As many of us noted following Ronda Rousey‘s quick win over Sara McMann at UFC 170, the women’s bantamweight division is quickly running out of viable contenders. Watching Rousey dispatch any and all opposition has been thrilling these past couple of years, sure, but it has also shown fans just how far above the skill level of her competitors “Rowdy” truly is. And unlike the middleweight division during the Silva era, the women’s bantamweight division is simply too shallow to keep feeding Rousey journey(wo)men and expecting fans to pay the price of admission.
With the division housing their quote unquote “biggest star” rapidly approaching purgatory, the UFC appears to be in dire need of a change-up. That’s where Joe Rogan steps in, as he did during an interview with KROQ’s Kevin & Bean Show (audio above) last Friday, stating that a “huge announcement” regarding Rousey’s next opponent is coming our way:
I can say no more than I’ve already said. I will tell you this, and this is a KROQ exclusive, within the next probably week or so a huge announcement will come about women’s fighting and I’ll be back in [the studio] and we’ll talk some more. It’s going to be crazy. Madness. I wish I could [talk about it now], but I would betray the confidence of my friend and employer.
Knowing Rogan as well as we do (I think Seth bumped into him at an expo one time, maybe?), this can only mean that Rousey’s next opponent is one of four people. Join us after the jump as we definitively rank those opponents in order of probability.
1. Cris Cyborg
(El Guapo, thy will be done.)
JUST HEAR ME OUT FOR A SECOND.
We all know how much the UFC loves themselves a grudge match, and it doesn’t get much grudgier than Rousey vs. Cyborg. These two have been feuding since their Strikeforce days, and I don’t even remember what a Strikeforce is anymore. Now that Cyborg is making the drop to 135 lbs, one could picture Dana White forgetting the past to make a penny in the future, if you know what I’m saying.
The conspiracy theorists out there will argue that this fight will never happen on account of the UFC “protecting” Rousey. Fact is, Rousey’s value has reached a point where it will likely drop with every squash match she is placed in moving forward. There’s a ceiling on this whole “Ronda Rousey *is* WMMA” thing and it’s rapidly approaching. Booking Rousey vs. Cyborg not only sheds the notion that the UFC is protecting Rousey, but injects the division/sport with a marquee matchup that is sure to go down in the history books. Simply put, the women’s division needs its Chuck vs. Tito and Rousey vs. Tate was not it.
I’m speaking in hyperbole, but you get the point. The UFC is in the money-making business, and Rousey vs. Cyborg is the most profitable option that currently exists in women’s MMA. Dana White can call Cyborg a roidhead all he wants, but we ain’t fooled. You know who else The Baldfather publicly trashed before signing? Kimbo Slice. James Toney. Let that sink in for a minute.
Cyborg seems to be clean for the time being and the UFC would be insane not to book this fight while they still can. Even if Rousey were to lose to Cyborg, the money they would make off the fight and subsequent, immediate rematch would be well worth the risk of exposing a hole in Rousey’s armor (plus, everyone loves a comeback story, right?).
And finally, if you don’t think that Dana White would sign Cyborg the day after Tito Ortiz stepped down as her manager purely out of spite, then brother, you don’t know Dana White. I know we’ve been burned in the past, but goddamn it you guys, try to believe.
2. Holly Holm
This one’s a bit of a curveball, because while the former boxing champion turned undefeated MMA fighter is the talk of the town amongst hardcores and Joe Rogan-type followers of the sport (hence why he would call the matchup “madness”), she is not exactly a hot commodity amongst casual fans/marks/outlanders, etc. There’s also the fact that Holm’s manager may be placing a higher price tag on his client than the UFC is willing to pay which makes her signing the far less likely scenario, but stop making points already, will you?
Holm is certainly an easier opponent to hype than either Alexis Davis or Cat Zingano — the latter of which is dealing with both a major injury and the death of her husband, so who knows when she’ll back — but has also yet to be tested against UFC level competition, let alone the woman who is dominating said competition. We’re not really sure if Holm could be the cause for this “huge announcement” or not, but she’s a higher probability than the next two options I’m going to list.
3. Bryan Caraway (or a male bantamweight TBD)
Just because Shooto chickened out on what would have been a tremendous step forward for equality doesn’t mean that the UFC can’t take the heat. You show me someone who *wouldn’t* pay to see Rousey vs. Caraway (or any male bantamweight of comparable skill level) and I’ll show you a bold-faced liar, friends.
This fight would be the epitome of everything Alice Paul campaigned for, and anyone who says otherwise is a misogynist.
4. Gina Carano
I feel like an asshole even writing this, but there are some (wild and completely unsubstantiated) rumors going around that the UFC is trying to book Ronda Rousey vs. Gina Carano for their huge 4th of July weekend card, which hasn’t even been announced yet is somehow already lacking star power. And worse yet, these rumors are gaining steam.
You see, despite the fact that Gina Carano hasn’t fought in some five years and couldn’t make 135 even when she did, there’s been talks of her working with Mike Dolce or Dr. Phil or whatever, fuck you.
This is not going to happen. In fact, I will go as far as to say that if this turns out to be the case, I will decrease my daily CagePotato output by 33%. TRY ME, DANA.
Before I forget.
Alternate Scenario Worth Considering: Joe Rogan is Drinking the Dana White Kool-Aid
Remember all that noise Rogan was talking about Pat Cummins to hype up UFC 170? The Internet remembers. It seems more and more often these days that when the UFC is at a loss for words in regards to one of their subpar matchups, they send UFC Hypster Joe Rogan in to say some shit that not even Comedian/Podcaster Joe Rogan would agree with.
Maybe it’s nothing, is what I’m getting at. Maybe MMA is nothing. Maybe we’re all just counting down our days on this tiny, spinning pebble and deluding ourselves into believing it’s something more. Life. Death. Gainsbourg. It’s all for naught.
It’s pretty much the most nihilistic way of looking at a piece of non-news, but a necessary perspective nonetheless.
So what do you think, Nation? Is Rousey vs. Cyborg surely on the horizon? Or are we just jerking off?