Top 10 Upsets in Women’s MMA History

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Women’s MMA fights have grown in both quantity and quality over the past few years, which naturally means more amazing underdog tales. Without further ado, this is MMASucka’s top 10 upsets in women’s MMA history.

10. Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Claudia Gadelha- UFC on FOX 13

This 2014 bout between two of strawweight’s best effectively served as a title eliminator. The winner would get the first crack at inaugural UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza. Many thought it would be Gadelha, who closed as a -300 favorite. Jedrzejczyk took a controversial split decision, but it sowed the seeds of an anything-but controversial title run.

9. Felice Herrig def. Alexa Grasso- UFC Fight Night 104

Grasso entered the fight as the next big prospect in women’s MMA. She made good on her UFC debut against Heather Clark. Many expected her to keep it rolling against Herrig, a +315 underdog. Herrig had been 2-1 in the UFC prior, and opened the eyes of many fans as she won a convincing unanimous decision over Grasso. That was the second of Herrig’s current four-fight winning streak.

8. Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm- UFC 196

Holm was fresh off her massive upset knockout of Ronda Rousey, and her first UFC bantamweight title defense was against Tate. Holm’s stock was never higher, and Tate had previously lost two fights to Rousey. Tate needed a finish to capture UFC gold entering the fifth round of her fight with Holm and got it with a rear-naked choke. Not only was it a big upset, but it was one of the best comeback fights in women’s MMA history.

7. Herica Tiburcio def. Michelle Waterson- Invicta FC 10

Tiburcio shocked Invicta fans when she submitted Waterson in the third round of their atomweight title fight. Waterson had been riding a six-fight winning streak before Tiburcio took her belt. She lost the belt to Ayaka Hamasaki in her first defense, but is looking to earn it back. She’s currently on a two-fight winning streak.

6. Michelle Waterson def. Jessica Penne- Invicta FC 5

While Waterson was victim to one of the biggest upsets in Invicta history, she also holds one of her own. She overcame the stiffest test of her career and submitted Jessica Penne in the fourth round of her atomweight title challenge. Waterson managed one successful defense before losing the title to Tiburcio.

5. Zoila Frausto def. Megumi Fujii- Bellator 34

Frausto won the Bellator women’s strawweight tournament when she upset Fujii in the finals. The win secured her the Bellator strawweight championship. To this day, she remains the only one to have won the title. Fujii was 22-0 entering the fight and was a -550 favorite. Frausto was able to mount a comeback to secure a tightly contested split decsion and hand “Mega Megu” her first loss.

4. Alexis Dufresne def. Marloes Coenen- Bellator 155

Dufresne shocked Bellator fans when she submitted WMMA pioneer Coenen in the first round. Coenen was a -600 favorite, with the majority of her own wins coming via submission. It wasn’t just the manner in which Dufresne won, it was the submission used: a rare triangle-armbar. Unfortunately, the upset is slightly marred by the fact that Dufresne was four pounds overweight for the fight.

3. Maryna Moroz def. Joanne Calderwood- UFC Fight Night 64

When Calderwood fought Moroz, she was an undefeated 9-0 and a fast-rising star in the UFC strawweight division. That all changed in 1:30. That’s all the time Moroz needed to stun Calderwood on the feet and snatch an armbar. Calderwood has since gone 2-2 and has moved up to flyweight.

2. Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk- UFC 217

Namajunas pulled off one of the biggest upsets of all time, man or woman, when she TKO’d Jedrzejczyk in their women’s strawweight title fight at Madison Square Garden. Jedrzejczyk entered the fight an undefeated 14-0. She had five consecutive title defenses and needed one more to tie Rousey’s women’s UFC record. Many thought she’d get it and surpass the record. Jedrzejczyk was a -700 favorite, with 89 percent of Tapology picking her to win. Namajunas ended that in the first round when she dropped Jedrzejczyk and followed up with ground and pound. Before the fight, fans thought Namajunas’ avenue to victory was a submission. Jedrzejczyk was regarded as one of the best strikers in all of MMA, and still is.

1. Holly Holm def. Ronda Rousey- UFC 193

There it is. One of the top-5 upsets the sport has ever seen. Entering UFC 193, Rousey seemed unbeatable. She was 12-0, finishing most women in the first round, had six UFC bantamweight title defenses and could finish people in seconds. She had Joe Rogan saying she could beat half the men in the UFC bantamweight division, and she thought she could beat former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in MMA. Holm seemed to be just another statistic in Rousey’s dominant run.

Rousey entered the fight a -1400 favorite; Holm a +830 underdog. That went out the window as soon as the fight started. Holm got the better of Rousey in the stand-up and dominated her. Rousey couldn’t get and keep Holm on the ground long enough to secure her patented armbar. Holm then knocked Rousey out with a vicious head kick and punch combination that stunned the MMA world. To this day, it’s the largest upset in women’s MMA history, and one of the largest ever.

Holm will have another chance to shock the world on Saturday when she challenges Cris “Cyborg” Justino for the featherweight title at UFC 219. 

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Michael is a big MMA fan who enjoys interviewing the sport's athletes, writing about the sport, and just discussing it. He earned his Master's in Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and his B.A. in Journalism at Stony Brook University. He also enjoys hockey, football and baseball. Feel free to hit him up if you want to discuss MMA, or any other sport!

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