2011 Women's Mixed Martial Arts Awards WinnersVoting for the 2011 Women’s Mixed Martial Arts Awards has concluded and winners have been crowned in over a dozen categories. With a 4-0 record in 2011 and a significant fan following, Olympic medallist turned MMA star “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey has been named 2011 Female Fighter of the Year.

The past twelve months once again featured a number of excellent women’s bouts and voting was very close for 2011 Fight of the Year. That distinction goes to the back-and-forth battle between Patricia Vidonic and Chelsea Colarelli from BlackEye Promotions 5. A list of all award winners is below.


Fight of the Year

Patricia Vidonic vs Chelsea Colarelli – BlackEye Promotions 5 (Watch)

A featured bout on the all-female BlackEye Promotions 5 main card in October, the battle between Vidonic and Colarelli was this year’s top female fight. Vidonic and Colarelli went back and forth with knees and standing elbows in the first round before Vidonic managed to take the fight to the mat. She closed out strong with strikes from the top and wasted no time in taking Colarelli down in round two.

As Vidonic looked to be in control with rear-naked choke and armbar attempts, Colarelli had other plans and reversed into Vidonic’s guard. There, she landed punches of her own until Vidonic used a triangle choke to sweep into mount. With Colarelli in peril again, she scrambled out the back, but this time Vidonic was ready and secured a rear-naked choke to finally enduce a tap.

While the spirited battle was won by Vidonic, who has become one of MMA’s best prospects, Colarelli established herself as a fighter to watch for as well after her game performance in defeat.


Female Fighter of the Year

Ronda Rousey (4-0 in 2011)

To date, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist in judo has won seven mixed martial arts fights and none has lasted longer than 57 seconds. All of Rousey’s wins, including her four pro victories, have come by way of armbar submission and many are already questioning whether any woman in MMA can stop the judoka. Just as noteworthy, Rousey has remained very prominent among MMA and sports media as she continues to try to increase awareness of the sport.

Rousey has arguably had the fastest rise to stardom of any female MMA fighter since former EliteXC star Gina Carano’s journey to fame that began in 2007. Thus far, Rousey’s skills have allowed her to back up her words, but there are no shortage of opponents who would like a shot at the armbar queen next year. Rousey may compete again as soon as March, and her next fight could be for a Strikeforce championship title.


Female Featherweight (145) of the Year

Ronda Rousey (3-0 at 145, 4-0 in 2011)

Despite winning her first two pro fights of the year in a combined time of 74 seconds, Rousey flew largely under the radar until her Strikeforce debut in August. That all changed after she defeated Sarah D’Alelio in 25 seconds; an outcome that sparked debate due to the controversial nature of the finish. There was no controversy when Rousey returned to Strikeforce in November, however, as she used a vicious armbar to dislocate the elbow of talented striker Julia Budd.

Rousey now appears to be the number one contender for the Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Championship, but she has instead set her sights on a different Strikeforce title; that of Miesha Tate at 135 pounds. No matter which weight class she competes at in 2012, Rousey is sure to factor heavily into the title picture as Strikeforce and Zuffa officials take note of her rapidly-growing fan following.


Female Bantamweight (135) of the Year

Alexis Davis (2-0 in 2011)

With Raging Wolf failing to promote a single event in the first half of 2011, its champion, Davis, was forced to sit on the sidelines waiting for other opportunities. She received one in July in the form of a preliminary card bout with veteran Julie Kedzie for Strikeforce. Davis made the most of it with a Unanimous Decision victory, but it was her next Strikeforce fight, an impressive second-round TKO of Amanda Nunes in September, that moved Davis up the ranks and into title contention.

A rematch with fellow Canadian Sarah Kaufman or a shot at the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship could be in Davis’s future in 2012.


Female Super Flyweight (125) of the Year

Barb Honchak (4-0 in 2011)

One of MMA’s more active female fighters, Honchak posted wins in each of her four fights in 2011 and closed out the year with the biggest victory of her career. After three decision wins early in the year, Honchak took five months off before returning to the cage against respected veteran Roxanne Modafferi on October 1st. Honchak completely dominated her more experienced opponent and secured a third-round rear-naked choke submission to cap off an excellent year.


Female Flyweight (115) of the Year

Jessica Aguilar (1-0 at 115, 2-0 in 2011)

Despite a hiccup in missing weight for her second bout of the year, Aguilar’s 2011 campaign was otherwise nearly flawless. After a victory over standout wrestler Carla Esparza for Bellator in June, Aguilar returned to the cage in November to battle rival Lisa Ellis-Ward. Aguilar was able to outstrike her more experienced opponent en route to a Unanimous Decision victory and avenged the first defeat of her pro career in the process.


Female Strawweight (106) of the Year

Naho Sugiyama (4-0 in 2011)

Unbeaten in her MMA career, Sugiyama followed up on a successful 2010 campaign that included a non-title win over Valkyrie champion Yasuko Tamada by finally capturing a belt of her own this year. In the finals of the Jewels Featherweight Queen Grand Prix, Sugiyama defeated two opponents in one night to become the promotion’s 106-pound champion. Her 7-0 record includes four wins over top-three opponents, but many challenges remain for the Japanese standout as her division becomes more and more competitive.


Female Newcomer of the Year

Ronda Rousey

Rousey’s 5-0 overall record in 2011 and her engaging personality – as well as challenges to some of MMA’s top female fighters and champions – have placed her at the forefront of the sport. Never afraid to speak her mind, Rousey caused a shakeup late this year after stating her intentions to change weight classes and challenge for the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship next year.

