After Ronda Rousey made Cat Zingano tap out in 14 seconds, it doesn’t look like there’s anyone left in the UFC for her to fight. But there is one fighter out there who might be a solid MMA pick down the road.
Sometimes, you make a UFC pick that you expect to lose. That was the case on Saturday when we were on Cat Zingano (+540) in her UFC 184 main event fight against women’s Bantamweight champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. We didn’t expect Zingano to win, but we figured she had a better shot than her UFC odds suggested. It only took 14 seconds for Rousey to make Zingano tap out to a straight armlock/armbar.
We’re okay with that. Zingano never really did get to show off any of her skills after charging Rousey at the bell and ending up on the bottom. If she and Rousey fought again, we’d still consider betting on Zingano at these odds. But it’s back to the end of the line for Zingano; she’ll have to work her way back up the ladder to get another title shot, and fair enough. So what’s left for Rousey? Like they said on the broadcast, she’s cleaned out her weight division. There are no credible UFC fighters left to take Rousey on – if there were any to begin with.
Part Woman, Part Machine
Actually, there is one female fighter out there who has enough skill and marquee value to match up with Rousey in a UFC main event. As you’ve no doubt already guessed, it’s Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, the Invicta FC Featherweight champion. One day before Rousey overwhelmed Zingano at Staples, Cyborg was defending her title against Charmaine Tweet at Invicta FC 11, just a stone’s throw away at the Shrine Expo Hall. It didn’t take too much longer than Rousey’s fight; Cyborg only needed 46 seconds to put Tweet down via TKO.
Invicta FC has a healthy working relationship with UFC – Invicta live events have been available on UFC Fight Pass since last September, along with the nascent promotion’s tape library. So getting Cyborg and Rousey in the Octagon together shouldn’t be a problem from a business standpoint. The only real issue is whether or not Cyborg can cut down to 135 pounds. UFC promoter Dana White has already ruled out having the two women fight at a catchweight.
This is a serious enough issue, though. Cyborg has considered making this cut before, even planning a bantamweight fight with Invicta this past December, but a foot injury put a kibosh to those plans. Not that Cyborg seemed all that keen about dropping in class, anyway. Nor should she. The trend these days is toward staying in your “natural” division, or even moving up, rather than putting your body through the very real dangers of cutting weight.
The Six-Year Itch
If things don’t progress with Cyborg dropping down from 145 pounds or White allowing them to perform at a catchweight, there are only two viable options left on the table, and neither of them is really all that viable right now. In theory, Gina Carano could come out of retirement and fight Rousey. This would be a tremendous PPV draw, but Cyborg essentially drove Carano into retirement after beating her for the Strikeforce women's Featherweight championship in 2009.
That leaves the woman who won the co-main event at UFC 184. Holly Holm (–475) looked reasonably good in her split-decision victory over Raquel Pennington; Holm’s striking and footwork were outstanding, as you’d expect from a former boxing and kickboxing champion. But there wasn’t a lot of power behind Holm’s strikes, and she was unable to effectively land her signature head kick on Pennington. It’s difficult to imagine Holm being able to maintain distance against Rousey and pepper the champion from long range. But what other options does the UFC have at this point?