes. The heavy-handed Brazilian remains the clear No. 2 in the division, and she’ll look to maintain her standing when she squares off against rising star Felicia Spencer in the UFC 240 co-main event.
3. Julia Budd (12-2)Budd continued to cement her spot as the No. 2 female featherweight in the world, as she posted a dominant third-round technical knockout victory against Talita Nogueira in a title defense at Bellator 202. “The Jewel” has now won 10 consecutive fights since being submitted by Ronda Rousey in November 2011, and with finishes in two of her last three appearances, she is working to erase the “grinder” label that has been assigned to her in recent years. Budd’s next title defense will come against Olga Rubin at a Bellator event in Thackerville, Okla., on July 12.
4. Arlene Blencowe (11-7)Blencowe was able to shake off the disappointment of a contentious loss to featherweight champion Julia Budd in a big way, as “Angerfist” scored a third-round stoppage of Top 10 featherweight Amber Leibrock at Bellator 206. Blencowe showcased her boxing skills for much of the bout but secured victory by slamming her way out of an armbar and pummeling a stunned Leibrock with follow-up punches on the mat. The 35-year-old Australian has won four of her last five bouts.
5. Holly Holm (12-4)Holm entered mixed martial arts known as a boxing world champion, but her skills have gradually evolved over the years. That was most evident at UFC 225, where the Jackson-Wink MMA representative outwrestled and outgrappled Octagon newcomer Megan Anderson in a relatively easy decision triumph. Holm was expected to return to face Aspen Ladd at UFC 235, but the proposed bout was scrapped a month before the event. After initially being rumored to face Amanda Nunes at UFC 237, Holm’s team balked at facing the bantamweight queen in Brazil. Instead, Holm will square off against Nunes for 135-pound gold in Las Vegas at UFC 239.
6. Felicia Spencer (7-0)Spencer continued her ascent at UFC Rochester, as she tapped out fellow former Invicta FC belt holder Megan Anderson with a rear-naked choke in the opening stanza of their featured featherweight bout. That makes three consecutive triumphs via that same maneuver for the 28-year-old “Feenom,” but none were more significant than her first triumph within the Las Vegas-based promotion. Spencer will quickly move up the food chain at 145 pounds, as she has been booked for a showdown with ex-champ Cristiane Justino at UFC 240 in Edmonton.
7. Megan Anderson (9-4)The battle of former Invicta titlists did not go Anderson’s way at UFC Rochester, as she was submitted by Felicia Spencer in the opening stanza of their featherweight bout. Anderson has lost two of her three Octagon appearances thus far, and the Aussie’s lone victory over Cat Zingano came in somewhat dubious fashion when her toenail injured her opponent’s eye while throwing a head kick. Still, the 29-year-old Anderson figures to have plenty of opportunity to redeem herself in a division that isn’t exactly overflowing with contenders.
8. Talita Nogueira (7-1)Nogueira waited nearly three years for her shot at Julia Budd, but that extra time did not make her any more prepared for what awaited her against the reigning Bellator MMA featherweight queen. After nearly being finished by a knee to the body in the second stanza, Nogueira succumbed to a right hand and follow-up punches 4:07 into the third round. Positive moments were few and far between for the Brazilian, who had finished her first seven foes.
9. Amanda Bell (6-5)After having a three-bout winning streak halted by Talita Nogueira at Bellator 182 in August 2017, Bell returned to the win column with a technical knockout stoppage of Amber Leibrock 3:52 into the opening round of their Bellator 215 encounter in Uncasville, Conn., on Feb. 15. The former Invicta FC competitor has established herself as a proven finisher in victory, as she has gone the distance just once in her six career triumphs.
10. Olga Rubin (6-0)Israel’s Rubin remained undefeated at Bellator 217, as she took a unanimous verdict against Iony Razafiarison in Dublin. Not only did Rubin end her opponent’s four-bout winning streak, but she earned her fourth triumph under the Bellator MMA banner. As a result of her success, Rubin has emerged as the next challenger for reigning Bellator 145-pound queen Julia Budd. Rubin and Budd will square off on July 12.
Other Contenders: Amber Leibrock, Kaitlin Young, Cindy Dandois, Reina Miura, Jessy Miele.
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