In this three-part series, I will choose my top UFC women’s prospects for 2021. They all had the first taste of life in the UFC last year, so I will detail their background and explain why, in my opinion, they are the ones to keep your eyes on during 2021.
In first place is Kanako Murata who is also my Women’s UFC Newcomer of the Year 2020.
1st: Kanako Murata
UFC record: 1-0 – decision. Now 12-1 overall.
Age 27. Japanese. Background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (purple belt), judo, and wrestling. Strawweight.
Kanako Murata is the former Invicta FC strawweight champion. She claimed her title in a hard-fought bout against Emily Ducote in November 2019 which she won by split decision and ended the year as champion.
As a result of her championship win, Murata was signed to the UFC but it would be over a year since her title win before she made her Octagon debut. Murata was booked to face Livinha Souza in November but her opponent withdrew due to an injury, leaving Murata without a bout.
However, an opponent was found in Randa Markos, who welcomed Murata to the UFC on the prelims of the UFC Fight Night she was originally scheduled to appear on. Murata put on an excellent performance as she won every round on the judges’ scorecards and took the win by unanimous decision.
The year of inactivity had clearly not affected Murata and her statistics now stand at two TKO, four submissions, and six decision victories from her twelve wins. Her only professional loss came against former UFC fighter Rin Nakai, by submission, in 2016.
Now on an eight-fight win streak, Murata has shown she can dominate fights at the UFC level. Markos has a UFC win over former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza yet could not win a round against the promotional newcomer.
With a strong grappling game and experience as a champion having gone the distance in a five-round title fight, Murata will pose a problem for the strawweight division and will hopefully have a bout scheduled soon.
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