For a sport as grueling and violent as mixed martial arts, you might be surprised to know that there are some absolutely stunningly beautiful women who choose to fight for a living. In my humble opinion, these are some of the hottest female fighters in MMA.
Paige VanZant was, at one point, one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster. The Oregon native stumbled across Ken Shamrock’s MMA gym while she was looking for a dance studio as a teenager.
She began training boxing and jiu jitsu, eventually competing in her first amateur fight at age 18. In 2013, the UFC signed VanZant to be part of their newly created strawweight division.
VanZant’s appearance and fighting skills earned her multiple opportunities outside of the cage, including appearing on Chopped and a season of Dancing with the Stars. She continues to model for brands such as Nike and Columbia Sportswear, and even appeared in the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
As of August 2020, Paige VanZant did not receive a contract extension from the UFC, and will instead try her luck at bare-knuckle boxing for BKFC.
“The Karate Hottie” was actually pursuing modelling before drastically changing career paths in 2007.
The lifelong athlete started training karate at age 10, where she earned her black belt. Waterson made herself known in 2007 when she appeared on Fight Girls, a reality show that followed the career of kickboxers trying to win world championships.
After appearing on the show and amassing a 4-2 MMA record, Waterson took the next step in her career by signing with Strikeforce in 2008. After a four-fight stint with Invicta FC, the UFC signed “The Karate Hottie” in 2015.
Waterson has continued to model even while competing in MMA appearing in multiple TV shows and photoshoots since her professional debut. In 2017, she was even featured in ESPN’s The Body Issue.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern is one of the most decorated female grapplers of all time. She has over 20 gold medals in international BJJ competitions, and didn’t make her MMA debut until 2016.
Dern began training BJJ at 3 years old with her father and stepmother, who are also both black belts. The Brazilian-American got her own black belt at just 19 years of age, proving her proficiency in the sport.
She made it to the UFC in 2018, where she beat Ashley Yoder at UFC 222 via split decision. Dern’s current MMA record is an impressive 8-1.
In 2019, Dern had her first child with Brazilian professional surfer Wesley Santos.
Don’t let her looks fool you – Miesha “Cupcake” Tate is one of the toughest women to ever step foot in the octagon.
The former UFC and Strikeforce bantamweight champion has had quite the MMA career both inside and outside of the cage. Her combat sports experience extends back to Franklin Pierce High School, where she was an avid wrestler and even won a state championship in 2005. Her love for grappling inspired her to begin her MMA career in 2007.
Tate won the UFC Bantamweight championship in 2016, defeating Holly Holm via rear naked choke. She eventually lost the belt later that year to Amanda Nunes, and retired that November after losing to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205.
Today, Miesha Tate is the Vice President for ONE Championship in Singapore, where she lives with her family.
Mexican strawweight Alexa Grasso looks too nice to hurt anybody. Her 11 professional MMA wins say otherwise.
The 27-year-old striker started her mixed martial arts career in 2012, going 5-0 in her home country of Mexico before getting signed to Invicta FC. In 2016, Grasso was signed to the UFC, where she won her promotional debut against Heather Jo Clark that November.
After missing weight for her UFC 246 bout against Claudio Gadelha, Grasso announced that she would be moving up to flyweight for her next fight.
Although she never fought in the UFC, Gina “Crush” Carano is such an accomplished fighter we had to include her on this list.
Starting her combat sports career in Muay Thai, Carano amassed an impressive 12-1-1 record before transitioning to MMA in 2006. She won her first two fights by knockout, prompting Strikeforce to give her a call to fight in their promotion.
She went 7-0 before being matched up with Cris Cyborg in the first high profile televised female MMA fight in 2009. She was ultimately defeated by Cyborg, prompting her to retire at 7-1.
The end of her MMA career sparked a whole new path for Carano, however. Her cover girl looks and martial arts experience set her up for a prime career as an actress. Since her retirement, Carano has appeared in Fast & Furious 6, Deadpool, and Star Wars: The Mandalorian.
Tracy Cortez became interested in MMA at just 14 years old after watching her older brother Jose beat UFC veteran Drew Fickett. Soon after the fight, Jose brought Tracy to his training gym in Phoenix, AZ, where he put her in the ring immediately with a professional boxer.
“I got my ass handed to me,” Cortez later told ESPN. But that didn’t deter her. Today, she is a member of the UFC roster boasting an impressive 7-1 record.
At just 26 years old and with just 8 pro fights, Tracy Cortez is still very young in her MMA career. She hasn’t gotten a ton of opportunities outside of the cage yet, but her stunning looks and promising martial arts talent makes her a potential star on the rise.
Hawaiian flyweight Rachael Ostovich made her professional debut in January 2014, which she lost via TKO in the 2nd round.
Despite this initial loss, Ostovich continued fighting and eventually landed a spot on The Ultimate Fighter 26. She won her opening fight on the show with a rear naked choke, but lost a unanimous decision in the quarterfinals leading to her elimination.
After the show, Ostovich was signed to the UFC, where she is currently 1-2 in the promotion including a loss to the aforementioned Paige VanZant.
Ostovich tested positive for Ostarine in early 2020 due to a tainted supplement, and was subsequently suspended by USADA for eight months. She still appeared on Dana White: Lookin’ For a Fight – Honolulu, where she stole the show while showing the UFC president around Hawaii.
Strawweight legend Joanna Jedrzejczyk is still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
She started training Muay Thai when she was 16 years old, eventually competing in national tournaments and pro fights. Before taking her skills to MMA, Jedrzejczyk won over 60 matches in her 10-year Muay Thai and kickboxing career.
The Polish mixed martial artist won the UFC Strawweight Championship in 2015, putting on a one-sided beating over Carla Esparza. She went on to defend this belt five consecutive times before losing to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217 in Jedrzejczyk’s first professional MMA loss.
Most recently, Jedrzejczyk was involved in one of the greatest female fights of all time, going to war with current strawweight champion Zhang Weili.
Amanda Ribas captured the hearts of the MMA community in 2020 after defeating Paige VanZant with a first round armbar at UFC 251.
Now known for her bubbly personality, Ribas is a legitimate title threat at flyweight. The Brazilian is 10-1 with 7 finishes, and has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well as Judo.
Her father, Marcelo Ribas, is a jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and judo instructor. Because of this, Ribas has been training martial arts for a majority of her life.
“I was born on the mat. It was for me. There was a time when I stopped doing jiu-jitsu to dance. My father wanted to die,” Ribas told FloCombat.