Which Female Fighters Were the Best in 2016?

MMA Women 2016

Since 2009, the Women’s MMA Press Committee—comprised of a handful of journalists—votes on the best in women’s MMA.

The committee for the 2016 awards included:

So, who were the winners for 2016?

Fight of the Year: Angela “Unstoppable” Lee def. Mei Yamaguchi via unanimous decision at ONE Championship 42: Ascent to Power on May 6, 2016 in Singapore.

Check it out right here:

Knockout of the Year: Charmaine Tweet defeats Latoya Walker via spinning back fist 3:41 into the first round on May 7, 2016 at Invicta 17 in Costa Mesa, California. You need Fight Pass for this one, but check it out: https://www.ufc.tv/video/charmaine-tweet-vs-latoya-walker-invicta-17.

Submission of the Year: Jenny Huang defeats April Osenio via Gogoplata at 4:28 of round 2 at ONE Championship 50 on December 20, 2016. They took the video down, sadly, but this was the smoothest gogoplata you’ve ever seen.

Fighter of the Year: Amanda Nunes

Last year, Brazilian phenom Amanda Nunes defeated Valentina Shevchenko by unanimous decision, won the UFC women’s bantamweight championship by slapping a rear-naked choke on Miesha Tate just 3 minutes and 16 seconds into their fight, and defended her title with a stunning TKO victory over “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey in just 48 seconds. The last two fights won her well-deserved Performance of the Night bonuses, and she also won best bantamweight fighter and Fighter of the Year in the WMMA Press Awards.

We also have awards in the other four divisions.

Featherweight: Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino

Cyborg had a pretty good year last year. First, she defended her Invicta championship by defeating Daria Ibragimova via KO with just two seconds left in the first round. Then, she made her way into the UFC, defeating Leslie Smith via TKO in 1:21 in an explosive catchweight (140 lb.) bout in Curitiba, Brazil. Finally, she followed that up with more of the same: a TKO victory over Lina Länsberg, this time 2:29 into the 2nd round, in another catchweight bout, this time in Brasilia, Brazil.

In December, the UFC was notified of a potential USADA doping violation by Justino. But, the fighter was granted a retroactive therapeutic use exemption in February of this year and her suspension was lifted.

A 2011 doping violation aside, Cyborg hasn’t lost a bout since May 2005. Her record is 17-1(1).

Flyweight: Jennifer Maia

Chute Box Academy’s Jennifer Maia may have only had two fights in 2016, winning both by decision (one unanimous, one split), but she’s worked her way up the ranks in those two bouts. First, she defeated Vanessa Porto to win the interim Invicta FC flyweight belt (and Fight of the Night honors). Then, she defeated MMA pioneer Roxanne Modafferi by split decision at Invicta FC 19.

MMA Women 2016

Strawweight: Joanna Jędrzejczyk

The strawweight division is absolutely stacked, and Jędrzejczyk has fought her way to the top. The Polish Muay Thai specialist won the UFC championship back in 2015, defending it successfully in four bouts since, including two last year. First, she earned a unanimous decision victory over Cláudia Gadelha in one of the best women’s fights of the year. Then, she defeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz via decision, bringing her record to 13-0.

Atomweight: Ayaka Hamasaki

Japanese kickboxer Ayaka Hamasaki is one of the top women fighters in the world. Last year, she defended her atomweight belt twice: first by submitting Amber Brown via amrbar at Invicta FC 16, then by TKO (doctor stoppage) versus Jinh Yu Frey.

Inspirational Fighter of the Year: Miesha Tate

Miesha Tate has shown sportsmanship throughout the years, but 2016 was an eventful one for her. Not only did she help a little girl who broke her arm down a mountain, she also saved her boyfriend’s mom’s life with some quick thinking.

Newcomer of the Year: Veronica Macedo

Macedo went pro this year, fought seven (count ’em) fights, went 5-1-1, and signed with the UFC. Despite her sole loss to Ashlee Evans-Smith in her UFC debut, she clearly has a bright future ahead of her.

MMA Women 2016

Amateur of the Year: Aleksandra Toncheva

Toncheva has an 8-0 ammy record—5-0 in 2016—and is the IMMAF World & European Champion. Keep an eye on her for sure.

Sponsor of the Year: V-Moda

I never vote in this category (hello, conflict of interest), but I think they sell headphones or something.

As with any awards, readers and enthusiasts often have different ideas than writers do. Did we miss anything or get something wrong? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

  • Juchi

    Somehow Tate retiring after two straight losses strikes me as a little less than inspirational, but to each their own.

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