UFC Strawweight Division: Results, Ranking, History, Fighters to Watch



UFC Strawweight Division: Results, Ranking, History, Fighters to Watch

The UFC strawweight division is one of the most underrated weight classes in the promotion. However, real fans of MMA know exactly how exciting these events can get. With a combination of skill, speed, and resolve, the female athletes in this division continue to exceed expectations and captivate audiences worldwide.

Since its arrival in 2014, the title of the UFC Strawweight Champion has changed hands six times. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at this weight class including its history and the top fighters to watch this season. So let’s get started.

UFC Strawweight Division Explained

The strawweight division is a women-only category in the UFC where the weight class ranges between 106 and 115 pounds. It's the 11th division to join the ranks and has already become one of UFC's most entertaining and promising weight categories.

With fighters like Zhang Weili, Amanda Rojas, Carla Esparza, and many more joining the ranks, this division is not one that you want to miss. Yes, it's underrated, but fans of MMA know that these women are fierce and can put on a fantastic show.

The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show in 2014 kicked it off with Carla Esparza claiming the first championship title. But ever since, the title has changed hands six times and presented viewers with many memorable fights and face-offs.

Recent Notable UFC Strawweight Division Fights

  • UFC 300: Zhang Weili vs Xiaonan Yan – Weili won via unanimous decision
  • UFC 300: Jessica Andrade vs Marina Rodriguez – Andrade won via unanimous decision

The co-main event of UFC 300 was a title fight between two Chinese fighters, Zhang Weil and Xiaonan Yan. Yet, despite these being two of the world's best 115-pound fighters, it wasn't a very close matchup. Weili dominated the entire fight, and was seconds away from submitting Yan in the very first round. Another dominant performance from another dominant fighter. 

Also at UFC 300 was another important fight between Jessica Andrade and Marina Rodriguez. Andrade, who is a former UFC champion, proved to be the better fighter in this matchup, and might be just a couple wins away from fighting for the belt once again.

Upcoming Notable UFC Strawweight Division Fights

  • Luana Pinheiro vs Angela Hill

With a lot of action in recent months, there isn't too many noteworthy fights taking place in the UFC's strawweight division coming up. There is, however, one ranked matchup betwen Luana Pinheiro and Angela Hill on May 18. Considering these are two impressive strikers, this one is highly likely to excite.

Who is the Current UFC Strawweight Champion?

Zhang Weili is the reigning champ in the UFC strawweight division. Nicknamed “Magnum”, this 33 year old Chinese-born fighter has a career record of 24-3-0 with 11 TKO wins and 8 wins by submissions.

She joined the UFC in 2018 and rapidly climbed the strawweight ranks with dominant wins. In 2019, Zhang secured the victory against Jessica Andrade to claim the UFC strawweight title in front of her Chinese fans. She defended it in a thrilling split decision over Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 248.

Zhang's reign ended when Rose Namajunas knocked her out in the first round at UFC 261. They rematched at UFC 268 – Zhang managed to score a takedown 3-times against Rose to secure the early rounds. However, that wasn’t enough as she lost in a narrow split decision.

She later on defeated Carla Esparza at UFC 281 with a rear-naked choke to reclaim the title of the Strawweight Champion in 2022. Amanda Lemos challenged her title at UFC 292 in Boston. But Zhang delivered the best performance of her career with her powerful strikes and secured a unanimous victory in her Title defense.

As Zhang Weili continues her second reign as strawweight champion, the list of challengers lining up to face her grows longer and longer. Fighters like Rose Namajunas, Jessica Andrade, Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Carla Esparza are all itching for another shot at “Magnum” and the title she proudly holds.

Zhang has made it clear she will not give up her belt easily. Her ever-improving skills and warrior spirit suggest more epic fights. And her fans are eager to see her tested against the very best. She is still only 33 years of age, her best days may yet still be ahead.

UFC Strawweight Division Rankings in 2024

The women’s strawweight division in UFC has had plenty of excellent fighters over the years. Here are the top 15 active fighters in the current season:

  • Champion – Zhang Weili
  1. Tatiana Suarez
  2. Yan Xiaonan
  3. Amanda Lemos
  4. Jéssica Andrade
  5. Virna Jandiroba
  6. Marina Rodriguez
  7. Mackenzie Dern
  8. Amanda Ribas
  9. Luana Pinheiro
  10. Loopy Godinez
  11. Tabatha Ricci
  12. Angela Hill
  13. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  14. Michelle Waterson-Gomez
  15. Gillian Robertson

Zhang Weili is the champion leading the charge with her 25-3 fight record. She is currently on a three-game winning streak. Tatiana Suarez, Yan Xiaonan, and Amanda Lemos are holding the top three spots on the leaderboard.

Other names to watch include Tabatha Ricci, Angela Hill, and Gillian Robertson who are all fighting hard to break into the top 10. 

Fighters to Watch in the UFC Strawweight Division

There’s no doubt that Zheng Weili is a formidable fighter. She is the Strawweight Champion – after all. But there are many worthy fighters out there that are worth keeping an eye out for. Here are our three top fighters to watch in the UFC strawweight division:

1. Tatiana Suarez

Hailing from the USA, Tatiana Suarez is a 34-year-old MMA fighter with 0 losses in her career. It starts to look less impressive, though, when you consider that she’s been out of the game for 44 months due to a knee problem. 

