World WMMA Rankings: Flyweight (Top 20)

Finally the 125 pounders are getting some love. Bellator has announced that it will crown its first champion in the flyweight division later this year. This will be the promotion’s second attempt after a failed run under former president Bjorn Rebney. Bellator already has a stable of quality fighters competing at 125, but they haven’t stopped adding new faces to the young but promising division. Their most recent signings include former UFC fighter Valerie Letourneau and 5-0 prospect Juliana Velasquez, who will be dropping 10 pounds to try her luck in the Bellator cage. She was ranked #17 at bantamweight before the announcement.

In a somewhat unexpected development the UFC has also announced that it will be adding the flyweight division, making it the twelfth weight-class and fourth women’s division to be promoted under the UFC banner. Some may be wondering what will happen to Invicta FC as they only promote one category that the UFC has not touched yet, Atomweight. The organization has also lost most of its top talent to competing bodies. Once the premier platform for female athletes to compete and raise their value in a changing market, it appears that Invicta may not be as necessary as it once was. While it remains a solid place for talent development expect any top prospect or champion to be snatched up by the major players in MMA.

Many fighters have been pushing for the UFC to install the flyweight division, including Joanne Calderwood who is the only fighter currently on the UFC roster to compete at 125 for the promotion. Claudia Gadelha is most likely happy about the news. The BJJ world champion has dropped two close decisions to Joanna Jędrzejczyk and avoided competing on TUF 20 to crown the inaugural strawweight champion, due to the tough cut down to 115 pounds. Joanna Jędrzejczyk has been the main fighter pushing for the division. If her comments on Facebook earlier this week were any indication you should expect to see her vying for a second title later this year or early 2018.

I have been hearing many high-profile analysts commenting on the decision to bring 125 into the UFC. Some take the stance that it is not a deep enough category to have a place on the big show. I feel that this take is illinformed. I too had my reservations in the past about the move, thinking that it would take too much from 115 and 135 as it sits between both divisions. These days I am not as hesitant to get on board with the idea. The talent pool in all three categories has grown, even with fighters moving up and down. Now is the right time for flyweight.

Critics of the decision stating that there is not enough talent probably couldn’t name 8 fighters competing at 125, so their opinion is not an educated one. They are probably not aware that strawweight and bantamweight both have barrowed fighters from the weight-class. Such fighters as Chookagian, Correia, Zingano, Peña, Jędrzejczyk, Calderwood, Gadelha and others have all competed and done some of their best work at 125. Most of them were ranked in the top 5 before being signed to Invicta or the UFC. Even with all of that talent leaving the division it is at the very least as strong as bantamweight.

I believe that 115 and 125 are the only two divisions on the women’s circuit that has enough talent to support rosters in both the UFC and Bellator. Saying that flyweight is not deep enough for the UFC is an extremely weak argument to make. Either way, let’s get to your flyweight standings.

After viewing the standings you may be wondering why Anastasia Yankova does not appear in either listing. Similar to Janaisa Morandin at atomweight Yankova has not consistently made 125 pounds. In fact, she has missed weight in her last 3 showings, and has never made the flyweight limit under the Bellator banner. If she was eligible to be ranked Yankova would come in around 22, just outside of the top 20. Again, popularity should not play a role in how high someone is ranked. I have noticed that some have her ranked but I feel it is not only disrespectful to the fighters who actually make weight but it is irresponsible journalism.

Top Flyweights (116.1-126lbs):
1 Jennifer Maia (14-4-1)
2 Vanessa Porto (18-7-0)
3 Roxanne Modafferi (20-13-0)
4 Ariane Lipski (8-3-0)
5 Ilima-lei MacFarlane (6-0-0)
6 Rin Nakai (19-2-1)
7 Sarah D’Alelio (11-6-0)
8 Marilia Santos (8-1-0)
9 Agnieszka NiedzWiedz (9-0-0)
10 Juliete Silva (7-2-0)

Top Contenders:
11 Rebecca Ruth (6-2-0)
12 Simone Duarte (4-0-0)
13 Daiane Firmino (7-2-0)
14 Lena Ovchynnikova (12-4-0)
15 Isabelly Varela (7-2-0)
16 Andrea Lee (6-2-0)
17 Emily Ducote (5-2-0)
18 Brogan Walker (4-0-0)
19 Sabina Mazo (3-0-0)
20 Kate Da Silva (10-4-0)

Fights To Watch:
-#2 Vanessa Porto vs #9 Agnieszka NiedzWiedz Invicta FC 23, May 20th
-#3 Roxanne Modafferi vs #7 Sarah D’alelio Invicta FC 23, May 20th
-#4 Ariane Lipski vs #22 Diana Belbita KSW 39, May 27th