Who Will Be The Next Woman Inducted Into the UFC Hall of Fame?
At only its adolescent stage, the UFC has produced some of the top MMA fighters in the world. Several of these stars, including Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Chuck Liddell, have been inducted into their Hall of Fame. A men-filled HOF, the lack of women involved is noticeable.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when women were getting the recognition they deserve in the fight scene. Ronda Rousey helped pave the way, resulting in her being the first female inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be on July 5.
While we celebrate all that she has accomplished, it begs the question: who’s next? No, we are not talking about the next opponent for former WCW/WWE star Goldberg. Who in the women’s division will eventually join Ronda in the UFC Hall of Fame?
While several have not made the impact she has, there are a few who have given it their all for the business. I have provided a career retrospective for a few women who may be given the honor down the line.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-2)
Some people call her Ronda 2.0, but the skills Joanna Champion possess help put her in a league of her own. The first Polish champion in UFC history, Joanna helped elevate women’s MMA, especially after Ronda Rousey disappeared from the sport.
Winning the UFC Women’s Strawweight Title in an epic bout against Carla Esparza at UFC 185, Joanna put that division on the map. Her five successful title defenses were either epic slugfests (think Joanna v. Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205) or simple Joanna showcases. The striking ability of Joanna was off the charts during that three-year span. At UFC 211 against Jessica Andrade, Joanna broke the following records:
- Most significant strikes in UFC championship history (225)
- Highest significant strike differential in UFC championship history (142)
- Most leg kicks landed in a single fight (75, breaking her own record)
If you were to watch a match that showcases her skills, watch her bout against Karolina at UFC 205. One of the best women’s bouts in UFC history, at least in this writer’s eyes.
Even after losing her title to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217, Joanna didn’t falter. She became the true anti-Rousey, training hard to come back. “The Boogeywoman” lost the rematch but looked dominant at various points throughout the fight. Her perseverance makes her a true warrior, and she is still fighting to prove she is the best.
Miesha Tate (18-7)
Her nickname may be “Cupcake”, but this woman is tough as nails. A former UFC, FCF and Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Tate became popular due to her takedown game, winning seven bouts via submission. The ground-based game of Tate was heralded by many fighters as one of the most impressive feats of skill they’ve ever seen.
Tate may be one of the most respected MMA fighters in MMA history. This is especially true due to her heart and resiliency inside the octagon. FOX Sports’ Damon Martin praised her legacy as one that will be hard to match, especially for newcomers. Yahoo Sports’ Dave Doyle emphatically stated she was one of the most important female fighters in the history of the sport. Her opponents, like Ronda Rousey and Raquel Pennington, also spoke highly of Tate. The former of the two had a heated rivalry with Tate, making the praise that much sweeter.
It wasn’t until Tate retired in 2016 after UFC 205 where people truly got to appreciate her ability. Looking back, her contributions to the sport will not be forgotten.
Now a mother, don’t be surprised if Tate will be called by another name: Hall of Famer.
Holly Holm (12-4 MMA, 33-2-3 Boxing)
We can’t talk about Ronda Rousey without mentioning the first woman who took her down. Just remember, Holly Holm is just more than that one fight.
A former boxer and kickboxer, Holm has cemented her place as one of the most versatile fighters in combat sports history. In boxing she decorated athlete, winning multiple titles with the WBF, WBAC, WBC, GBU, WIBA, IFBA, WBA and IBA. She is considered one of the most lethal strikers in the world, being heralded as the number two ranked women’s boxer of all time.
In the octagon, “The Preacher’s Daughter” was able to showcase her skills through another platform. Going 9-0 before facing Rousey, Holm “cemented her legacy” with a dominating performance, capturing the Women’s Bantamweight Title. Even while losing four in a row after that, Holly showed the grit that made fight fans fall in love with her in the first place. Recently, she has gone 2-1, rebounding in a way that not many fighters are capable of doing. Holm’s last bout, a unanimous decision victory over Megan Anderson at UFC 225, was a technical masterpiece.
Her eight wins via knockout are something to look at in wonder. Her ability to move at a quick pace in order to set up calculating strikes has been given enough praise to last a lifetime. At 36, there is a lot left in the tank for “The Preacher’s Daughter”. Here is hoping that her legacy is recognized by the entire combat sports world.
Amanda Nunes (16-4)
With a name like “The Lioness”, how could this next fighter not be included on this list?
The current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion is considered one of the most dominant strikers out there today. Nunes’ boxing background was a key factor in destroying Rousey herself at UFC 207. Her calculating hits have become trouble for all that oppose her, as she has won 11 fights via knockout.
Nunes has a long career ahead of her, but one can’t help but appreciate her accomplishments in the sport now. Whether it was in Strikeforce, Invicta FC or the UFC, she has laid down a path of destruction everywhere she goes.
If inducted, she would be the first openly gay athlete in the UFC Hall of Fame, and one of the only ones in any Hall of Fame. It would be a true trailblazing moment for one of the best the UFC has to offer today.
Cris Cyborg (20-1 (1))
Nate Diaz would not be surprised by this pick. Cristiane Justino Veanacio is one of the most dominant forces in MMA today.
A former submission grappler (7-1), Cyborg first joined the MMA scene in 2005. While she lost her first bout to Erica Paes at Show Fight 2, she would not let that deter her. She ended up going 10-0, had a victory overturned after testing positive for Stanozolol in Strikeforce, before winning her next 10 in a row. The one blip on her radar aside, Cyborg has proven to be a fighter’s fighter. As far as we are concerned, she is fighting clean, which is dangerous to other women competing.
Before Ronda Rousey, Cyborg was considered the baddest woman in MMA, and she can proudly hold that moniker now. Let’s just take a look at her accomplishments:
Two-time gold medalist in IBJJF competition
The First and only Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion
The First Invicta FC Featherweight Champion
Current UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion
Revived a dead in the water Featherweight division
OK, that last one was (sort of) a joke. Now, if all of that doesn't scream Hall of Famer, I don't know what does. With a potential bout against Amanda Nunes on the horizon, Cyborg is on track to compete against every Golden Age fighter the UFC has to offer. The sky is the limit for the 32-year old Brazilian.