With the lack of InvictaFC in our lives the first half of the year, it didn’t detour the WMMA community as many promotions picked up the slack in what was been an exciting year so far.
It was the international talent that shined these first six months, especially a push by several Brazil promotions to develop their women’s divisions.
Here are our picks for the half year. We know this will drive a lot of discussion, and really we want it. We saw lack of suggestions and hope this will get people thinking about the half year.
By the way, the half year ended on June 30, so the July 4th weekend bouts are considered “second half”.
Match of the Half Year – Renata Baldan vs. Bruna “Wing” Matos (MMA Super Heroes 3, Brazil)
It was the semi-finals of the MMA Super Heroes strawweight tournament, and a debuting Baldan and faced Matos, who was looking for her first MMA win in a two round affair. Both stepped on the gas pedal straight through two rounds, never letting up on each other. Some decent scrambles happened in round 2, as the match ended. Baldan would take the unanimous decision and would ultimately won the tournament.
Many tout that it’s technique that makes a fight great. Sometimes, though, you just to need enjoy a fight for what it is, a fight. You can watch the match here.
Honorable Mention: Raquel Pennington vs. Jessica Andrade – UFC 171
Pro Fighter (and Bantamweight): Ronda Rousey
Hard not to call the UFC champion the fighter of the half year, although she only had one qualifying match in the span we are discussing. That one fight was a dominant one though and is giving the UFC trouble as they are having a hard time building a case fro a strong contender. We shall see what the next six months hold as Rousey looks to take some time off.
Honorable mention (bantamweight): Holly Holm
Featherweight: Kate Da Silva
Most of the top featherweights have either only had one match this year or none at all, so it was tough to call. Da Silva, however, was able to defeat two opponents in one night in a round robin tournament to become the #1 contender for the Princesses of Pain featherweight title.
Honorable mention - Pannie Kianzad
Flyweight: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
The undefeated Polish sensation went 2-0 this year with her biggest victory coming over veteran Rosi Sexton. The win propelled her into being signed to the UFC, and Jedrzejczyk will be dropping to strawweight in her octagon debut.
Honorable Mention: DeAnna Bennett
Strawweight: Jessica Aguilar
With many of the ranked 115ers dormant due to the TUF 20 wait, the #1 fighter in the division finally got a belt as Aguilar is the World Series of Fighting champion. Gaining the belt in January, Aguilar also successfully defended the belt in what was her first time going 5 rounds. We suspect more contenders will be cultivated as TUF 20 will keep the rest of the division occupied until the fall.
Invicta will also be crowning a new champion, so JAG may have some stiff competition come Awards time.
Honorable mention: Herica Tiburcio
Atomweight: Catherine Costigan
The Irish standout has come back after a three year absence to win three straight. Her latest win was at Cage Warriors was a war with a tough Irene Cabello, with Costigan taking a split decision.
Honorable mention – Seo Hee Ham
Amateur Fighter: Andrea Lee
The words “stop” and “slow down” seems not to be in Lee’s vocabulary as she has fought four times this year in MMA, and that doesn’t include the multiple kickboxing matches in between. Already set to make her XFC and pro debut this fall, she won’t be eligible for Ammy of the Year come awards time, but look for her as a strong contender for Newcomer.
Honorable mention: Jamie Moyle
Knockout: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (Cage Warriors 69)
With one shot, Jedrzejczyk punched her way into the UFC.
The devastating KO to veteran Rosi Sexton not only launched her into the octagon, but also helped Sexton realize she should retire. You can watch the KO here.
Honorable Mention: Michele Angelo over Roberta Marreta (MMA Super Heroes 3) (Video here)
Submission: Milana Dudieva defeats Daria Chibisova (heel hook) (ProFC 53)
There has been very few submissions this year that weren’t armbars or rear naked chokes. Dudieva decided to let go of an armbar and get a heel hook on Chibsova and that decision earned her this honor. Watch the video here.
Honorable mention: Melissa Gasdick def. Rikki Shutsa (north south choke) (Gladiators of the Cage) (video here)
Comeback: Lynn Alvarez
Taking a two year break after back to back losses, Alvarez looked like a whole new fighter as she took on Amber Stautzenberger this past January. Known as a submission specialist, Alvarez has vastly improved her striking and made a quick impact on the 115 scene once again. Deciding to sign with the WSOF instead of trying out for TUF 20, she could well be in line for a long overdue rematch with Jessica Aguilar.
Honorable Mention: Larissa Pacheco comebacks to defeat Liziane Silveira at Jungle Fight 68.
Promotion of the Year: DEEP-JEWELS
Two brilliant cards so far out of the Japanese all female promotion, with a few more to come. They crowned champions at 135 and 115, with an active atomweight division. D-J held 13 women’s matches this year, the most by any promotion.
Honorable mention: MMA Super Heroes
Card of the Year – MMA Super Heroes 3
MMA Super Heroes stuck to their promise and came into the WMMA landscape fast and furious with their strawweight tournament plus two featured bout all in one night. Even though it was a “mixed card”, the women stole the show and had a variety of finishes and exciting matches. They are become a hotbed of untapped talent in the women’s divisions.
Honorable mention: DEEP-JEWELS 4