The speculation about UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey’s next opponent began moments after retaining her title for the fourth time at UFC 175 on July 5 in Las Vegas.
During her in-octagon interview following the 16-second knockout of Alexis Davis, Rousey was asked if she’d be willing to make a quick turnaround to fight at UFC 176 to fill the void of featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who had to drop out of his rematch against Chad Mendes. The scheduled event was eventually postponed.
Regardless of when Rousey fights next, the burning question is; who will be her opponent? If you ask her, she has a preferred list, but doesn’t really care who she’ll face next.
“I’m the champ. I’m supposed to fight anyone at any time, and I’m waiting for who steps up,” Rousey said while attending UFC Fight Night 51 in Brazil on Saturday.
Although she’s made it clear that she’s willing to fight whomever the matchmakers decide to put in front of her, the 27-year-old titleholder wants to defeat the fighter that’s beat two of her teammates, Brazilian Bethe Correia.
“I want to fight Bethe. I want to fight Bethe in Brazil actually. I think it would be an amazing event and I’d love to be part of it,” said Rousey.
The undefeated Correia has fought twice in the UFC and logged dominant wins over Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler, two of Rousey’s training partners. Correia has seized the opportunity to call out Rousey after each win, and the champion admires the 31-year-old’s approach.
“I think it’s extremely intelligent of her. I think it’s one of the things that was missing in women’s MMA before I came along and I’m glad that the girls are taking the hint and making themselves a lot more interesting to the fans,” said Rousey.
“I think storylines and the backstory is extremely important because the fight becomes more of who is athletically better. It becomes about who is right, and the fans pick favorites. It becomes personal with fans as well,” continued the women’s bantamweight champion.
“I think it’s very smart what she’s doing. She’s not going to get away with it, but it’s very intelligent.”
Correia has two UFC fights on her resume. She’s currently ranked ninth in the women’s 135-pound division. But it’s a fight Rousey wants and one that she thinks Correia is ready to take on.
“I definitely think she’s ready to challenge me. I think she’s one of the best in the division,” said Rousey. “She’s a top contender, and as soon as Dana (White) thinks that it’s her time, I’m ready to fight her.”