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Top 5: Greatest women's title finishes

When the UFC makes its debut in Melbourne, Australia next month, it will be a pair of the organization’s top finishers that close out the card and bring droves of diehard fans to Etihad Stadium.

Those two stoppage specialists are the UFC’s two female champions, Ronda Rousey and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who defend their titles against Holly Holm and Valerie Letourneau, respectively.

With the countdown to UFC 193 already underway, here’s a look at some of the handiwork of the two fighters that will stand in the red corner on Saturday, November 14.

These are the top five finishes in women’s championship fights inside the Octagon.
 
5. UFC Berlin: Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Jessica Penne by TKO (Punches) at 4:22 of Round 3

Just three month after winning the title in impressive fashion against Esparza in Dallas, Jedrzejczyk was tasked with proving her performance wasn’t a fluke in a matchup against Jessica Penne in the main event of the promotion’s return to Berlin.

Jedrzejczyk’s first title defense was an even more impressive effort than her championship-winning one, as she started picking apart Penne from the beginning and spent the next two-plus rounds styling on the challenger into the final minute of the third round when it was mercifully stopped.

Penne showed incredible toughness, taking everything Jedrzejczyk had to offer and never hitting the canvas or throwing in the towel, but the real takeaway from the June 20 championship clash in Germany was how precise and devastating Jedrzejczyk’s striking can be and her potential to rule this division for the foreseeable future.

4. UFC 185: Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Carla Esparza by TKO (Punches) at 4:17 of Round 2

Carla Esparza walked into Dallas as the inaugural UFC strawweight champion, having navigated her way through Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter and beaten Rose Namajunas to claim the title in December. She was the recognizable name in the co-main event pairing, especially considering that no one was quite certain how to properly pronounce the challenger’s last name.

In the days leading up to the fight, Joanna Jedrzejczyk joked that reporters and fans didn’t need to learn how to say her last name, telling everyone that after the fight, they’d be able to simply call her “Joanna Champion,” because she was going to unseat Esparza and become the first European champion since Andrei Arlovski wore heavyweight gold.

Then she walked into the Octagon and put it on Esparza, stuffing takedowns from Jump Street and making the Team Oyama product pay for every failed attempt. Before the first round ended, it was evident that a new champion was going to be crowned, as Jedrzejczyk shut down Esparza at every turn and picked her apart at range.

Late in the second, with Jedrzejczyk picking her shots and landing at will against a battered and beaten Esparza, the fight was stopped, a new champion was crowned and the rise of Joanna Jedrzejczyk officially began.

3. UFC 175: Ronda Rousey def. Alexis Davis – TKO (Punches) at 0:16 of Round 1

Rousey was a star even before she arrived in the UFC and her first three performances solidified her standing as a dominant champion, but this was the bout that began a run of success that made people beyond the MMA bubble stand up and take notice of the elite competitor kicking ass and taking names inside the Octagon.

Davis is a consummate pro – a veteran of 21 fights heading into her UFC 175 matchup with Rousey who had won five straight overall, including all three of her prior bouts under the UFC banner. While she entered as an underdog like all of Rousey’s previous (and future) opponents, the battle-tested Canadian was expected to give the champion a reasonable challenge on July 5, 2014.

She lasted just 16 seconds.

Rousey connected with a right hand that rocked Davis as the two stepped in to throw. Instinctually, the champion catapulted Davis to the canvas with a high impact hip toss, unleashing a torrent of unanswered blows as the two crashed to the mat, forcing referee Yves Lavigne to step in and stop the bout before having to defend a desperation single leg attempt from the dazed challenger.

The sequence went viral and Rousey’s star began to reach new heights.

2. UFC 184: Ronda Rousey def. Cat Zingano by Submission (Armbar) at 0:14 of Round 1

How do you follow up a 16-second championship victory? You shave two seconds off the time and showcase your insane ability to adjust on the fly and find a finish, that’s how.

Seven months after Rousey steamrolled Alexis Davis, she once again faced off with an undefeated challenger, finally stepping into the Octagon with Cat Zingano at UFC 184. The two were scheduled to coach against one another on Season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter before facing off for Rousey’s title more than a year earlier, but a blown ACL put Zingano on the shelf and Miesha Tate in the challenger’s role.

After a tumultuous year that included a second knee injury and a personal tragedy, Zingano returned at UFC 178, battling through a bad first round to earn a third-round stoppage win over Amanda Nunes and secure her long-awaited chance to challenge for the title.

Having heard all the talk about her slow starts, “Alpha Cat” opted to change things up against Rousey, rushing across the cage with a flying knee as the fight began, but the champion avoided the attempt and started improvising, taking Zingano to the mat and finding an armbar amidst the tangle of limbs, forcing the challenger to tap just 14 seconds into the contest.

It was a creative finish that demonstrated Rousey’s next-level ability to adjust on the fly and was another addition to her viral catalogue.

1. UFC 190: Ronda Rousey def. Bethe Correia by KO (Punch) at 0:34 of Round 1

Heading into this heated grudge match between unbeaten competitors, the conventional thinking was that Correia’s best chance to pull off the upset would be to make things ugly – to force Rousey into striking exchanges by fending off takedowns and roughing her up as the champion looked for the clinch.

As it turned out, Rousey was happy to throw hands, trading shots with the Brazilian challenger right out of the gate. After denying a takedown, Correia stumbled backwards and ended up along the fence. Rather than trying to bring the fight to the canvas, Rousey opted instead to continue showcasing her improving striking.

A right hand stiffened Correia’s knees. A knee to the midsection made her wince and backpedal. A clean right hand to the temple turned out the lights and brought the fight to a close, giving Rousey her sixth successful title defense and 12th consecutive victory.

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