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On a Rizin
Fighting Federation 18
card where one of the year’s biggest
upsets occurred, it was another night at the office for atomweight
queen Ayaka
Hamasaki
.

Hamasaki battled through some adversity in her co-headlining bout
against Suwanan
Boonsorn
, as her opponent took her back and mounted her early
on in the initial stanza. Eventually, though, Hamasaki asserted her
will and locked in an armbar to elicit a tapout at the 3:20 mark of
Round 1, assuring that she would not share a fate with Kyoji
Horiguchi
, who suffered a shocking KO loss in the evening’s
headliner. That makes five consecutive victories for Hamasaki since
moving down from strawweight, and she holds steady as the No. 9
pound-for-pound female fighter in the world as a result.
Nunes continued to make her case as the female “GOAT” at UFC 239,
where she patiently waited for an opening before dispatching Holly
Holm with a head kick and follow-up punches 4:10 into the opening
stanza of their co-main event encounter at the T-Mobile Arena in
Las Vegas. That makes nine consecutive victories for “Lioness,”
including six in title bouts. With a resume that also includes wins
over the likes of Cristiane Justino, Valentina Shevchenko (twice),
Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Germaine de Randamie, the next task
is simply finding a suitable challenge for the two-division
champion. After Justino parted ways with the UFC, Nunes was booked
against de Randamie in a bantamweight title tilt at UFC 245 on Dec.
14.
It was far from enthralling, but Shevchenko was in completely
control throughout her title defense against Liz Carmouche in the
UFC Uruguay headliner. Even though her volume was lacking, a
technical “Bullet” floored her opponent twice and did well in
grappling exchanges with the physical Carmouche. The end result was
a sweep of the scorecards and the fourth consecutive 125-pound
victory for the reigning champion. The 31-year-old Tiger Muay Thai
representative now owns victories over Carmouche, Jessica Eye and
Joanna Jedrzejczyk in title bouts and continues to look like one of
the most dominant champions in any UFC division..
Andrade battled through adversity to claim strawweight gold at UFC
237. The Brazilian was confounded by Rose
Namajunas
in the early going of their main even bout in Rio de
Janeiro, as “Bate Estaca” was bloodied and dropped by her opponent.
Once Andrade was better able to close the distance, however, things
changed, and she became the promotion’s fourth 115-pound queen
after knocking Namajunas unconscious with a slam in the second
stanza. In a somewhat surprising twist, Andrade’s first title
defense will come against Weili Zhang
in China on Aug. 31.
It was only natural to wonder how “Cyborg” would fare coming off
her first defeat in more than 13 years, but the heavy-handed
Brazilian bounced back nicely at UFC 240, earning a unanimous
decision victory against Felicia Spencer in the evening’s co-main
event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on July 27. It was the last
fight on Justino’s UFC deal, and shortly thereafter promotion head
Dana White confirmed that he was “out of the Cyborg business,”
clearing the way for the ex-champ to join another organization.
Regardless, Justino re-established herself as the clear No. 2
featherweight in the world.
Namajunas looked sharp in her second title defense at UFC 237. That
is, until challenger Jessica
Andrade
knocked her unconscious with a slam 2:58 into the
second round of their headlining bout in Rio de Janeiro. Namajunas’
reaction after the defeat was one of relief, and it seems as though
the 26-year-old could be leaning toward an early retirement. If she
does decide to stick around, “Thug” Rose has shown a propensity to
make great strides from bout to bout, and that includes UFC 237,
where she battered, bloodied and dropped Andrade on the feet. Given
a little more time to clear her head, it’s possible that Namajunas’
perspective could change, but don’t expect a quick turnaround
either way.
Once regarded as the top female pound-for-pound talent in the
sport, Jedrzejczyk now finds herself looking up at the top of two
separate divisions following a loss to Valentina
Shevchenko
for the vacant flyweight strap at UFC 231. While the
31-year-old Poland native showed no quit in the bout, she simply
had no clear answers for her opponent over the course of the
25-minute affair. Jedrzejczyk will return to 115 pounds for her
next Octagon appearance when she faces Michelle
Waterson
at UFC Fight Night in Tampa on Oct. 12.
De Randamie made a great case to be the bantamweight No. 1
contender at UFC Sacramento, where she starched the previously
unbeaten Aspen Ladd in just 16 seconds in the evening’s headliner.
That makes five consecutive victories for the Dutch kickboxer, a
streak that also includes wins over Raquel Pennington and Holly
Holm. With Cristiane Justino out of the picture, “The Iron Lady”
will get a chance to avenge a previous loss to Amanda Nunes when
they square off for 135-pound gold at UFC 245.
Budd continued to display her newfound penchant for finishing
fights at Bellator 224, as she wiped out the previously unbeaten
Olga
Rubin
at the 2:14 mark of Round 1 in the evening’s headliner in
Thackerville, Okla., on June 12. The 36-year-old “Jewel” extended
her winning streak to 11 with the fastest stoppage of her career
and has now finished three of her last four foes under the Bellator
banner. Budd has already targeted matchups with recent signee
Leslie
Smith
or Rizin powerhouse Gabi Garcia
in a potential cross-promotional duel.
Hamasaki’s latest outing at Rizin 18 wasn’t without some
difficulties. The atomweight queen had her back taken and was
mounted by Suwanan Boonsorn in the early going, but the 37-year-old
Tokyo native rallied submit her adversary with an armbar at the
3:20 mark of the opening frame. That makes five consecutive
victories for Hamasaki – including a cross-promotional title
defense against Invicta champ Jinh Yu Frey – since she lost to
Livinha Souza via first-round knockout in a strawweight contest at
Invicta FC 22.
Suarez may still very well be a future champion, but she showed
some flaws in a victory over Nina
Ansaroff
at UFC 238. The American used her wrestling to bank
two rounds on the judges scorecards, but faded in the third round.
Perhaps even more concerning was Ansaroff’s ability to land offense
in the final stanza. Nonetheless, Suarez captured a unanimous
decision for her fifth consecutive triumph within the Las
Vegas-based promotion. The Milennia MMA product doesn’t feel as
though she needs more seasoning: After the victory, she called out
reigning 115-pound queen Jessica
Andrade
.

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Sherdog’s divisional and pound-for-pound rankings are
compiled by a panel of Sherdog.com staff members and contributors:
Tristen Critchfield, Mike Fridley, Brian Knapp, Eric Stinton, Ben
Duffy, Jay Pettry, Jacob Debets, Keith Shillan, Edward Carbajal,
Jason Burgos, Guy Portman, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Cole
Shelton, Abhinav Kini, Mike Sloan, Tom Feely and Tyler Treese.

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