This weekend featured a women’s bout between Felice Herrig and Justine Kish that has since made headlines for two main reasons. In this instance I am going to follow the road that catches my ears rather than my nose. In a post fight interview Felice Herrig made comments that she is “not young and beautiful enough” to be promoted by the UFC. These comments threw many off guard because of her actions in the TUF house related to the subject. Regardless of whether or not Herrig was the correct person to make this statement, I believe it holds some truth. In MMA you need to win to become champ, that will never change, but the UFC can help accelerate the journey if they want to. Depending on marketability, both men and women have been given fast track routes to the title at times. To grow a successful career in MMA the company has to want the same for you. In today’s MMA landscape marketability is viewed very differently between men and women. Using the following criteria, here are the Top 10 most marketable Women’s fighters in the UFC:
All Criteria is a score based on a 1-10 scale much like you rank girls sitting at the Food Court.
Skill (SK): Winning trumps all, if you never lose they’re forced to see you.
Physical Appearance (PA): Whether it is right or wrong, looks play a factor. There has been many Women’s Champions to date but Ronda Rousey (6 in my book) and Gina Carano (9) are still the first two that come to mind for most. Newsflash….Gina wasn’t that good but owww owww.
Fight Attitude (FA): Essentially Charisma as a fighter. Fighters are expected to be intimidating warriors.
Likeability (LA): How does the average man or woman feel about the fighter after they just watched a 15 minute interview on Good Morning America.
10. Holly Holm: 21 (SK: 7 PA: 4 FA: 5 LA: 5)
Holly made it to the top of the sport for a short period of time after knocking out the Women’s MMA Queenpin Ronda Rousey. That moment garnered her a moment of fame, but aside from her slightly above average skill she blends in with the rest. To move up on the list Holm needs to be a killer.
T-8. Amanda Nunes: 22 (SK: 8 PA: 3 FA: 9 LA: 2)
Amanda Nunes is very skilled and one of the few female fighters that you can anticipate finishes coming from. I’m not here to degrade anyone and everyone has their own personal taste, but Nunes’ appearance isn’t my cup of tea (It’s cool I’m not her’s either). She is intense as they come at fight time as well as leading up to the fight. This intensity doesn’t shut off easy and I think that hurts her with the general public. Her recent face off nonsense at the UFC Kickoff Conference with the respectful Valentina Shevchenko quickly changed my view of her.
T-8. Paige VanZant: 22 (SK: 4 PA: 8 FA: 1 LA: 9)
Life for Paige VanZant seems like a heavily medicated trip but in reality she is the rare bubbly personality that somehow lands in combat sports. Add into this the fact she’s young and attractive to those even outside the MMA world and she has loads of potential. Unfortunately her talent doesn’t even come close to matching the rest of the package and she will never be a big time UFC moneymaker. Paige isn’t a complete let down though, at least we still have those UFC action figures.
7. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos: 23 (SK: 9 PA: 2 FA: 8 LA: 4)
Cyborg in all reality is likely a 10 skillwise, but I need to see her against more UFC level competition before I hand her the crown. Physical Appearance is the same stance as I had with Nunes but when it comes to the cage she is terrifying. Her appeal to the public takes a little hit because she can often times come off too aggressive and she has been popped for illegal PED’s.
6. Felice Herrig: 25 (SK: 7 PA: 7 FA: 6 LA: 5)
At number 6 we see the girl who started this far too in depth article. Herrig is a fairly talented fighter on a 3 fight win streak. Even though she cried unpretty at her conference, most would agree that’s nonsense. She is a bit muscular for my taste but I’m not going to say no to it. When fight time comes, she has a level of intensity that I like and always goes hard to put on a show. Her likeability does take a hit with her recent verbal diarrhea, but it’s nothing she can’t recover from.
T-4. Michelle Waterson: 26 (SK: 6 PA: 8 FA: 2 LA: 10)
Michelle Waterson is above average skill wise and very good looking. She is Asian and success would attract a huge audience from that fight loving demographic. Additionally, she is a mother and full of positive energy that people adore. Unfortunately, her skills are not good enough to become a big time star and she doesn’t have the fight night intensity either.
T-4. Valentina Shevchenko: 26 (SK: 8 PA: 5 FA: 7 LA: 6)
The next challenger to the Women’s Bantamweight Championship, Valentina Shevchenko is loaded with talent and appears to be getting better each fight. She is not bad looking by any means, but will never sell fights on appearance alone. She carries controlled intensity leading up to fight time and is also aggressive in the cage. Nothing about Valentina stands out much in terms of reasons to like her, but I can respect someone who doesn’t do anything wrong.
T-4. Julianna Pena: 26 (SK: 7 PA: 7 FA: 5 LA: 7)
After winning The Ultimate Fighter Julianna Pena went on a 4 fight win streak that had her on the brink of stardom until she suffered a setback against Shevchenko. She is still a young, talented, and very good looking fighter. Although she may not be the most intense individual in building up a fight, she is very upbeat and likeable to the masses. I see her continuing up this list with time.
2. Claudia Gadelha: 28 (SK: 8 PA: 6 FA: 7 LA: 7)
Gadelha is likely the most promoted fighter in Women’s MMA that has never held the Championship Belt, but deservingly so. Her skills are second only to champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and by a narrow margin at that. Add into this that she is very cute and balances intensity with a clean cut image and the UFC’s Strawweight Division is in good shape if she ever knocks off Joanna.
1. Joanna Jedrzejczyk: 29 (SK: 10 PA: 5 FA: 7 LA: 7)
The reigning, defending, UFC Strawweight Champion captured gold and hasn’t looked back since. She is the best P4P Women’s fighter in the world and her skills are respected and admired by everyone in the community. She has times where her appearance looks better than others, but she sits in the middle of the pack there. She carries great intensity at the right times, which I believe helps make her likeable to viewers. The UFC should surely invest in their dominant Strawweight Champion.
There you have it, shut up Felice. Felice Herrig is one of the most marketable fighters on the UFC Women’s roster if she would only shut her mouth and keep winning.