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Fierce Female Fighters to Keep Your Eye On

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    Ronda Rousey

    Ronda Rousey may be a bit of a no-brainer—after all, she has taken the world by storm as a champion UFC fighter, body-positive influence, and all-around badass woman. She's graced Sports Illustrated not once but twice wearing nothing but body paint, and stood up to social media haters in a Photoshop debacle. (Here are 15 other times she totally inspired us to kick some ass.)

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    Holly Holm

    Ronda may be, arguably, the best-known UFC fighter, but Holly Holm did beat her in an upset in November 2015. As a professional mixed martial arts fighter, boxer, and kickboxer, this girl is a fighting machine.

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    Paige VanZant

    This season, 22-year-old MMA fighter Paige VanZant swapped the ring for the stage in Dancing with the Stars. At just 5 feet 4 inches and 115 pounds, she competes in the strawweight division in the ring, but holds her own on the dance floor as well. (This kickboxing-dance-strength workout is a perfect mashup to train just like Paige.)

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    Felice Herrig

    Felice Herrig, aka "Lil Bulldog" is trained in kickboxing, Muay Thai, and mixed martial arts, but told FOX Sports that her biggest fight was with anxiety and depression. She's currently battling opponents like Paige VanZant in the strawweight dvision of UFC, although she's only been with the organization since 2014. (Give this kickboxing workout a try to get Herrig's skills.)

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    Miesha Tate

    Miesha Tate—the current UFC champion in the bantamweight division—was contemplating retirement in fall 2015. When Holm beat Rousey, it was a wake-up call that her fighting days weren't over. She got back in the ring, powered through her fight with Holm, and (for now) reigns supreme. Keep an eye on her MMA career's second wind.

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    Cat Zingano

    Alpha Cat Zingano started wrestling at just 12 years old, and continued through college, winning All-American and National Champion titles. Later, she competed internationally as a member of Team USA. In 2007, she started Brazilian jiu-jitsu and won international titles in that discipline. Today, she takes care of her son and keeps kicking ass in the ring as the #3-ranked pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world.

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    Michelle Waterson

    Michelle Waterson, aka the Karate Hottie, is a full-time mom and professional MMA fighter. With a black belt in karate, she dropped out of college to pursue a career in combat fighting, and hasn't looked back. In 2013, she was named the Invicta FC atomweight champion. (Want to try your hand at martial arts? This dance-fusion workout is the perfect way in.)

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    Carla Esparza

    Carla Esparza is known as the "Cookie Monster" (just check out her Instagram feed, which has its share of treats). She started as a college wrestler, began jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai training, and soon made the natural progression to MMA.

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    Sara McMann

    Sara McMann isn't just a a pro MMA fighter—she's also a former Olympic wrestler. At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, she became the first-ever American woman to win a silver medal in Olympic wrestling. Now she has a daughter, Bella, and continues to fight in the UFC bantamweight class.

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    Jessica Eye

    Jessica Eye, the 29-year-old from Cleveland, puts her last name to good use, earning the nickname "Evil Eye" and coining her catchphrase "Eye Believe" (which appears all over her clothing line E.Y.E.). Currently ranked sixth in the UFC bantamweight class, Jessica is headed with a vengeance toward Ronda, Holly, and Miesha.


Lauren Mazzo

Lauren Mazzo is a digital assistant editor for Shape and Fitness. She's an Ithaca College alumna, a Rochester, NY, native and an NYC transplant.  More →

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