Regardless, she made a comeback in the scene in 2023 and is hungry for the win. She is currently ranked 1st in the World’s Best Strawweight Fighter ranking, and we’re pretty excited to see how she performs the next time she gets into the octagon.

2. Yan Xiaonan

In the second spot, Yan Xionan from China holds an impressive record of 17-3-0 at 34 years of age. More importantly, out of her 17 wins, seven came from total knockouts. Her upcoming bout against Zheng Weili in April is a much-anticipated event for the fans.

This China vs China title fight promises to be an epic showdown between two of the sport's most skilled female fighters. Will Zheng defend her title? Or will we see a new face at the top? We can’t wait to find out!

3. Jéssica Andrade

At 36 years of age, Jéssica Andrade is a fighter you might not think much of when you see her. But her career record of  25-12-0 makes her one of the most active fighters in the weight category. After her dominant knockout win against Mackenzie Dern, she is looking pretty unstoppable. Her upcoming fight against Marina Rodriguez at UFC 300 will give us a better idea of her potential. So keep your eyes peeled for that one!

History of the UFC Strawweight Division

The UFC Strawweight division was first introduced in The Ultimate Fighter in 2014, giving the women MMA fighters a solid platform that they can make their own. Ever since, it’s been host to incredible fights and memorable moments.

The 115-pound elite women athletes around the world truly showcase how dominant they are in their weight class. Let’s take a look back at the thrilling history of the weight class.

1. The First Champion – Carla Esparza (2014)

The first UFC Strawweight Champion was crowned through The Ultimate Fighter Reality TV show. The third-round submission of Rose Namajunas by Carla Esparza in the season finale will go down in history as the first titleholder match in the UFC strawweight division.

2. Joanna Jędrzejczyk’s Dominant Run (2015-2017)

The following year, the Polish fighter Joanna Jędrzejczyk claimed the title of Strawweight Champion, defeating Esparza at UFC 185. She had a dominant run, winning five consecutive title defenses against Jessica Andrade and Namajunas. She was the First European female UFC champion and still holds the record for holding the Championship title for the longest period.

3. Namajunas Dethrones the Champ (2017-2019)

The dominant 966-day run of Joanna Jędrzejczyk was finally broken by Rose “Thug” Namajunas in 2017 in one of the most shocking and memorable events of the tournament. At UFC 217, Namajunas only had one goal in her mind: to win the title. She knocked out Jędrzejczyk in round one and also defended her belt in an immediate rematch.

4. Andrade’s Slam Heard Around the World (2019)

Things only got better when Jessica Andrade made her championship claim. Slamming the defending champ Namajunas on her head, she snatched the title for Brazil. Though her reign was short-lived, her victory remains one of the most memorable incidents in the division.

5. Zhang Weili Adds Excitement (2019-2020)

China's Zhang Weili announced her arrival by handing Andrade her first KO loss. She further cemented her championship status in 2020's Fight of the Year against Jędrzejczyk. Zhang and Jędrzejczyk battled for 25 thrilling minutes in a reminder of why fans love strawweight.

6. Namajunas Regains Her Belt (2021-2022)

Namajunas recovered from Andrade's vicious slam to recapture her title in 2021. She made history as the first woman to regain a UFC belt by knocking out Zhang Weili. Her dominant performance in the matchup also led to her getting her first Performance of the Night bonus award.

7. Esparza Makes a Comeback (2022)

In 2022, Carla Esparza once again found herself on top of the division by outpointing Namajunas for the belt. Eight years after their first meeting, Esparza was again the Strawweight Champ.

8. Zhang Weili Returns to Glory (2022-Present)

Zhang Weili capped off a dominant 2022 run by submitting Esparza to become a two-time UFC champ. With high-level contenders still battling for shots at Zhang's belt, the future remains bright for the UFC's most exciting women's division.

From Esparza to Jędrzejczyk to Namajunas and Zhang Weili, the UFC strawweight title has been held by pioneers and trailblazers. With a mix of established veterans and rising prospects, fans can expect more unforgettable moments to come.

The future of the strawweight division remains incredibly promising, with new contenders continuing to emerge to challenge the elite fighters at the top. As the talent pool expands, fans can expect even more competitive and thrilling title fights.

One thing that is certain is that the strawweights will continue bringing excitement and putting on Fights of the Night and Year. The combination of world-class technique and unwavering toughness has made 115 pounds one of the UFC's marquee divisions. With history as a guide, the future remains brighter than ever for these ferocious women warriors.

UFC Strawweight Division FAQs

Who is the UFC Strawweight Champion?

The current UFC Strawweight Champion is Zheng Weili from China. She claimed the title for the second time in 2022 defeating Carla Esparza and has defended it once against Amanda Lemos. 

What is the Weight Limit in the UFC Strawweight Division?

The weight limit for the UFC strawweight division is 115 pounds or 52 kg. 

Who is the Best UFC Strawweight Fighter?

Zheng Weili is widely considered as the best UFC strawweight fighter with her nearly perfect record of 24 wins and 3 losses. She’s been crowned the Strawweight Champion two times and is currently holding the titles for two years straight.

Bren Gray is our resident Kiwi, and has been writing about sports since he could first string words together. He first fell in love with boxing when David Tua took on Lennox Lewis in 2000, and hasn't looked back since.