The Top 5 Fights in WMMA History
It seems like after every fight card, you hear both fans and media members alike calling at least one of the bouts the “greatest _____ of all time.” I think most of this hype comes from a lack of attention span, but it’s also worth noting that the fight game is on a huge growth curve, which means that the quality of the athletes, the level of skill, the matchups, and the energy of the events are constantly on the upswing, which results in the bar constantly being raised in MMA.
There were 3 women’s MMA fights within the last 3 months that I’ve heard been billed the “highest level,” “greatest,” and “biggest” fights in the sports history (those being Nunes vs Shevchenko 2, Gadelha vs Andrade, and Jedrzejczyk vs Namajunas) and not to say that arguments made for these cases can’t withstand, but obviously there’s more to the story than meets the eye here. With a history of 2 decades, and women’s divisions constantly being added to promotions rosters, there's a lot to discuss and consider, beyond the promotional hype being used to draw eyes to this years, or this month's, matchups.
This was the fight for the inaugural women’s featherweight (145 lbs.) in Strikeforce, which was the premiere organization for women’s MMA at the time. It was also the first women’s fight in mixed martial arts to be televised, as Strikeforce’s fight cards appeared on Showtime.
Although I have my own personal feelings about Cyborg, I do acknowledge how instrumental her presence was at the dawn of WMMA.
This was the tipping point of women’s cage fighting becoming not just acceptable, but cool. In fact, it was this fight that convinced Dana White to let women into the UFC.
Not only was this fight historic because of it’s hype, but also because of the way it went down. Rousey was 4-0 going into this fight, having earned all four of her victories by first round armbar (as well as her 3 amature fights prior to going pro). Although it was late in the first, and there was some back and forth between the two fighters, Rousey pulled out another first round armbar finish, taking the bantamweight belt from Miesha Tate and becoming the Strikeforce champ.
This was a matchup that people had been wanting since the inauguration of Ronda Rousey as the first UFC women’s bantamweight champion. On paper, it was without question going to be her toughest test to date. At the time of the fight, Holm was also an undefeated fighter at 9-0, winning most of her bouts by headkick KO. Not to mention the fact that she’s a 17-time world champion boxer in 3 weight divisions, considered by many to be one of the greatest women’s boxers of all time.
The fight itself claims the highest attendance in UFC history, with over 56,000 fans having witnessed the UFC 193 fight card in Melbourne, Australia. Of course, we all know how the story went, with Queen Rousey being dethroned by Holly Holm, in shocking fashion. This ended up representing a new era in women’s MMA, with the talent pool having caught up Rousey. Although the star power isn’t necessarily there now, there’s a whole lot of skill and depth in the women’s divisions that didn’t used to exist. I think that’s a positive.
4. Holm vs Tate
Instaed of waiting out Rousey’s layoff for the rematch, much to Dana White’s dismay, Holly Holm decided to take on title challenger Miesha Tate as her next opponent, after winning the bantamweight belt.
The fight was the co-main event on the UFC 196 pay-per-view, which was headlined by Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. the fight itself was epic. Epic. Amazing. I’ve probably watched it 20 times. Not only was it a shocking finish, but the pressure, the heart, and the skill that both athletes presented was nothing short of spectacular. That 5th round rear naked choke? Bar none one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a fight.
Okay, I know I mentioned in the intro that this is one of the fights that has been hyped recently as one of the best ever, but it truly was one of the best ever. Rose Namajunas not only defeated an undefeated champion who was about to tie Ronda Rousey’s record for the most title defenses, but she did it by beating Joanna at her own game. For the girl that’s the queen of mental warfare, beating her opponents before they even enter the cage, Rose was able to nullify her many and various attempts at mind control.
When everyone was counting out Rose, trying to stamp her as a one dimensional fighter who had good submission skills, she proved that she’s dangerous everywhere and that you can’t ever underestimate your opponent. Plus you know, she has a black belt in Taekwondo which people seem to conveniently forget.