UFC: Three female fighters on Sports Illustrated fittest 50 list

The women’s edition of the Sports Illustrated fittest 50 list recognizes three of the UFC’s current athletes who have all experienced their fair share of success in their duty as fighters.

UFC standouts Holly Holm, Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Karolina Kowalkiewicz are being celebrated for their gains and glory.

The woman often referred to as, “Cyborg” has been machine-like in her dominance inside of the cage. The No. 26th ranked SI fittest female athlete, Justino is currently riding a 12-year streak without defeat and has her sights set on Holly Holm next.

Then again, Justino was granted a California boxing license earlier this month.  The expectation is for her to compete at 154 lbs. “Cyborg’s” UFC contract is set to expire next month so there is no telling what is next for her.  Her inclusion in SI’s celebrated list could only help her during contract negotiations.

The Sports Illustrated list was compiled by specialists in a number of areas in the world of sports and fitness. The respective athletes were graded as follows (per the list).

Athletes were considered based on performances in the last 12 months, demands and risks of their respective sports, training regimens, longevity and physical benchmarks, including: speed, strength, endurance, agility, flexibility and power.

Justino’s difficulty in making weight has been somewhat of a punchline. Now that the UFC introduced the women’s featherweight division, it appears that she can now solely focus on defending her title.

Justino earned the title at UFC 214 in a TKO win over Tonya Evinger. Or perhaps boxing at an even more comfortable weight class is the better option. Or maybe the WWE comes calling.

Justino’s failed drug test in 2011 remains as a dark cloud to this day, but there is no doubting her level of technique and power that surpasses her competition. A failed drug test in 2016 ended with her suspension being lifted after being given a retroactive use exemption for a diuretic.  Justino’s name may never be regarded as highly due to these two instances, but the UFC appears to be showing her appreciation as of late.  Whether or not that appreciation has come too late has yet to be seen.

The No.12 ranked SI fittest female athlete, Holly Holm, on the other hand, appears willing to step back up to 145 lbs to take on Justino. Holm ended a three-fight skid in June against Bethe Correia in a knockout win. Her return to the win column could possibly lead to a return to life as UFC champion by year’s end. If Holm can include both Ronda Rousey and “Cyborg” on her resume, there is no doubting her legacy as one of the best female combatants to step inside the octagon.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz is on a two-fight losing streak against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 205 and Claudia Gadelha at UFC 212. Despite the losses, Kowalkiewicz has proven to be game.  She holds the distinction as the only challenger to hurt the UFC strawweight champion in the third round of their affair.

The Polish combatant is still ranked at the top of her division and should be back sooner than later. Taking the 22nd spot of the Sports Illustrated Women’s Fittest list ain’t half bad either.