Some of the most historic moments in women’s UFC History since Rousey vs Carmouche.
It’s hard to believe that it was just nine years ago that the UFC had its debut women’s MMA bout when Ronda Rousey fought Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 on Feb. 23, 2013. While women had already made their strides in other pro-MMA organizations like Strikeforce as well as the making of the all women’s organization Invicta FC in 2012, the UFC was still considered to be the top promotion, and having the same opportunity open up for female fighters was a massive decision that sparked praise and controversy.
In 2011 Dana White famously stated that women would never fight in the UFC, but that changed when he came across Ronda Rousey. Her prowess in judo was truly ahead of her time and her accolades spoke for itself; Rousey was an undefeated fighter known for ending her fights in just seconds in both her amateur and professional fights and an Olympian judoka who trained with legends like Gene “the godfather of grappling” Lebell. She spent a lot of her time training at Hayastan MMA in North Hollywood, CA mostly with men, many times much bigger than her. Her grappling skills and undeniable winning streak in addition to her marketable look are what eventually changed White’s mind.
Since then, the UFC has scouted such incredibly talented female fighters that the trajectory of the women’s division is filled with tons of historic moments. It’s incredible to think just nine years ago the question was still ‘should women be allowed to fight in the UFC?’ as it’s clear now that hard work and talent have overshadowed the initial chatters of doubt.
In honor of the nine-year anniversary of the first women’s fight here are some of the most historic moments in the women’s UFC since then.
The fastest knockout in women’s history
For someone who is known for submitting her opponents in just seconds, it might be surprising to learn that Rousey tied for the fastest KO in a women’s MMA fight when she knocked out Alexis Davis in just 16 seconds for the bantamweight championship bout at UFC 175 on July 5, 2014.
What’s really cool about this fight is the way Rousey hit Davis with some good shots before stunning her with an overhand right followed by one of Rousey’s famous judo throws where she used the dominant ground position to pepper Davis with shots before the fight was stopped.
Davis was so dazed she didn’t realize the referee was standing over her and she was trying to fight him. While she was in that position Rousey could have still easily submitted her but she decided to finish this particular fight the way she started it and it was definitely a great win to add to her highlight reel.
Rousey held the record until almost five years to the day another bantamweight fight at UFC Sacrament on July 13, 2019, when Germaine de Randamie earned a TKO against Aspen Ladd just 16 seconds into the first round. De Randamie landed a clean right hand that dropped Ladd and hurt her pretty badly. The referee stopped the fight much to Ladd’s disdain even leading Ladd to appeal for the match to be declared a no-contest, an effort that subsequently failed.
The first woman inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame
On July 5, 2018, Rousey was the first woman to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in their modern wing, reserved for fighters who joined the organization from November 2000 and beyond. It seems only fitting that the woman who inspired Dana White to allow women to join the UFC would be the first to earn the honor. In addition to being an excellent fighter, at the height of her career, she was the highest-paid fighter in the organization and became a household name. According to ESPN, she has the record for four of the five fastest finishes in women’s UFC bantamweight history. On the day of her induction, Ronda hoped that she would “be the first of many” women who would eventually earn the honor of being entered into the UFC’s Hall of Fame.
The first women’s double champion
Amanda Nunes had fought professionally in both Strikeforce and Invicta FC before making her UFC debut in August 2013. After scoring three wins in a row inside of a year against opponents like Sara McMann and Valentina Shevchenko, Nunes earned a title shot for the bantamweight championship against Miesha Tate, who got submitted via a rear-naked choke in the first round at UFC 200 in July 2016. Nunes continued to defend the belt three more times before making the decision to change weight classes to fight Cris “Cyborg” Justino at 145 pounds in the featherweight division for the title at UFC 232 in December 2018. From the start, the fight had a lot of energy with both fighters hitting each other with clean shots, however, Nunes hit her with a big right hand, dropping Justino multiple times before knocking her out inside of the first minute of the first round. Nunes became the first female double champ, holding a belt in the bantamweight and featherweight division and her star power undeniably rose from that point. She remained undefeated and continued to hold both belts, until December 2021 at UFC 269 when she lost the bantamweight title to Julianna Pena after she pulled one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
The first woman to win in three different weight classes
Jessica Andrade is a veteran in the game who’s been in the UFC practically since the start of the women’s division in 2013. She’s an excellent striker with scary knockout power and she’s just as adept on the ground with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Andrade has faced many of the organization’s best, such as Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko over the course of her tenure in the UFC. After defeating Katlyn Chookagian via TKO in the first round at UFC Fight Island 6 in October 2020, she became the first female fighter in the UFC to win fights in three different weight classes, including bantamweight, strawweight, and flyweight according to statistics published by the UFC. According to MMA Junkie, Andrade is one of just 13 fighters in the entire organization to earn the accomplishment.
