Though Ronda Rousey broke the mold in the mainstream for women's MMA, and women like Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes have pushed the sport further and pushed Rousey out, there are several other women that are worth our attention.
Women's MMA is here to stay, and has been proven to be a draw both monetarily and in terms of public consciousness. When looking at all MMA organizations, you'll see a sound group of capable female fighters that are on the way up in their careers. To get a glimpse at some of the women that are pushing their way to the top in the sport, read on and consider these fighters you may or may not have heard of.
Bellator is putting the juice behind Macfarlane, the currently undefeated women's flyweight champ. The 28-year-old will help close out the year with a title defense in her home state of Hawaii against challenger Valerie Letourneau. This fight will headline the event and is the first time that the organization has brought a card to Hawaii.
What's more, the event will be broadcast on DAZN, the sports streaming platform that also has relationships and deals in place with boxing promoter Eddie Hearn. There's been a huge push for this platform, so Macfarlane serving as a flagship ambassador is a great look for a fighter trying to make a name for herself.
She's already done that in terms of her fight career, as her record currently stands at 8-0, with her most three victories coming by submission. Macfarlane is also undefeated as an amateur and in combat jiu-jitsu. She currently holds a combat jiu-jitsu title as a participant in the Eddie Bravo Invitational.
Macfarlane also has a bit of a following due to one of her fight videos went viral when someone titled it "Soccer Mom Loses to MMA Fighter".
The Japanese fighter has a lot to prove since fizzling out of the UFC, and if her recent fights are any indication, she's coming back with a vengeance.
Nakai, currently 20-2-1, was undefeated going into her UFC bouts -- which is where she suffered her only two defeats. Her two losses were both decisions, at the hands of Miesha Tate and Leslie Smith.
Since then, Nakai has been undefeated and has stopped all of her opponents. Her four fights since the UFC all took place in Pancrase, and ended with three TKOs and a rear naked choke submission. Nakai, a Judo fighter, has several other stoppages under her belt, from punches, armbars, Kimora, Americana, and other submissions. She's been fighting since 2006 and has plenty of solid experience under her belt.
Aside from professional fights, Nakai has been training Judo since she was 3 years old.
She's looking to brand herself uniquely, as she even showed up to UFC pressers in a school girl outfit, and many of her promotional videos have been Japanese fetish-style, per Nakai's direction.
Dern is young, undefeated at 7-0 and as accomplished as they come in her young MMA career.
The 25-year old has a black belt in jiu jitsu and is a BJJ world champion. Expectedly, 4 of her 7 years have come by way of submission, to include arm bars and chokes.
Dern has fought in Legacy FC and Invicta, and made her UFC debut with two fights earlier this year. If Dern hopes to shine as a professional, she's going to have to get her weight under control, as missing weight has been a big problem throughout her pro career. When she does put it all together Dern's future is bright, as she has several grappling gold medals and has been working on her boxing.
After her most recent fight, Dern vowed never to miss weight again.
The "Unstoppable" Angela Lee is an undefeated fighter at 9-0, with a whopping 7 of her fights coming by way of submission.
She also holds a black belt in Taekwondo. Lee fights at Straweight is the current ONE Atomweight champion. When Joanna Jedrzejczyk held the women's straweight title, a cross-promotional fight between her and Lee was speculated.
However, Lee received criticism from some fighters, such as the Karate Hottie, Michelle Waterson, who said that Lee isn't fighting stiff enough competition. Lee said she's very aware of the talent UFC and knows that she could hold her own.
Lee is only 21 years old and has plenty of time for her star to rise as she moves forward in her career. She's already being compared to Ronda Rousey due to her long run of dominance by way of submission victories.
Hill is an accomplished kickboxer that hasn't been able to all the way put things together in her MMA career.
She was recruited to the UFC after just one fight and then won a decision in her Ultimate FIghter debut.
From there, Hill was immediately thrown to stiff competition, and lost by decision to Tecia Torres and submission to Rose Namajunas. Hill then hit her stride, notching two KO victories and two decision victories in Invicta. Her current record stands at 8-5, and Hill says she's learned a lot from all of her fights and has a lot to prove.
The former straweight champ is always a fun watch, as she's gotten three performance of the night awards in Invicta, and a fight of the night bonus in her loss to Jessica Andrade.
Hill is a southpaw that can create a lot of matchup problems as she progresses through her career. She has a lot of ground to make up in her title quest, as she's currently ranked 14th in her division.
As you can see, there are plenty of fighters looking to rise to prominence in the sport. These women are all at different points in their careers, and all are clawing their way to the top when it comes to MMA. Consider these fighters and keep your eye on them to learn the ins and outs of what makes them unique.