The UFC bantamweight title that was handed to her – yes, handed to her because she was deemed champion before fighting in the UFC, and admittedly didn’t feel she earned it yet at that point – in 2012 is now firmly around her waist as we close in on the second quarter of 2014 with what seems like no threat in sight for the foreseeable future.
MMA logicians will point to Alexis Davis, a fighter on a five-fight winning streak and owner of the same number of Octagon wins as Rousey, as a reasonable pick for the champ’s next fight. They would be fairly accurate in that assertion.
Or maybe if Cat Zingano can make a healthy return from injury, while recovering from the tragic death of her husband, then she would be the rightful contender.
But when we’re talking about the best fight and the one most want to see, is it Davis? Is it Zingano? Probably not. That distinction more than likely falls to Cris Cyborg.
With all due respect to Davis and Zingano, no one is storming the box office to get their hands on tickets to see either one fight Rousey in a main event. Cyborg, however, carries with her a ferocity that few have and a killer instinct rarely seen in MMA, on both the women’s and men’s sides of the game.
Rousey, with her I-don’t-give-a-[expletive] attitude and seemingly impenetrable aura, combined with Cyborg’s reputation for being, well, a cyborg of a fighter, would make for a build-up of hype that hasn’t been seen since Chael Sonnen got his rematch with Anderson Silva.
And we’re not even talking about the fight yet.
The two best female fighters in world are 10 pounds apart, and the heavier of the two, Cyborg, recently said she will make the cut, with a doctor’s guidance, to face Rousey in the UFC. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, UFC president Dana White is hesitant.
“You don’t just get a couple of fights at 135 and come in and step over every girl in the UFC,” White said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
White also said that Tito Ortiz, Cyborg’s now-former manager, boxed her into a corner by alleging that she would die if she cut to 135 pounds. White called that a bold statement, which it is, but it’s nothing more than a claim by someone who doesn’t handle Cyborg’s affairs anymore. White has stood his ground in saying that Cyborg has to prove she can make the cut and be healthy before fighting in the UFC’s bantamweight ranks, despite the fighter claiming the comment about the weight cut and death was misinterpreted.
Whatever the case, anything less than the Rousey vs. Cyborg fight is a waste of time.
The problem with Cyborg having to compete in two fights at 135 pounds before coming to the UFC, then presumably having to fight her way up the organization’s rankings, is they might miss the window of opportunity to make the fight happen. Rousey, just one year into the UFC, is fielding major offers from movie studios to be cast in full-length feature films.
The more offers that come in from Hollywood, the sooner Rousey will jump on the next bus dropping her off in front of a director’s camera. True, that might not be for a while, but there’s just as good a chance that it will come sooner or later.
So why risk it? There’s no sense in that.
White has alleged that Hollywood has yet to offer Rousey enough money to lure her from the Octagon on a full-time basis. But the fighter is rubbing elbows with Hollywood A-listers more and more, like Entourage castmate Jerry Ferrara, AKA “Turtle,” and parties of the sort are surely in her ear about the benefits of acting over fighting. Rousey’s popularity in those circles is quickly turning the process of rubbing elbows into a standing-room-only affair, with more and more showing her the glitz and glamour.
So as not to turn mixed martial arts into a sport similar to boxing where the super fight can’t come to fruition before it’s too late (ie: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao), the necessity to have Cyborg fight a number of times should be dismissed. It’s reasonable to want to see Cyborg cut to 135 with no issues, but having her fight a number of times becomes unnecessary when she can make test cuts between now and the end of the year.
Best to cash in on the Cyborg fight before Rousey goes full-on Gina Carano, being on camera, never to return to the cage.
(Follow @Erik_Fontanez on Twitter)