For all the entertainment that UFC 170 had to offer, the one thing that really stood out in it’s wake was how few real fighting options there are left for the women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey.
Just over a week ago, Rousey crumpled the person who was advertised as her Olympic level equivalent in Sarah McMann with relatively the same amount of ease that she has had with all of her opponents. Of course, the very quick referee stoppage also helped. It marked the first time that Rousey had won by TKO, but more importantly, it plainly showed that Rousey is still leagues ahead of the competition being put before her.
So it beckons to be asked, what are the fights of actual intrigue still left for Rousey?
Cris “Cyborg” Justino
This is the major fight to be made for the 135 pound champ at this time. Cris Cyborg, much like Rousey only at featherweight, has absolutely crushed her competition for a majority of her career. Her last fight for the Invicta FC featherweight title against the top ranked Marloes Coenen, barely resembled anything like a sport as it was a complete one-sided beating in her favor.
If the UFC can get over the company retort saying that she butchered her career by having Tito Ortiz as her manager for a short period, and if she can make 135, then maybe there’s hope for this fight to be made.
Alexis Davis has maybe made the most legitimate case for herself to get a title shot out of the entire women’s bantamweight division in the UFC. Her recent contentious split-decision win against Jessica Eye aside, she’s still on a five fight win streak. This streak includes two wins in the UFC where she dominated the likes of Liz Carmouche and Rosi Sexton. She also put Shayna Baszler to sleep in Invicta FC.
The problem is that while it seemed like her stock was very high after the Carmouche fight, the UFC decided to go in a different direction for 170’s main event. So Alexis Davis vs Jessica Eye happened and it ended up not benefiting either fighter.
I get what the UFC was trying to do there. Capitalizing on having two former Olympic athletes in the main event while the Olympics were actually going on isn’t a bad idea. However, that charming anecdote loses it’s luster when it overshadowed the more deserving choice. Rousey vs. Davis should have already been made.
After 170 it’s really uncertain where the UFC stands with Davis. She could get the title shot next, but it doesn’t seem like the most opportune time.
The final option for a potential title challenger has got to be the one that I’m sure everyone wishes things turned out differently for in Cat Zingano. Considering the personal turmoil she’s been through with her knee injury and then the devastating loss of her husband by an apparent suicide, I can’t fathom her jumping back into professional fighting, let alone a title fight with the most dominant female fighter on the planet.
However, according to her manager, Ed Soares, that’s exactly what she’s interested in doing as he stated she would be ready for June. I guess if that’s what she wants, then the more power to her. The UFC has also stated that she would be next in line after McMann if she was ready to do so.
Zingano would be coming into a fight with Rousey as the last person other than the champ to have defeated Meisha Tate. She also holds notable wins over Barb Honchack and Raquel Pennington.
There are others that could be added to this, like maybe Holly Holm when she starts fighting higher level competition, but for right now this list pretty much covers it. Cris Cyborg, Alexis Davis and Cat Zingano are all interesting options for Rousey in 2014. I look forward to the direction the UFC takes it.