This is absolutely my favorite award to give out and that is not because I have a secret crush on any of these killers. I think the fight game is so much harder on them for a lot of reasons.
For one, they have a menstrual cycle once a month that makes their bodies retain water. The hormones are the trump cards for your body. What they say goes and I’m sure you can imagine where I’m going with this.
There are so many more roadblocks in their way. There is a population of men out there that don’t like to see women fight. I will take the high road here and stay out of their heads for once and just say to each their own.
I’m not a fan of watching professional women’s basketball so it is what it is.
There is also the thing with having children. When does the stereotypical biological clock start ticking? Around 28 or 29 and that is when a woman is entering her prime in prizefighting. I’m not saying all of these things are true for all the ladies or lady fighters out there.
I more so want to highlight the fact that more often than not, they have a more difficult journey in the fight game than a lot of the men. Women’s MMA was overall less skillful than the men’s size and that was mainly because women’s MMA was still in its infancy while the men were already potty training. Guys, if you think fighting is cool now, wait until you see it in 10 years, 20 years, or even 100. One thing I saw a lot more of in 2020 was stand-ups from the bottom. You see the pendulum shift one way and then we swing back and get just a little closer to the truth. Then it changes again and that is one of the many beauties of fighting. Over the years, women’s MMA has evolved from a select few original gangsters fighting around the globe just to get a paycheck to where it is now. There was Gina Carano and she passed the torch to Cyborg who then never fought Ronda, of course, but Rousey sure got to run with that flame for a while.
She really changed the game and was the reason women’s mixed martial arts even got started inside the Octagon. After Rowdy burned out as quickly as she caught fire, Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes have set themselves apart as the two best female mixed martial artists of all time, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, we can’t give either of these two the award for female fighter of the year because they weren’t very active and not against the highest level of opponent.
Look to bet against the less physical women this year because there will be fewer and fewer of these opportunities in the future and a higher level of athlete and mastery will dominate the landscape.
Let’s look back at the best female fighters of 2020 and also quickly preview their 2021 from a betting perspective.
What can we say about Weili? I almost included her name with Valentina and Amanda Nunes a moment ago but I don’t think she has the quantity of championship level wins to be included with those two, yet.
I know Joanna is as tough as they come and dished out just as much as she received in that fight but I still have no clue on earth how she wasn’t knocked out in that fight.
Zhang hit her with everything! That fight was just her first title defense, though, and her only fight of 2020. For that reason, I don’t think we can give her the strap for fighter of the year. I wanted to put Joanna up here too and she was 0-1 for 2020.
That’s how good that fight was. It was our Fight of the Year.
Weili is set to face off against Carla Esparza next or at least that is what we have heard from Dana White. I don’t think anything is in stone.
We will move on from Weili now and chat about a fighter you may not have heard about, yet.
If you don’t know about Kayla Harrison, you will soon. She is a legit threat to the UFC Featherweight Division and I’m not just talking about the women’s side. I’m kidding, kind of.
- Kayla has 3 world championship gold medals in Judo.
- Several Pan American golds.
- As well as 2 more gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
She has been training at American Top Team. Of course, right? Iron sharpening iron once again in South Florida.
Now 8-0 as a professional and coming off of her Featherweight debut in Invicta where she scored a 2nd round TKO, Kayla is poised for a huge 2021.
What was so impressive to me is how she made the weight. She competed up at 76 kilos to win her Judo gold and had been at Lightweight in the PFL. 76 kilos is 171 pounds. With just one fight in 2020, we can’t give her the gold today but she has enough already.
Watch out for Kayla Harrison in 2021 and she will be a solid parlay piece moving forward.
I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about Valentina Shevchenko but she is a special athlete and fighter. Every year, you think mauve she is going to slow down somehow but it never freaking happens.
She dropped one round out of 5 to Jennifer Maia and everybody lost their spit.
Not everyone remembers it, but Bullet had a fight with Katlyn Chookagian back in February of 2020. Those were the days, huh? Okay, I’ll stop.
I remember this one because we took Valentina to win by stoppage and she did it! The odds were really good as well. I think it was 3 to 1. This was a very impressive win considering Katlyn Chookagian was 13-2 at the time with both of her losses coming by way of split decision.
Chookagian later got her revenge sort of against Valentina’s sister Antonina when she showed she has some takedown abilities as well. Antonina has since looked great so it wasn’t like she was too old or not highly skilled.
Katlyn is good.
There really isn’t anyone that is likely to threaten her in the women’s flyweight division in 2021. Bullet is so dominant and has beaten pretty much all of the contenders that she makes the division look like one of the weakest in the UFC.
Maybe it is but Shevchenko got in two fights this year and won both convincingly. Those two fights were still championship level and we haven’t talked about a lady that can top that yet today.
