Now that Ronda Rousey is sitting on top of the world after her victory of Miesha Tate, the question has to be asked: Will there be enough contenders to challenge her over time?
The greatest champions in sports have always had a rival or rivals to push them to the next level.
The Boston Celtics had the Los Angeles Lakers. The New York Yankees have the Boston Red Sox. Even in MMA, Anderson Silva has Chael Sonnen looming overhead.
UFC president Dana White, who has admitted he is a huge fan of Rousey, still believes the women’s division is too shallow to truly present the kind of challenges that she needs to push her to the next level or maintain a worthy division over time.
“I think Ronda Rousey is unbelievable and I think she’s gonna be a huge star. But unfortunately, I think she’s gonna end up being a Lucia Rijker of our sport. She’s so nasty, I just think there’s not enough competition out there for her to really test her and really have her showcase in some great fights,” White said recently.
For Ronda Rousey, however, there seem to be fewer options, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some worthy contenders still standing in line.
While the gold belt is still newly minted around her waist, Rousey still keeps a positive outlook. She believes that by the time she goes through the challenges that still remain in her division, plenty of other female mixed martial artists can develop into championship contenders.
“Oh yeah, I definitely think there is. There’s already that story background between me and Sarah Kaufman, and how everyone thinks she should have got the title shot and this fight needs to happen. And whenever Cris Cyborg comes back, that fight would be great to happen, and then there’s other girls like Sara McMann, who is an Olympic medalist in wrestling, would be the only new person coming in that would be easy to build up a fight,” Rousey told MMAWeekly Radio.
“After that, that’s a good amount of time that would go by and there would be a lot more opportunities coming up around then. I’m not worried.”
One name that obviously came up was former Strikeforce 145-pound women’s champion Cris “Cyborg” Santos, who is currently serving a one-year suspension after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs following her last bout.
Santos teased before the suspension that she was going to attempt a cut down to 135 pounds, but when she comes back, that’s almost what she’s going to have to do because there may not be a 145-pound division to inhabit.
While Rousey competed at 145 pounds when she first arrived on the MMA scene, now that she’s down at bantamweight, it’s a comfortable place and it’s where she serves as champion.
When Cyborg comes back, Rousey says she needs to find a new weight class because her choices are limited otherwise.
“She’s the one that has fewer options. She’s the one that just got popped for steroids and has an empty division,” said Rousey. “I think the smartest idea for her would be to be like, ‘Look, I’m off steroids. I proved that I’m off and I can cut down to a lower division. I’m going to have to cut down to a lower division anyways cause who the hell am I going to fight at 145?'”
And lest we forget a potential rematch down the road with old rival Miesha Tate.
Rousey and Tate put on one of the most entertaining fights of the year thus far, and had by far the biggest bout in women’s MMA since Gina Carano exited the sport to hone her acting chops.
“I just do whatever I’ve got to do. If people want to see it, then I’ll do it, but I wouldn’t feel bad about beating her up again,” Rousey said about a rematch with Tate. “I’m not going to go out of my way if it’s not in the best interest of my career at that moment.”
Right now, Rousey is still enjoying the fruits of her victory before she heads back to training and awaits the call from Strikeforce with the official word on her next bout.
Check out the full interview of Ronda Rousey as she goes one-on-one with MMAWeekly Radio and there’s even a guest appearance from the Most Interesting Man in all of MMA.