WAMMA today released the organization's inaugural female rankings, and top fighters Gina Carano (7-0), Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos (6-1), Tara LaRosa (16-1) and Megumi Fuji (16-0) have been officially recognized as the world's No. 1-ranked women combatants.
WAMMA's initial efforts include top-10 rankings in the bantamweight (115.1-125 pounds), super bantamweight (125.1-135 pounds), and featherweight (135.1-145 pounds) weight classes.
Carano and Santos were announced as the co-No. 1 fighters of the featherweight division in the release from WAMMA.
"Female MMA has experienced tremendous growth in recent years but many of the sport's top women athletes are still being overlooked," stated WAMMA Rankings Committee Chair Sam Caplan. "With these rankings, WAMMA hopes to help bring greater awareness to the depth that exists in female MMA. We also hope that these rankings are used to create championships in multiple weight classes, which will in turn create bigger opportunities for female fighters."
Long considered among the world's best, LaRosa was awarded the No. 1 spot in the super bantamweight division, while Japanese star Fuji was voted as the top-ranked woman at bantamweight.
While WAMMA currently recognizes Fedor Emelianenko and Shinya Aoki as its heavyweight and lightweight champions, respectively, on the men's side of the sport, the organization's lack of commitment from the UFC has lead to widespread questioning of the legitimacy of both the rankings and the belt.
WAMMA should not immediately face the same dilemma in the women's rankings, and WAMMA CEO Michael Lynch pointed to the shared No. 1 ranking by Carano and Santos as a clear-cut opportunity for the group to award its first female world title.
"I had a strong feeling that Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg would be ranked in the top two spots in the 145-pound weight class in WAMMA's debut rankings," Lynch stated. "However, I was very surprised to see that WAMMA's pollsters were collectively torn when it came time to determine a No. 1-ranked fighter. I think it goes without saying that female MMA would gain a tremendous boost if a match was signed to determine the clear cut number one female featherweight fighter in the world."
Santos will next compete for Strikeforce against WAMMA's No. 7-ranked super bantamweight Hitomi Akano. Carano is rumored to be fighting for the organization in May, and the two have been linked together for a possible showdown in late summer or fall 2009.
The full rankings are currently posted on WAMMA's official website. The committee will update the rankings on a monthly basis.