Top UFC Women’s Strawweight Prospects

The Best Prospects the UFC Women's Strawweight Division has to offer
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 07 (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Women’s Strawweight (115)

There are no easy wins at Strawweight. In a division this deep, even seasoned contenders will have problems vanquishing top UFC Women’s Strawweight Prospects. This division is the toughest women’s division in the UFC and one of the most talent rich division in the sport period.

From the champion, Weili Zhang (21-1), to unranked fighters such as Amanda Lemos (8-1-1), Mallory Martin (7-3), and Loma Lookboonmee (5-2), this division is filled with top fighters in the UFC. What makes the Strawweight division so exciting is the abundance of hungry contenders jostling for their chance to get the belt. Jessica Andrade (21-8), one of the top three contenders in the division, recently moved up to the flyweight division (125), and there is still no question which women’s division has the top contenders and prospects.

Strawweight has contenders like Xiaonan Yan (13-1), who is still undefeated in her UFC career, the submission monster Tatiana Suarez (8-0), the grappling heavy Carla Esparza (17-6), and the power-punching Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2).

Every one of them is plotting to seize Weili Zhang’s title, fight purse and fame at a moment’s notice by defeating her. Life and privileges are different as the champion and top Strawweights act like it.

Every UFC Strawweight’s road to the belt will go through Rose Namajunas (9-4), and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) to get a crack at the champion.

While that is taking place, we have several electrifying prospects showcasing why they are eventual title contenders in the future.

Top UFC Women’s Strawweight Prospects: #10 Amanda Ribas (10-2)

(Photo by Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Key Facts

  • 2-0 in 2020
  • Notable wins against Paige VanZant, Randa Markos, Mackenzie Dern, Emily Whitmire
  • Last Fight: KO/TKO Loss against Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257

All-Smiles Amanda is always having a good time. She has fun in her face-offs, interviews, and on social media, but once she steps into the octagon, it’s showtime.

Ribas appears to flip a switch and fight to hurt these girls every night.

Amanda Ribas is a fast starter.

In her last 4 fights, she convincingly won the opening round.

Ribas is formidable all around, but her specialty is her ground game.

All Smiles Amanda is in the masterclass of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters in the UFC.

Her opponents know the severity of their actions when they go to the ground with Ribas. Knowing Ribas is a black belt in judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not paint the whole picture of how truly exceptional she is. Ribas’ ground & pound is deadly; her punches are thunderous.

The challengers always seem to be bleed in the same areas with the same cuts, as if she is punishing them night after night with the precision of a butcher. Because of her Judo/BJJ background, Amanda’s setups and transitions set her apart from the division’s other fighters. Ribas’ O Uchi Gari (hip throw) is sudden and efficient.

Mixing faints into her stand up, where she teases take downs, has greatly benefited her fighting style and efficacy. In her UFC career, she has scored 7 takedowns and over 15 minutes of grappling control time against her opponents. Most of her opposition wisely chooses to stay on the feet when standing across from her.

Her being tough everywhere only makes fighting her worse for the rest of the division. Amanda Ribas is aggressive and pushes the pace in order to establish control in her fights. Ribas’ footwork is agile, her boxing is crisp, and has an outstanding motor.

Contrary to popular belief, her TKO/KO loss to Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2) at UFC 257 can benefit her career.

While this is a setback loss on her path to title contention, it is also a good learning experience for when she takes her next “step up” contender in the division. As a prospect, having extra time to develop is rarely bad for them.

Amanda Ribas does not have another opponent scheduled following her loss at UFC 257; however, we should see her at least once more later this year.


Top UFC Women’s Strawweight Prospects: #11 Mackenzie Dern (9-1)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Key Facts

  • 3-0 in 2020
  • Notable wins against Virna Jandiroba, Randa Markos, Hannah Cifers, Kaline Medeiros, Montana De La Rosa
  • Next fight against Nina Ansaroff (10-6) on April 10th
Not many fighters in the UFC looked as impressive as Mackenzie Dern looked in 2020.

Opponents who dare to go to the ground with the two-time BJJ world champion most likely have already lost the fight. In her short UFC career, Mackenzie Dern already has 3 submissions out of her 5 wins (5-1 in UFC). Dern is ever-improving, not only in each fight but each round.

In her most recent fight against promising prospect Virna Jandiroba (16-1), she finally got to display her other skills, aside from her Brazilian Jui Jitsu (BJJ). Since these two fighters are highly skilled grapplers and BJJ artists, this fight stayed on the feet for the most part. While she is still reckless in her stand-up game, her pressure distracts her opponents from their own game plan.

Against Jandiroba, she threw with vigor, power, and a lot of output, finishing the fight with 101 total strikes landed. That is an impressive striking volume from a career grappler. Mackenzie Dern defied odds and won the deciding 3rd round after Jandiroba broke Dern’s nose with a knee late in the 2nd round.

Dern’s power hooks had her opponent wobbling back towards the cage in the 3rd. Those power combinations were set up by her timely body kicks and lead jabs.

The constant pressure led Dern to a unanimous decision win (29-28 for all three judges).

Mackenzie used to have issues with her motor in general, as well as her striking output and making weight for her previous fights. She even thought about moving up to the flyweight division (125) to avoid having to make 115lb again. After giving birth to her daughter however, Dern has been in the best shape of her life, and her motor and striking output has been better than ever.

Mackenzie Dern will take another jump up the rankings and fight against #5 Nina Ansaroff (10-6) on April 10th.


Top UFC Women’s Strawweight Prospects: #15 Livinha “The Brazilian Gangsta” Souza (14-2)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Key Facts

  • 1-0 in 2020
  • Notable wins against Ashley Yoder, Sarah Frota, Janaisa Morandin, Ayaka Hamasaki, DeAnna Bennett, Katja Kankaanpaa, Andressa Rocha
  • Next fight against Amanda Lemos (8-1-1) on March 6th

Unlike many of the up and coming fighters in the UFC, Souza has already been tested and faced formidable opponents in Ashley Yoder, Sarah Frota, and Brianna Van Buren.

Since she started facing all of these seasoned veterans, she has started to fight like one.

The Brazilian Gangsta is about her business.

Livinha Souza thrives on her efficiency and only throws to inflict pain. Souza’s inside low calf kick is so ferocious that she makes her opponents’ leg fly up into the air every time. This was very apparent in her most recent fight against Ashley Yoder (7-5), where she landed 23 strikes, and Yoder limped through most of the 3rd round.

Livinha knows how to weather the storm. She handles her opponents’ pressure so well because of her good base and balance.

Many opponents who try to take her down fail to realize that Livinha is a superb scrambler. Souza excels in winning 50/50 positioning and loves to push a pace on the ground.

Her skills will be on display when she takes on Amanda Lemos (8-1-1) on March 6th.