The first woman to regain a championship belt
Rose Namajunas made history when she knocked out Weili Zhang in the first round of the strawweight championship title fight at UFC 261 on April 24, 2021, and became the first woman in the UFC to regain a championship belt. The fight started out a little slow as both fighters skillfully edged each other out before getting more aggressive and landing shots on each other. Namajunas landed a head kick that immediately dropped Zhang and from there she followed her to the ground and continued punching her until the referee stepped in and called the fight. Zhang immediately contested the stoppage, despite being obviously wobbly and dazed. Still, the victory was still a solid win for Namajunas and landed her a place in history.
Namajunas initially lost the belt to Jessica Andrade at UFC 237 by knockout via a vicious slam in 2019 but took the loss as an opportunity to better herself, even avenging the loss to Andrade at UFC 251 before landing the title shot against Zhang and making history. Most recently Namajunas defended the title again in an all-out war between her and Zhang in November 2021 at UFC 268, earning a split decision win. It seems likely they may have a trilogy at some point down the line.
The woman with the most consecutive title defenses
On September 2021, Valentina Shevchenko defended the flyweight belt against Lauren Murphy at UFC 266, making that her sixth consecutive title defense. Shevchenko has the most title defenses in women’s flyweight history, but she’s also tied with Rousey whose title defenses in the bantamweight division earned the most consecutive title defenses in women’s UFC history. Both fighters are excellent martial artists with a lot of heart and a ton of technical skill. It will be interesting to see what Shevchenko does next as she is currently on an eight-fight winning streak and has not lost a fight in over five years. Shevchenko also holds some other records in the flyweight division such as most knockout wins and most finished in the division.
The woman with the most significant strikes in UFC history
Casey O’Neill is an up-and-coming fighter in the UFC who is currently undefeated at 9-0. Most recently she fought Roxanne Modafferi for her retirement fight at UFC 271 on February 12, 2022. This fight was an all-out war and it was incredible to see both fighters go back and forth for three rounds. At the end of the fight, O’Neill earned another win on her record and made history for the most significant strikes landed in a single fight in women’s flyweight history with 229 significant strikes landed. As if this accomplishment wasn’t impressive enough, according to MMA by the numbers, O’Neill is No. 3 for the most significant strikes landed in a three-round fight in UFC history, third to Nate Diaz who landed 239 strikes vs. Cowboy Cerrone in 2011 and Sean O’Malley with 230 strikes landed vs. Kris Moutinho in 2021. Casey is already making waves as she continues making a name for herself in the organization and it’ll be interesting to see what record she breaks next and who her next opponent may be.
First and only UFC female cutman in the UFC
Swayze Valentine first became a cutman in 2006 but earned the role for the UFC in 2014 at UFC 170 on February 22, headlined by Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, practically a year to the day when Rousey fought Carmouche at UFC 157. According to an interview with Bloody Elbow in 2014, Valentine immersed herself in the MMA world, perfecting her craft by working with multiple organizations before landing a gig with the UFC. She’s still the only female cutman to this day and according to Valentine, despite many ups and downs in the role, still loves the industry.
The first female commentator
The first UFC commentator ever was Kathy Long, a world champion kickboxer who was a commentator for the first UFC that took place on November 12, 1993. This was pre-Zuffa days, where the fights had no regulations and were pretty much no holds barred. Long was the perfect commentator as a professional fighter and a lifelong martial artist, but at the time she was at the height of her career, still fighting as well as doing work in film, and she didn’t continue with her commentator role. Obviously, in the context of this article, this was pre-Rousey days but Long was a pioneer in combat sports that has had a role in opening up opportunities for women, both in and outside of the Octagon.
Laura Sanko became the first post-Zuffa UFC commentator in 2021 when she began doing commentary for Dana White Contender Series.