Monday, 13 February 2012

Women's Super Flyweight (125lb) Division - Who's who?

Over the next few weeks, I am going to sort you all out with a veritable who's who of women's MMA.  I am going to take MMA Rising's rankings and give you a run down of who these women are.  This will lead up to a piece about the depth, potential and future of women's MMA.

This tim, I am taking a look at the 125lb division.  This division is slightly messy for a few reasons.  The 115lb and 135lb divisions receive much more attention in the US and Japan, so that many women at 125lb make the decision to go up or down in weight, or to flip flop between divisions.  Aside from that, this division suffers from the age old women's MMA problem of not having one promotion with a sustained division.  That being said, Cage Warriors FC in the UK is making a significant push with the division.  Other than Cage Warriors, you will see these women fight at XFC, Bellator and Freestyle Cage Fighting in the US.

1 - Tara LaRosa (20-2)

Tara LaRosa is the former BodogFight champion at 125lb, until that orgnaisation dissolved.  For the past four or five years she has been fighting for a plethora of small organisations, most recently at Shark Fights.  She is a viscious, well rounded fighter, who finishes a lot of fights.  At the age of 34 and not signed to Bellator which is the American home of the 125lb division, LaRosa will find it hard to keep finding the fights that keep her at the top of the rankings.  Her most recent fight was a against a fast fading Carina Damm.

Take a look at the highlight reel below and you'll see that while her relevance might be fading, she is a fighter to watch if you ever get the chance.

2 - Zoila Gurgel (11-1)

In terms of momentum and relevance, in reality Gurgel represents the top of the division.  Since losing to Miesha Tate in early 2010 and moving down to 115lb, Gurgel has been on a six fight win streak, beating the likes of Megumi Fujii and Jessica Aguilar and winning the Bellator 115lb title.  Her last fight was her first 125lb fight, which she won, against Karina Halinan.  She has a background in Tae Kwon Do background which can be seen in her elusive and diverse striking style.

Gurgel has suffered an ACL injury and been sidelined in recent months, but at 26 years old she is in a great position to make a comeback.  For the sake of this division, I truly hope she chooses to stay at 125lb, although she may want to move back up to 135lb, a division which is more competitive and popular.

3 - Rosie Sexton (12-2)

Rosie Sexton is a British mixed martial artist with an impressive record.  She has only lost to Gina Carano and Zoila Gurgel and has beaten some of the best women in the sport, including Roxanne Modaferri, Tonomi Sunaba and Carina Damm.  Rosie came into martial arts trying out various disciplines and has such is pretty comfortable wherever the fight goes, but grappling is her main focus.

She had runs in Bellator and BodogFight and now fights for Cage Warriors FC, based in the UK.  She has a fight against number 7 ranked Aisling Daly coming up.  Take a look at Rosie's fight with Sally Krumdiack, where she uses her top control to stfile her opponent and land vicious ground and pound.

4 - Cat Zingano (6-0)

Cat Zingano is unbeaten in her pro MMA career and with her latest two wins coming against big named veterans Carina Damm and Takayo Hashi, she is a serious player in the division.  As is the way with this division. she has so far had to find fights at regional shows in the US and like many, has trouble finding the fights to keep herself going.

She is a complete and dangerous fighter with submissions, striking technique and power.  Here you can see her knock out Hashi with a slam and a few punches.

5 - Barb Honchak (5-1)

Barb Hanchak is another up and coming fighter suffering from the lack of a promotion will to build and market a sustained 125lb division.  Her only loss is at the hands of Cat Zingano and she most recently won impressively against Roxanne Modaferri.  She has an impressive grappling game, with an emphasis on control.  With exception of the Modaferri fight, she has struggled to use her dominance to finish.

Here you can see her last amateur bout before turning pro and she lost narrowly to fellow top ten ranked Jessica Eye.