Maybe we do have Valentina as the winner again.
It is never really pretty with Mackenzie Dern. I’m not at all referring to her smile or some of her pictures on IG but it is her fights that never seem to be clean. The wins just keep coming, though, and her only loss was to Amanda Ribas who safely defended the takedown attempts with her Judo black belt.
The level of her competition was low at the beginning of the year but then it got steadily better by the close of the calendar when she out-pointed fellow BJJ ace Virna Jandiroba. We took Mack in that fight to win by decision for a payout of (+300).
She was the favorite to win the fight and Virna has great BJJ. Their wrestling kinda matched up and neither is an uber striker. I thought it had great value. It was a very close fight so it wasn’t a slam dunk but for 3 to 1, I felt great about finding that one.
Mackenzie submitted her other two opponents, Amanda Cifers and Randa Markos when they decided to play with her on the ground. Silly wabbits. Mom said don’t touch the stove. What do you do?
Dern going 3-0 this year really raised her stock and to beat a surging talent like Virna Jandiroba in a fight many experts were picking against her was huge for not only her record, ranking, and wallet but also her confidence moving forward.
We don’t know who her next opponent will be but I might be thinking fade, actually. She had a great year but she still has limitations with her lack of takedown ability.
Germaine de Randamie
Germaine! You beat me this year! We won big on her when she put out Aspen Ladd and also we had her to beat Holly Holm.
When I saw Juliana Pena was (+150) against her, I had to jump on it. De Randamie made me pay for that one.
She shocked the MMA world with her guillotine finish of Pena in the third round. Pena was very rusty in the first like most had imagined she would be coming off of a long layoff like she did and G took that one.
Pena came back and won the second, though, scoring a takedown and controlling on top. Going into the third round, the live line had Juliana at (-150) so my pre bet was looking good. She shoots in but is stuffed and when she tries to force the takedown, that’s when Germaine got her neck and that was a wrap.
I was shocked as much as anyone else. I don’t know what the prop for de Randamie by submission was going into this fight but I’m guessing it paid probably 13 to 1 or something like that.
This fight was de Randamie’s one and only fight of 2020 but it was such a great win for her. It puts something in the back of the head of every single girl she fights from here on out. You can shoot on me but the threat of the choke is there.
That is almost better than having the element of surprise in her back pocket like she did against Juliana. That won her one fight. With her future opponents have to hesitate even ever so slightly when they go to shoot for a takedown will not only work against their wrestling but it will get them busted up in the striking department as well.
If you guys know me, you already know where I’m going with this one. Give me G by decision.
This woman is quietly going to continue to climb that ladder in the women’s flyweight division. Taila Santos took down both Molly McCann and Gillian Robertson to defeat both women and go 2-0 for the year.
What is impressive here is that both of those women are the ones who like to be the hammer on top and they each ended up the nail against Taila who won both fights very convincingly. She was the underdog in both of those, by the way.
We went with her to defeat McCann but I thought Gil would get her when they fought recently. That is one of those fights where I was dead wrong. I hate it but at least it was a clean wound. Those heal easier I think.
I’m not questioning anything in my debrief. Taila was more physical than Gillian who played a physical style. When someone can beat you at your best game, it usually spells trouble more often than not for you. I don’t know who she will be fighting next but I have her back.
Taila also has solid striking to fall back on if her top control game isn’t there.
Women’s Fighter of the Year
Man, I really wanted to give this one to Mackenzie Dern. She went 3-0 and defeating Virna Jandiroba was a big one!
Randa Markos is almost always a tough out but she hasn’t been the same fighter for the past couple of years and Hannah Cifers isn’t UFC caliber.
Weili won what I call the greatest fight of all time.
It was certainly the most closely contested greatest fight of all time. What else was closer?
I hope to see Weili fight a few times this year and if she does fight Carla Esparza next, be on the lookout for the opening betting line on that one. It will be our only chance at getting Weili with any kind of value.
She is just too physical for Carla.
Those are your lady killers or killer ladies, I should say, of 2020. None of them are going anywhere either in 2021. I expect to see gritty fights from all of these ladies this year.
Valentina gets tired of schooling girls at 125 pounds so she makes the trip back to her old weight class at 35 and fights Germaine de Randamie. That is one I would love to see.
I would still give the edge to Shevchenko because of her wrestling. She tapped Juliana Pena and G tapped her so BJJ/MMA math…
You can never count on it but it is worth a note from time to time.
Kayla Harrison could get to the UFC and fight Amanda Nunes. They would definitely sell the fight hard so some money would come in on Harrison but I still think Amanda’s name value would have her overvalued.
Kayla can get anyone down so she is surely a threat to the strap should she get to the UFC.
Weili was just too awesome in 2020, though, winning the best fight of all time!