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Top 5 Women's Strawweight Contenders

Updated on December 19, 2015

Who is next for Joanna Jedrzejczyk?

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Karolina Kowalkiewicz following her win over Randa Markos in her UFC debut
Karolina Kowalkiewicz following her win over Randa Markos in her UFC debut | Source

5. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Another Polish export, Karolina Kowalkiewicz made her UFC debut at UFC on FOX 17 against #7 ranked Randa Markos. Coming in on short-notice, Karolina put the division on alert with her unanimous decision win over Randa; showing off her striking abilities by countering Randa all night.

While just being her first UFC fight, taking out potential contender Randa Markos jumps her significantly up the ladder as other rising stars Paige VanZant, Joanna Calderwood, Jessica Aguilar have suffered losses recently. As well as other fighters such as Jessica Penne, Carla Esparza and Valerie Letorneau suffering losses to the champion as well.

While Karolina is still extremely new to the division, the division itself is still very new and with a Top 10 win already under her belt another big win like a Top 5 or even two more Top 10 wins can put Kowalkiewicz in line for contendership within the new year.

Source

4. Michelle Waterson

Known as "The Karate Hottie", Michelle Waterson made her UFC debut on The TUF 21 Finale against Angela Magana. Putting on a domination performance in her debut fight propelled Michelle Waterson immediately into the Top 10 of the women's Strawweight Division. Scheduled to compete against #4 Tecia Torres, Waterson had to pull out due to injury, which has her now sitting as the #11 Strawweight in the UFC.

Michelle Waterson garnered attention prior to her UFC debut due to her fights in Invicta FC. Before debuting at 115 in the UFC, Waterson was the atomweight champion in Invicta. Including winning the title over #5 and former title contender Jessica Penne.

While Waterson has only just debuted in the UFC's strawweight division, she is bound to make waves and a viable contender in the division. Training out of Jackson's MMA with new women's champion Holly Holm will only see her improve. With Torres looking to need another fight before she gets a title shot, the bout original scheduled for UFC 194 may take place in the future, a true test to see where Michelle Waterson stands in the strawweight division.

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3. Tecia Torres

Fighting out of American Top Team, "The Tiny Tornado" has quietly been making her way up the rankings since the Strawweight season of The Ultimate Fighter. With an undefeated record of 7-0, including wins over fellow TUF contestants Angela Hill and Angela Magana. Early on in her career Tecia Torres gained wins over veteran Felice Herrig and other contenders, Paige VanZant and Rose Namajunas.

Tecia Torres continued her win streak at UFC 194 with a win over debuting Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (6-0). Following UFC 194, Tecia Torres finds herself ranked at #4 behind Rose Namajunas, former champion Carla Esparza and Claudia Gadelha.

With Gadelha lined up for a rematch against Joanna Jedrzejcyzk, Tecia Torres looks to become next in line after. WIth a win over Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza return indefinite, Torres has a legitimate claim to the contender spot. With the JJ and Gadelha match not set, another fight should be in the cards for Torres but another win, especially Top 10, would be hard to deny The Tiny Tornado a shot at gold

Rose Namajunas in her win over Paige VanZant
Rose Namajunas in her win over Paige VanZant | Source

2. Rose Namajunas

Following a dominant performance over fellow rising strawweight contender, Paige Vanzant, Rose Namajunas finds herself ranked at #3 in the Women's Strawweight division, only behind former champion, Carla Esparza, and Claudia Gadelha.

A TUF Finalist, ultimately losing the finale to become the first 115 champion, Rose has not looked back since, finishing her last two fights by submission and in dominant fashion. Following the TUF Finale, it was nearly 10 months till "Thug" Rose found herself back in the octagon due to bout cancellations. Her first fight at UFC 192 found her submitting fellow TUF contestant Angela Hill in the first round. Eager to get back into the mix, Rose stepped in on short-notice to fight rising star Paige VanZant in a UFC Fight Night main event where she dominated against a tenacious PVZ and ultimately winning by submission in the 5th round.

Though only having a record of 4-2, Rose's record is deceiving. During her TUF run she won all three fights by submission to get to the final, including finishes over now #9 Joanne Calderwood and #7 Randa Markos.

With Claudia Gadelha looking to get her rematch against champion Joanna Jedrzejczyck, one more Top 10 win could have Rose next in line for a title shot.

Claudia Gadelha in her first fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Claudia Gadelha in her first fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk | Source

1. Claudia Gadelha

#1 ranked Claudia Gadelha was originally slated to fight Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a rematch at UFC 193, but due to a hand injury she suffered in her win over Jessica Aguilar, Joanna fought Valerie Letourneau.

Claudia's only loss comes to the unbeaten champion and it was a highly contested bout at UFC on FOX 13 on December 13, 2014. The bout between Gadelha and Jedrzejczyk ended in a split-decision win for Joanna Jedrzejczyk, which many believed Gadelha herself one. Joanna won the title following the Gadelha fight and has not looked back since, comfortably winning her bout and defending the title twice.

Since then Gadelha was due to fight Aisling Daly at UFN 64 but exited due to a back injury. Instead at UFC 190, Gadelha fought highly touted Jessica Aguilar in Aguilar's debut. Taking the decision win. The win put Gadelha in line for a title shot but had to sit out with a broken hand while Jedrzejczyk defended against Letourneau at UFC 193.

Claudia Gadelha is the only one who has gotten close and challenged Joanna in the division, thus making this the most anticipated rematch since the strawweight division's inception,

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