(Rousey puts her game-face on before her 66-second title defense at UFC 170. / Photo by Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com)
By Adam Ackerman
Ronda Rousey is amazing. Simply amazing. The UFC women’s bantamweight champion possesses world-class Judo, and apparently some highly-effective Muay Thai as well. Her propensity for snatching and breaking arms was developed at an age before most kids can ride a bicycle without training wheels. As a competitor, she’s given us very little to criticize. The problem with Rousey is that she may quickly run out of competition. With Sara McMann bumped out of the picture, the women’s 135-pound division currently lacks athletes who can legitimately challenge Ronda’s dominance.
If Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Justino does in fact drop to 135 and is signed to the UFC, a super-fight years in the making could take place. Cyborg is a challenge for any woman, and some men. Her athleticism, power, aggressiveness, and diverse set of skills have brought her nothing but victories for the last nine years (except for that one no-contest). Needless to say, the former handball player turned fighter may be the biggest — and most profitable — test lurking in the future for Rousey, assuming that Cyborg ever settles her beef with Dana White.
Outside of that, there are painfully few challengers that the UFC could throw at Ronda, and call it a “competitive matchup” with a straight face.
I was beyond excited to see Rousey take on Cat Zingano, whose striking skills and power, purple belt in BJJ, and high-level wrestling background make her more than qualified to give Rousey a great fight. Watching her finish Miesha Tate toward the end of their three-round back-and-forth battle gave me confidence in her abilities to contend for the title. However, after her knee injury and the devastating loss of her husband, she has been sidelined for the time being. According to her manager Ed Soares, however, she could be ready to step back into the cage “as early as June.”