6 - Sheila Gaff (9-4-1)

Sheila Gaff is probably the most exciting fighter on the list so far.  OK, her record is a little patchy and winning is absolutely what counts, but Gaff finishes fights.  In fact, all her career wins have been finishes, including some pretty brutal knockouts.  She is a strong, stocky fights with great power both in terms of strikes and wrestling.  She love to take the fight to the floor and work submissions.

A German, Sheila last fought at Cage Warriors in the UK and this could be the promotion where she finds regular fights.  She is young, powerful and certainly someone with potential to take the division by storm.  She will be part of the four woman tournament that Cage Warriors will hold in 2012 to crown their new 125lb champion, her opponent is yet to be announced.

This video of her demolishing number 7 ranked Aisling Daly tells you what you need to know about Sheila Gaff.

7 - Aisling Daley (13-2)

Aisling Daly is yet another European fighter in the top ten of the division, a fact which speaks to the emphasis on this division in the UK's Cage Warriors Fighting Championship and the relative lack of emphasis on the division in the US and Japan.  Daly is another aggressive, powerful and exciting fighter.  She may not have shown everything she has in the above video, but she certainly has a lot to offer.

She is another young fighter and very busy.  Since losing to Gaff, she won three more fights in 2011, making it four fights in 2011.  She has had one chance in Bellator, losing to Lisa Ellis-Ward, but has grown considerably since then.  Furthermore, the better fighters in this division are fighting in the UK now.

On May 5th, she will fight Rosi Sexton as part of the Cage Warriors 125lb tournament and that will be an awesome fight.

Here you can see Aisling has the heart and endurance to grind out a decision in a grueling and brutal battle.

8 - Sally Krumdiack (9-4)

Sally Krumdiack has fought some of the biggest names in the division, with mixed success.  She is a part time mixed martial artist, also working as a personal trainer.  That, combined with a lack of opportunities in her native USA, has led to her fighting quite seldom in the last few years.  Like most of the women in this division, she has a very mixed style, happy in all areas of a fight.  Although she is a champion of two organisations in the US, I would not be surprised to see Sally's career taper out from here.

Sally Krumdiack, via wmmaroundup
9 - Jessica Eye (5-1)

Jessica Eye is an up and coming American fighter, with her only loss coming at the hands of Aisling Daly.  She has been a professional for around two years and has managed to stay busy so far in her short career.  She has won most her bouts so far by overpowering fighters on the feet and the ground.  She has fought once in Bellator but manages to find fights in smaller organisations.

Skip to the 5 minute mark in this video to see Jessica Eye abtter Ashley Nee.  Try your best to ignore the incredibly patronising commentators though.

Marianna Kheyfets (5-0)

Marianna Kheyfets represents the new breed of powerful, well rounded and dynamic female mixed martial artists.  She gained name recognition in the first of her pro bouts as she choked out Kim Couture.  Since then she has continued to fight mostly in XFC against decent opposition, including recently live on HDNet.  As such, she is beginning to develop a recongisable name.

Her most recent fight was a TKO victory over Heather Clark.  Although the victory was as a result of a doctor's stoppage for an eye swelling shut, Marianna seemed dominant in the stand up.  She is brilliant on the ground but has really sharpened up her  stand up skills as she showed against Clark.  Here you you can see her stealing some of Kim Couture's limelight at XFC 11.

There you have it.  As always, the big problem for this division is the distinct lack of a unified division within one promotion.  Interestlingly, the promotion with the biggest drive and talent pool is not in the US or Japan, but in the UK.  The Cage Warriors FC tournament which begins this May will be exciting and should crown the de facto champion of the division.

As usual, if you disagree with these overviews or if you know someone who ought to be in the list, hit the comment section and share the knowledge.

For a who's who of the women's 115lb division click here
And a who's who of the bantamweight division here


  1. Good list, just want to point out an error in Rosi Sexton's entry: Aisling Daly isn't British.

  2. Bugger, that's a serious oversight isn't it. I'll change it now and hang my head for a little while.