Women’s MMA is constantly growing and over the last five-years women’s weight divisions from 105-pounds to 145-pounds have been gaining mainstream recognition all over the world thanks to organizations such as the UFC, Bellator MMA and Invicta FC.
However, it doesn’t just end at 145-pounds. There are a number of women who compete at 155-pounds and above, however, due to lack of opportunities, they are not being seen. The 155-pound lightweight division has recently been growing fast, with Sarah Patterson and Jozette Cotton battling for the inaugural women’s lightweight title at Dynasty Combat Sports 37 on September 1. The heavyweight division has also been picking up steam, thanks to the success of RIZIN FF star Gabi Garcia.
Another division which has been forming over the past year is the women’s middleweight division. The weight-class is perfect for women who can’t comfortably make the 170-pound welterweight limit but are too small to fight at heavyweight. WMMA Rankings gives you a rundown on some of the women in the division and the next possible fights to make.
Yoshiko Hirano VS Maura Tynanes
Hirano (2-0) is a professional wrestler turned mixed martial artist. She is notorious for an incident in 2015 when she went off-script during a pro-wrestling fight and battered and bloodied her opponent – Yuka Yasukawa. Following the match, Yasukawa, with a bloody and badly swollen face, was rushed to a Tokyo hospital, where she was diagnosed with fractured cheek, nasal and orbital bones, which would require surgery. The incident received mainstream, negative attention in Japan and became known as Seisan Matchi (“Ghastly Match”). Yasukawa eventually retired from pro-wrestling due to the injuries sustained, with Hirano being banned from the sport. She made her MMA debut this past February, knocking out Sun Yoo Cheon in the very first round. The pair rematched this past June, with Hirano submitting her in the first.
Tynanes (1-0) trains at the Jesus is Lord gym in Hawaii, along with Invicta FC star and TUF 26 cast member, Rachael Ostovich. She made her professional debut this past March for the Alaska FC organization which airs on UFC Fight Pass, choking out Avril Straub in the very first round. Prior to making the move to MMA, Tynanes, who was undefeated as an amateur, already had a background in combat sports, being a former collegiate/freestyle wrestler who placed second at nationals during her first year in college, she is also a black belt division naga championship winner.
Hirano and Tynanes would be an exciting fight featuring the two middleweight pros who have made the most impact this year. Both women have a 100% finish rate in MMA, Hirano would look to use her relentless aggression and punching power to her advantage whilst Tynanes would look to use her years of MMA and wrestling experience to pick up the win.
Barbara Nepomuceno VS Jessica Kruger
Nepomuceno (0-0) is a 185-pound kickboxing world champion who recently announced plans to transition to MMA. The 27-year-old Brazilian trains at Gaia MMA and is the reigning WGP super-middleweight world champion. In 2015 she came second in the Kickboxing World Championships tournament, with the 6″5ft heavyweight competitor, Katya Kavaleva, taking first place.
Jessica Kruger (0-0), also known as “White Delight”, fights out of Utah and is the number-one ranked amateur middleweight fighter in the world. She has been dominating the amateur scene, going 4-0 which includes two knockout victories over Danae Dorn and Tina Tela. The 30-year-old trains at Hidden Valley MMA and takes inspiration in former UFC champion Ronda Rousey, recognising the impact she had in popularising WMMA. As well as fighting, Kruger is a single mom of two young children and is studying in Utah Valley University for her nursing degree.
A fight between Nepomuceno and Kruger would showcase two women who have the skill-set, starpower and marketability to be standout stars of the division. Nepomuceno would look to use her elite striking skills to her advantage, whilst Kruger would want to showcase why she is the better all-round mixed martial artist.
Manuela Kuhse VS Maria Torres
Following several fights at the amateur level, Manuela Kuhse made her professional debut last October, losing out to Jazzy Gabert via second-round TKO at IFO3 Europe. The 28-year-old trains at the Berserkers Team Torgelow in her home country of Germany. She has constantly been working on her MMA game since her professional debut, in particular her jiu-jitsu. Kuhse has been keen to rematch Gabert, but has not been granted one as of yet.
Standing at 5’3ft, Torres is one of the smallest competitors in the middleweight division, however she hasn’t let that affect her performances in the amateur scene, going undefeated and providing some of the most exciting finishes in the division. The 26-year-old, also known as “The Beast”, made her amateur debut in November 2016 knocking out Cheryl Mendoza in just 26 seconds of the very first round. She followed up this past March, this time knocking out the much heavier Jolynn Mendoza in the second-round. Torres is a seasoned boxer who competed in the sport from the age of 11 to 18. After having a son, she decided to take a break from combat sports but has recently returned and believes now is her time. She trains at Columbus MMA and believes she is the best middleweight fighter in the world.
A fight against Manuela Kuhse would be a good one for Maria Torres to test herself out at the professional level of MMA. Torres would once again look to use her heavy hands and boxing experience to her advantage, whilst Kuhse, who trains heavily in jiu-jitsu, would look to test Torres’ entire MMA game.
Fight fans, do you agree with these match-ups? What fights would you like to see next in the women’s middleweight division?