By: Logan Helfferich
The UFC had big plans for a rematch between Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey almost immediately following Holm’s head-kick knockout victory. However, Rousey went into a bit of a dark state and decided to take some time away from the octagon. In the meantime, Miesha Tate stepped up and got her shot for the title against Holm in the co-main event at UFC 196. Tate pulled off the upset victory with a rear-naked choke in the final round of the fight, sparking fight fans to talk about the future of the division and what lies ahead for Rousey.
Dana White expressed interest in scheduling Tate vs. Rousey for the title, but how is that fair? Rousey lost her last fight and should have to win at least one fight before getting another shot at the title, especially since she turned down an immediate rematch against Holm to get her title back. Rousey and Tate have previously fought three times and one could make the argument that Rousey should be entitled to a title shot since she has beaten the current champion three times already, but fight fans have seen that fight enough times . Been there, done that.
As mentioned earlier, Rousey’s loss to Holm was her first and only loss in her career. A revenge rematch would be great for Ronda’s “badass” image that she loves to portray, and she would easily be able to promote that fight. Rousey fans would want to see her successful in getting her revenge, while the Rousey “haters” will be hoping to see a repeat of the highlight reel finish from the first fight.
Having Rousey and Holm fight each other again would also give Tate a true number one contender. People can argue either way whether Rousey or Holm should get the next shot at the title, but having them fight each other for it is the easiest way to solve that dispute. Giving the shot to Rousey could be seen as unfair to Holm since she’s beaten Rousey already and a rematch between Tate and Holm just doesn’t have the same buzz that the fight had the first time. Part of what makes fights so exciting is the unknown factor, but fans know what to expect from that match-up now. Granted Rousey against Holm is a rematch too, but the fight took place a while ago now and Rousey will definitely be back with a vengeance the second time. She knows what she did wrong the first time (rushed straight in looking for takedowns instead of staying patient) and she’ll be looking to get her spot back on top of the women’s bantamweight division.
A fresh and exciting fight for the title would be Julianna Pena stepping up and getting her shot. Pena is a young, up-and-coming star, who has dominated every fight she’s had so far, most recently beating Jessica Eye via unanimous decision. Coincidentally, Eye is the same person that Tate defeated before she got her title shot. Giving Pena a shot not only makes an exciting matchup, but it would also boost her to contender status, giving the UFC one more female bantamweight star. Boosting Pena’s status also boosts the status of the entire division. Amanda Nunes, who just recently beat Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 196, would also be a good contender for the title while Rousey and Holm sort out who the real number one contender is. I’m sure Tate wants to get back into the octagon as soon as possible, and I’m sure she’d like to successfully defend her title at least once. Fighting Pena or Nunes first gives her an excellent chance to do just that.
With the recent signing of Cris “Cyborg” Justino, arguably the best female fighter in the world, the UFC has created a lot of openings for some huge fights between some of the best female fighters in the world. Cyborg’s first fight will be against Leslie Smith as part of a stacked card at UFC 198 in Brazil. Smith is a good fighter, but nowhere near the level of Cyborg. This is likely a mismatch made on purpose by the UFC in order to showcase Cyborg’s dominance. The fight is taking place at a catch-weight of 140 pounds. Cyborg has competed for the majority of her career at featherweight (145 pounds), but the UFC currently doesn’t have a women’s featherweight division. This brings up some more questions. First off, can Cyborg make it to 135 pounds? If not, will the UFC consider forming a women’s featherweight division? Bellator MMA currently has some talented women fighting at featherweight, but they also do not have a women’s featherweight division, let alone any female weight classes. The UFC could look at some of their talent as well as other female fighters around the world, then perhaps they could make another women’s weight class. This could spark potential “super-fights” between top females, both bantamweight and featherweight, as well as another potential season of the Ultimate Fighter, where the competitors would be fighting in a new weight class.
Following her assumed victory over Smith at UFC 198, there are various fights that make sense for Cyborg. The loser of the potential Rousey/Holm rematch would be a perfect match. The winner of the Rousey/Holm rematch would obviously get a title shot against Tate and Cyborg could fight the loser for the next title shot. Another good idea would be a matchup against fellow top bantamweight, Cat Zingano. Zingano hasn’t fought since her 14 second submission loss against Rousey last February. She’s a bigger bantamweight, who would match up well against Cyborg’s size. Plus, Zingano already has a TKO victory over the current bantamweight champion, Tate. A win against Cyborg would propel her right back into title contention.
Clearly, the UFC has a lot of options for the women’s bantamweight division. Hopefully they choose the right ones, mainly choosing to have “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey look for her revenge against Holly Holm. A main event or co-main event booking at UFC 201 would make a lot of sense.