One of the most popular fighters in the world of WMMA is no doubt RIZIN and ROAD FC heavyweight star, Gabi Garcia.
Love her or hate her, fans always tune in and the super-athlete’s fights are always a huge talking point on social media. There’s no other fighter quite like the Brazilian, standing at 6″2 and weighing in at 235-pounds of solid muscle. This multiple-time BJJ world champion, as well as training partner and best friend of UFC superstar, Cris Cyborg, is perhaps the most physically powerful woman in MMA history. Since making her professional debut in 2015, Garcia has remained undefeated with a 5-0 record, finishing the likes of Lei’D Tapa, Anna Maliukova and Destanie Yarbrough.
The 32-year-old was last in action this past May, making her ROAD FC debut at the organization’s 47th event and subsequently earning the first-round submission win over Russian light heavyweight, Veronika Futina.
The quantity of talent competing in Garcia’s division is sparse, however WMMA Rankings looks at some emerging contenders competing at 170lbs and above (welterweight+).
Audrey Puello – 3-0-0
Also known as the “La Demoledora”, Puello fights out of the Team Mordan in the Republica Dominica. Since making her professional debut last year, Puello has been fighting exclusively for the Caribbean Fighting Championships. She’s remained undefeated, earning herself a 3-0 professional record, all first round-stoppages (two submissions and one knockout). She moved down from middleweight to welterweight for her most recent showing earlier this month against Yaremith Weffer. As well as competing in MMA, Puello has been competing in Judo as early as 2004 and has won gold at numerous international tournaments.
Barbara Nepomuceno – 0-0-0
This Brazilian is a multiple-time WGP 185-pound kickboxing world champion. The 28-year-old trains at Team Big G with highly acclaimed head coach, Augusto Nasser. In 2015 she came second in the Kickboxing World Championships, with the 6″5ft heavyweight competitor, Katya Kavaleva, taking first place. Nepomuceno has made it known for quite sometime that she would like to someday fight Gabi Garcia in MMA. Earlier this year she signed with ROAD FC, the same organization which Gabi Garcia most recently competed for, Nepomuceno is slated to make her professional MMA debut with the company in the near future.
Kristine Ion-Rood – 1-0-0
Ion-Rood made her professional debut this past March as a welterweight, earning herself the verbal submission win over Imari Claude. Much like UFC star Marion Reneau, 47-year-old Ion-Rood is a firm believer of “age is just a number” and is constantly proving in inside the cage. Prior to her recent professional debut, Ion-Rood was enjoying success in the amateur circuit and in her final showing before turning professional, picked up a 19-second submission win over her opponent. The boxer from Iowa has picked up the grappling aspect of MMA very fast and is confident she will continue to have the same success as a professional.
Kola Shippentower – 1-1-0
After an unsuccessful professional debut in 2016, Shippentower returned to competition this past June and picked up the first-round knockout win over Tracy Smith in a welterweight contest. The 28-year-old is no stranger to finishing fights, having done so multiple times as an amateur. Shippentower has made it publicly known that she was not happy cutting down to 155-pounds to compete at lightweight in her professional debut, she feels as though the big weight-cut severely effected her performance inside the cage. Now competing at 170-pounds, Shippentower feels ready to show the world what she is truly capable of and believes she will be the woman to put the women’s welterweight division on the map. Shippentower credits Cris Cyborg as the reason she decided to get into mixed martial arts and in 2016 opened up about how having the Brazilian as a role model has helped her to deal with haters.
Fight fans, who would you like to see Gabi Garcia take on next? Let us know in the comments section below.