As was announced yesterday, bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will be defending her 135 pound title this coming July 5th in Las Vegas, when she takes on the number two ranked Alexis Davis at UFC 175.
The bout will act as the co-main event for the evening’s card, and will be Rousey’s third title defense in seven months; a torrid pace to be sure.
However, some fans are starting to grumble that the champ isn’t facing the best competition that’s available, and that indeed, some are beginning to suspect that the promotion is protecting their female superstar.
Regarding the suspicion, perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
On the one hand, Rousey has faced and crushed every (Zuffa) fighter that the company has had to offer her, and she shows no signs of slowing down. Evidence of that would be her last fight. In it, Rousey needed all of a minute-six of the first round to drop and stop Sara McMann. In terms of her UFC 170 opponent, it was thought that the unbeaten MMA fighter and Olympic silver medalist wrestler would be able to give Rousey a legitimate challenge. Yet, that proved woefully not to be the case.
As such, the question becomes which fighter or fighters can offer the champ a decent fight, and more importantly, are those fighters signed to the brand?
As it stands now, the only two top ten UFC fighters that have earned a right to fight Rousey, and that might pose a challenge to her, are Alexis Davis and Cat Zingano. Beyond the pair, there’s no one to really speak of. The champ has either faced the remaining crew or they’re so far down the rankings list that to give any of them a title shot would be the promotion grasping at straws to find a challenger for Rousey.
However, outside of the brand there are two fighters that might stand the champ a decent fight; Holly Holm and Christiane Justino. Both fighters are active and relevant, yet in each case the promotion finds reasons not to sign them.
In Holm’s case the reason given for not signing the fighter is money, and more particularly the unpleasant way “The Preacher’s Daughter’s” manager conducts business. In the case of “Cyborg,” the reasons appear to be more dynamic, and forever shifting, with the net result being that the UFC appears to have no interest in inking a deal with her.
In terms of how fans feel about it all, it’s here where the criticism comes. Fans have come to appreciate just how talented Rousey is. As such, they’d like to see her being able to draw from the best talent pool available, and simply put, the UFC isn’t providing it. To the point, fans are left scratching their heads as to how the brand could chase after Gina Carano – hasn’t fought in five years, hasn’t won in six – but not Holm or Justino.
To put it in context, the company stipulates that the problem in signing Holm is money. However, to get Carano to come out of retirement and take a fight with Rousey won’t be cheap. Surely, the brand will have to pay her some kind of premium. If this is the case, then many would wonder why the promotion wouldn’t give that same money to Holm.
In terms of “Cyborg” they want her to make weight for three different bantamweight fights, while they’re prepared to make weight concessions to Carano and simply give her a title shot, and with no qualifying matches.
Regarding it all, many fans view this as “Alice in Wonderland” logic. Concordantly, some are beginning to believe the UFC is protecting their superstar fighter.
In terms of the truth of it, on the one hand it’s an unfair statement; particularly to the champ. Rousey fights whomever the UFC puts in front of her and complains not. However, on the other hand the brand should be looking to sign Holm and Justino, and not just Carano, and in an effort to give the champ the best challenges that she can face. On this point, it does look as if the brand is trying protecting their women’s champ. Sadly, most fans would probably argue that the champ doesn’t need protecting from either Holm or Justino.
Yes, the brand should lure Carano out of retirement, but they should also come to terms with the two fighters that really matter, which are “TPD” and “Cyborg.” If the UFC were to do that, then the question of the promotion protecting their prized fighter would simply go away.