The UFC women’s divisions are at an all time high of excitement due to the number of new additions made in the last several years. Every year, a new wave of women’s contenders floods the UFC which leads to incredible fight of the nights, memorable finishes and of course a new list of contenders who are set on earning a title shot. Today, we will go over four of the top UFC female candidates who will breakout in a big way by the end of 2020.
Bea Malecki: Women’s Bantamweight
Not only is Bea Malecki going to breakout after starting off her UFC campaign 2-0, but she also has a very cool nickname in “Bad News Barbie”. The Stockholm native is currently undefeated in her professional mixed martial arts career with a 4-0 record. She made her debut on June 1, 2019 where she submitted Duda Santana in impressive fashion. Malecki was able to control Santana on the ground before securing a body triangle which led to a perfectly executed rear naked choke in the second round. Malecki officially announced her arrival to the UFC and was eager to follow up her impressive debut with another memorable octagon appearance.
Malecki’s second fight in the UFC took place in March of 2020 where she was able to secure a unanimous decision victory over Veronica Macedo and extend her undefeated winning streak to four. Boasting a 74-inch reach and standing over 5’9, Malecki is one of the most physically imposing UFC women’s bantamweights who is well rounded and has the ability to finish the fight on both the feet and ground. After a successful start to her UFC career and currently holding a #25 ranking according to mma world rankings, look for Malecki to receive a top 20 opponent. My vote? A showdown with Nicco Montano or Jessica Rose-Clark would make sense.
Sabina Mazo: Women’s Flyweight
Do not sleep on Columbia’s Sabina Mazo because by the end of 2020/beginning of 2021 she will be a very well-known name in women’s MMA. After compiling a 6-0 professional mixed martial arts record, Mazo got the call that every fighter hopes to receive by the UFC at some point throughout their career. The KINGS MMA standout made her UFC debut on March 30, 2019 against a very tough and experienced opponent in Maryna Moroz. Despite lacking the experience or resume that Moroz possesses, Mazo was able to hang with Moroz for most of the fight and went on to win a round on two of the three judges’ scorecards. Despite suffering a loss in her UFC debut, the Columbia native was determined to provde she belonged in the UFC and was willing to go to any length to prove it.
Several months later, Mazo was scheduled to face the hard-hitting Shana Dobson on the undercard of UFC 241. She would go on to utterly dominate Dobson and earn a unanimous decision victory with two judges scoring the fight 30-25 and one scoring the contest 30-24. Mazo landed early in round one with a left body kick that noticeably hurt Dobson as she backed away towards the cage. Mazo followed up with an aggressive onslaught of strikes and controlled the remainder of the round as Dobson struggled to recover and survive the round. She continued to dominate round two by continuously backing Dodson up using her long jab and vicious knees along the cage as Dobson struggled to fire off any offense of her own and was in full survival mode. She continued her dominance in the third round and officially earned her first UFC win while making a statement to her fellow flyweights.
In her third bout, Mazo was slated to face another experienced UFC women’s flyweight in JJ Aldrich on the undercard of UFC 246. The two engage in a bloody back and forth brawl which resulted in a split decision victory for Mazo. Both women had their moments and by the end of the round there was an argument for either women to have earned the victory. However, the most significant part of this for Mazo was the fact that she had fought three experienced UFC fighters and was able to compile a 2-1 record. As of January 2020, she has compiled an impressive 8-1 professional record and is currently holding a #18 ranking on MMA world rankings. Look for her to challenge a top 16 opponent such as Molly McCann or Andrea Lee in her next octagon appearance making her one of the most significant breakout candidates of the year!
Montana De La Rosa: UFC Women’s Flyweight
Montana De La Rosa may just be my top pick for a younger fighter who is on the verge of a breakout going into the back half of 2020. After a successful stint on the Ultimate Fighter which garnered her popularity and an eventual UFC contract, De La Rosa made her official UFC debut on December 1, 2017 where she submitted Christina Marks at 2:00 minute of the first round. She followed this up with two more impressive submission wins over Rachael Ostovich and Nadia Kassem before earning herself a high-profile fight with Andrea Lee. Despite losing the fight via unanimous decision, De La Rosa proved her ability to mix it up with the best of the best and returned to the drawing board to further hone her mixed martial arts skills.
The Montana native returned to action in February 2020 where she showed off her much-improved skills by scoring a dominant unanimous decision victory over Mara Romero Borella which resulted in a #11 UFC women’s flyweight ranking the following week. Her young age (25), athletic ability and continuous improvement every time she steps foot in the octagon makes her a dangerous matchup for anyone in the top 10 of the division. De La Rosa is currently averaging 2.22 takedowns per 15 minute and a 1.95 submission average per 15 minutes making her a problem for anyone who chooses to mix it up with her on the ground. Look for De La Rosa to receive a top 10 opponent in the next couple months where she will get her chance to breakout and announce herself as a top 10 flyweight!
Amanda Ribas is a future UFC champion, mark my words. The Brazilian ground ace has lit the UFC on fire since her arrival in June 2019 where she submitted Emily Whitmire in the second round and announced her arrival to the big stage. She followed up her impressive debut with a lopsided unanimous decision win over Randa Markos which resulted two judges scoring the bout 30-25 and the final judge scoring the bout 30-26. Ribas showed her skills both on the feet and ground by pressuring Markos with powerful strikes, landing viscous knees in the clinch and landing multiple takedowns at will. She threatened Markos consistently using the mount and various top positions to further elevate her status as one of the most notable women’s prospects in recent memory.
Ribas’s biggest test came in the form of fellow BJJ ace Mackenzie Dern who at the time had compiled a 7-0 professional record. Ribas used her aggressive and relentless striking to consistently land hard jabs and straight rights that had Dern backing up for the entirety of the bout. She completely halted Dern’s attempts to fire off any form of offense and won yet another dominant decision victory which resulted in a #15 UFC women’s strawweight ranking.
After a perfect start to her UFC career, the Brazilian prospect is averaging less than one significant strike absorbed per minute and a whopping 4.19 takedowns per 15 minutes. Ribas has now been tasked with facing fellow strawweight Paige VanZant at UFC 251 which is scheduled to take place on the mysterious “Fight Island”. VanZant has not fought since January of 2019 and is 2-3 in her last five octagon appearances. Expect Ribas to run through VanZant with ease and earn herself a top 10 opponent sometime second half of 2020.
For more of my articles, click here!
Andrew is a lifelong follower of combat sports. His passion began as a child and has only grown as an adult. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University and a master’s from Texas A & M University. Outside of combat sports, Andrew currently works as a program manager for an aerospace manufacturing company. He has trained Muay Thai for seven years and continues to spar and train on the weekends when time permits.