UFC 261 once again proved that the women’s divisions are as electric as the men’s division, if not more. In the co-main event, Rose Namajunas knocked out champion Zhang Weili in less than two minutes to reclaim the strawweight title. On the other hand, Valentina Shevchenko defended her flyweight title by decimating Jessica Andrade, who many tipped as the champ’s toughest test at 125lbs. The strawweight division is undoubtedly the most entertaining and competitive of the women’s divisions in the UFC. It wouldn’t also be wrong to say that it’s the most entertaining and competitive division in the promotion, male or female. However, the other two divisions are buzzing with up-and-coming contenders too. Today, we will take a look at 5 female fighters with the potential to be future UFC champions.
While Rose Namajunas was able to win the technical battle against Zhang Weili, she might be fighting another Chinese next, if Yan Xiaonan defeats Carla Esparza next month. The Chinese sensation is 6-0 in the UFC, with recent wins against former title challengers Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
Overall, she’s 13-1, and suffered her only loss more than a decade ago. Like Zhang, Xiaonan has a Sanda background and is predominantly a standup fighter. She lands nearly 6.5 significant strikes per minute on average, while absorbs half in comparison. She’s also not afraid to engage in a firefight.
Should she beat Esparza, her next fight will most probably be against Namajunas for the title, if Zhang Weili doesn’t get her rematch.
𝟝 straight wins in the UFC.
Unbeaten in 𝟙𝟘 years.
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) November 7, 2020
The hype is real. Mackenzie Dern has been in the shape of her life lately and is constantly improving her striking game. In the grappling department, she’s on another level altogether.
The number five ranked strawweight contender is potentially one win away from a title shot, and many believe she should fight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the number one contender’s spot. If she elevates her striking game to the next level, there’s no doubt in my mind that Mackenzie Dern will be a champion down the road.
Class is in session with @MackenzieDern 🍎✏️
— UFC (@ufc) April 7, 2021
The strawweight division is STACKED. There’s one top contender after another. Ideally, Suarez should have already fought for the title if it wasn’t for her injuries, but when she returns to the Octagon, she’ll be jumping right in the mix.
Like Dern, Suarez is a world-class grappler, with massive experience in wrestling and jiu-jitsu. She’s also an incredibly good standup fighter, which makes her a very well-rounded combatant. She’s also very dominant and strong. The MMA fans can’t wait for female Khabib Nurmagomedov’s return.
First round submission makes for an early night in Chile for Tatiana Suarez pic.twitter.com/SqMCKTq2J7
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) May 20, 2018
Miranda Maverick is the top prospect in the flyweight division. She’s not ready for Valentina Shevchenko just yet, as she’s only 23-years-old, but she has massive potential to become a UFC champion down the road.
The Old Dominion University Ph.D. scholar is just as good in studies as she’s inside the cage. She’s extremely well-rounded, inside the cage and outside of it as well. She can grapple, and she’s very effective on the feet, where she uses her strength and power to her advantage. She absolutely battered Liana Jojua in her UFC debut, and then went on to put on an amazing performance against Gillian Robertson last month.
She is scheduled to fight Maycee Barber next.
That is a SERIOUS elbow. 💪
Miranda Maverick is victorious in her Octagon debut! #UFC254
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) October 24, 2020
Quite unusual to see in the women’s divisions, but Aspen Ladd is a finisher. She has won six of her nine fights by the way of TKO and is an absolute beast on the mat.
In no time, she has climbed up to the number three spot in the bantamweight rankings, below Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie, who handed the prospect her only career loss by knockout. She’s a wrecking ball on the ground and is one of the scariest ground-and-pound fighters on the UFC roster, but she’s got great power in the standup too.
She does need to make some improvements to catch up with the girls ranked above her, including champion Amanda Nunes, but she has the potential to be champion down the road.
Aspen Ladd = B E A S T!
— UFC (@ufc) October 7, 2018
Which of the five fighters have the best chance of becoming future UFC champions?
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