For a while, Ronda Rousey was the talk of MMA after she became the first female UFC champion. With six successful title defences, Rousey appeared to be unstoppable but, as so often occurs, the baton has been passed on.
Rousey enjoyed a spectacular unveiling at the WWE’s Wrestlemania last month, becoming the latest big name to join the growing roster of female superstars in the WWE. The UFC lost a star but there’s others on the rise.
The 31-year-old’s departure obviously leaves some big holes to fill but in sport, particularly in martial arts, there’s always athletes ready to step-up and put their name in headlights. It’s no different this time around and these fights will be looking to shine after Rousey’s exit.
5 Fighters Who Can Shine After Rousey’s WWE Move
Currently the reigning UFC Bantamweight Champion, the 29-year-old Brazilian has already established herself as a star within the sport. With 15 wins to just four defeats, ‘the Lioness’ has already overcome Ronda Rousey and is the leading candidate to eclipse her.
With an impressive record of 55% strikes avoided and 75% takedowns avoided, the powerful and aggressive Nunes is a shrewd fighter who has now avoided defeat in each of her last six fights making her an odds on favourite to win her next contests. Nunes last lost against Cat Zingano in September 2014.
In the years since, she’s fought her way to become one of the sports stars and has had two successful title defences, the first of which was against Rousey in December 2016.
Another Bantamweight Fighter from Brazil, 26-year-old Vieira is unbeaten in her nine fights so far and will likely go toe-to-toe with Nunes for the UFC title in the future, although her next challenge is overcoming Zingano at UFC 222 in March.
‘Fenomeno’ has been a professional since 2014 and boasts three wins by submission, with a further two from knock-out. Specialising in the takedown, Vieira is a master of avoiding being on the receiving end and has so far managed to avoid a takedown 91% of the time.
Young and with a promising career ahead of her, Vieira is certainly one to watch and could become the next big name in UFC. Bigger tests are to come but the early signs look incredibly promising.
Previously fighting for Invicta Fighting Championships, Raquel Pennington has endured a mixed record since moving to UFC; experiencing nine wins and six losses so far. However, major improvements have been shown in her recent bouts as she’s now won four in a row.
The well-rounded ‘Rocky’ from Colorado Springs will hope to continue that form in the coming years as she looks to compete with the upper-tier fighters in the Bantamweight division, though she still has a lot to prove.
Given her upturn in consistency, Pennington will be experienced to push on in 2018 to become a household name in the sport. That will require some big wins but she has the momentum to build upon.
The ‘Venezuelan Vixen’ was the first woman to win the Ultimate Fighter and, per the latest rankings from January 2018, is #3 in the official UFC rankings. With nine wins and three defeats, she’s proven to be a force to be reckoned with.
Defeat last month to Valentina Shevchenko was a blow for Pena but she’s excellently well rounded, with four wins by three different types of submission and three wins by knock-out. Well balanced with a strong Arsenal in the ring, Pena will be aiming to climb up in the rankings in 2018.
Formerly a professional boxer and kickboxer, the experienced Holly Holm caught the eye in November 2014 by beating Ronda Rousey. Since then though, she’s lost four of her last five fights and will be seeking redemption.
Remarkably, those four defeats are the first she’s experienced in her career as she had previously won eleven in a row. Now 36, Holm is approaching the end of her career but still has plenty left in the tank to make a mark.
Now that Rousey has gone, and given that fact that Holm had previously managed to get the better of the WWE’s latest big-name recruit, Holm has the chance to become the undisputed female star of UFC but needs to get back to form.
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