It’s a plan that has not sit well with champion Miesha Tate, nor top 135-pound contenders Sarah Kaufman and Alexis Davis, but Rousey has undeniably become one of the most talked-about female fighters in mixed martial arts history despite competing as a professional for just six months.


Amateur Female Fighter of the Year

Taylor Stratford (3-1 in 2011)

Currently ranked as one of the top amateur female fighters in the United States, 20-year-old Stratford’s impressive 9-1 amateur record includes title victories in two different promotions in her home state of Nevada. Her lone defeat came in a controversial stoppage against this year’s professional female fighter of the year, Strikeforce star Ronda Rousey, and Stratford has demonstrated a well-rounded skillset that will serve her well when she makes her professional debut in 2012.


Knockout of the Year

Heather Clark def. April Coutino by KO (Punch) at 0:10 of round 1. (Watch)

Ten seconds and one punch were all that Jackson’s MMA prospect Clark needed to dispatch of Coutino in their January bout in New Mexico. To date, all four of Clark’s victories have come by knockout or submission and she could rise from prospect to top-ten contender status with a victory in her next fight; a televised bout against Marianna Kheyfets for XFC in February.


Submission of the Year

Miesha Tate def. Marloes Coenen by Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) at 3:03 of round 4. (Watch)

In a competitive Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship bout in July, Tate became the first woman to ever submit Coenen in over ten years of competition. The win earned Tate the title and immediately set off a chain of events that led to Coenen’s release from Strikeforce and a number of potential challengers lining up for a shot at Tate’s belt.


Promotion of the Year


As the most notable all-female promotion in mixed martial arts, Japan’s Jewels organisation made a number of changes and improvements in 2011 and showcased a total of five fight cards despite the loss of its planned “12th Ring” event due to the massive earthquake off the coast of Japan in March. Jewels crowned its second champion, Naho Sugiyama, this year, while Ayaka Hamasaki retained her title by defeating Seo Hee Ham for the second time.

Jewels continues to shine a spotlight on young talent including teen prospects Shino VanHoose and Mizuki Inoue, as well as Inoue’s teammate Yukari Yamaguchi. By developing new stars, putting together quality matchups and listening to fan input when making decisions, Jewels appears to have a bright future despite the dwindling interest in MMA in Japan.


Sponsor of the Year

Fight Chix and Tussle Fight Gear (Tie)

Two of the most prominent sponsors for female fighters in mixed martial arts, both Fight Chix and Tussle Fight Gear had a significant impact on the sport this year with continued support of many of MMA’s best-known female fighters, as well as those just beginning their careers. With relatively limited opportunities, many female fighters receive only small fight purses when competing on untelevised cards, and the support of sponsors like Fight Chix and Tussle Fight Gear assists in providing equipment and/or funding to allow fighters to continue to pursue their goals and dreams in MMA.


Headline of the Year

Zuffa Purchases Rival Strikeforce

It was a headline that shocked the mixed martial arts world. On March 12th, news broke that a subsidiary of Ultimate Fighting Championship parent company Zuffa, LLC had acquired top rival Strikeforce. Questions arose as to whether the Strikeforce 135- and 145-pound women’s divisions would be retained, given the UFC’s past decision not to promote female fights. The divisions indeed lived on and have even flourished at times.

With roster additions of Ronda Rousey, Alexis Davis and others in 2011, past and present Strikeforce champions Sarah Kaufman, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and Miesha Tate have received new challenges for the coming year; a year which will prove to be pivotal in determining the course of female mixed martial arts fights at a high level in North America.


Fan Vote: 2011 Favourite Female Fighter


Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos: 330 Votes (27%)
– “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey: 202 Votes (17%)
– Alexis Davis: 141 Votes (12%)
– Miesha “Takedown” Tate: 125 Votes (10%)
– Marloes “Rumina” Coenen: 84 Votes (7%)
– Roxanne “The Happy Warrior” Modafferi: 82 Votes (7%)
– Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii: 80 Votes (7%)
– Jessica “Jag” Aguilar: 77 Votes (6%)
– Sara McMann: 54 Votes (4%)
– Sarah Kaufman: 40 Votes (3%)


“Mighty” Mia Hayes Inspirational Female Fighter of the Year

Sara McMann

Named in honour of courageous amateur fighter “Mighty” Mia Hayes, who lost her lengthy battle with cancer this year, this award recognises a fighter who has provided inspiration to others by persevering through adversity. McMann, a 2004 Olympic silver medallist in women’s freestyle wrestling, has overcome numerous obstacles both before and during her time in mixed martial arts. McMann’s brother, Jason, was murdered in 1999 and she later suffered the loss of her then-fiancé, Steven Blackford, in an automobile accident.

McMann made the move to MMA in 2010, but encountered roadblocks almost immediately. As her opponents backed out of fights and a number of planned bouts were scrapped, McMann struggled to get any cage time in order to develop and improve her skills. She fought on and managed to secure four professional fights in less than three months, winning all of them. McMann continues to prove that success can be achieved through adversity and she will face another tough and experienced opponent, Hitomi Akano, in her next fight on January 21, 2012.


  1. Davis is a shocker.
    Congrats to the winners.

  2. cyborg fought for like 12 seconds this year lol

  3. I have coenen come from behind triangle over the arm triangle. but miesha submitting marloes was crazy too. alexis davis is cuteeeeeee

  4. […] and former XFL champion Chelsea “The Italian Princess” Colarelli; the latter earning Women’s Fight of the Year honours. Vidonic will face her toughest test to date in the bout with Aguilar, but a victory would […]