After a ton of speculation that UFC women’s bantamweight challenger Ronda Rousey would next defend her title against former Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion Gina Carano or Invicta FC featherweight champ Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, news has come tonight that “Rowdy” will be facing off with a woman who has already been proving her worth in the Octagon.
UFC President Dana White tweeted that Rousey will indeed face No. 2-ranked Alexis Davis at UFC 175 this July 5:
Ronda Rousey vs Alexis Davis Saturday, July 5th for the women’s bantamweight title in Las Vegas for International Fight Week!!!
— Dana White (@danawhite) April 12, 2014
Sounds like Joe Rogan’s hint of “madness” surrounding Rousey’s next opponent actually turned out to be about the tamest avenue the promotion could have taken (although it might actually make the most sense).
The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise after this week saw Rousey express her willingness to fight “Conviction,” who hasn’t been seen inside an MMA cage since losing her belt to “Cyborg” via TKO way back in 2009. It’s unknown whether or not Carano and Justino can actually make the bantamweight limit after fighting primarily at featherweights their entire careers.
Meanwhile, Davis has quietly joined Rousey as the only woman to rack up three victories since the creation of the UFC women’s division. She leapfrogs Cat Zingano, the No. 1 contender who suffered an unfortunate string of knee injuries in training after earning a shot at Rousey by defeating Miesha Tate at the TUF 17 Finale in April 2013.
The blockbuster announcement causes even more confusion about UFC 175, which just received a new co-main event featuring Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva a few days ago. Headlining the event is the long-awaited Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida middleweight title bout. No word has been released as to if Rousey vs. Davis will replace Sonnen vs. Silva in the co-main, but you’d have to think a title bout showcasing arguably the promotion’s biggest star would move to the forefront.
Did the UFC make the right decision by going with the proven challenger, or would it have been better to wait for the bigger draws that Carano and “Cyborg” may have brought in?
Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie for USA TODAY Sports