Going into her UFC 175 title bout against Alexis Davis (16-6), Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey (10-0) was undefeated in nine professional fights. Throughout her career Rousey has never depended on the judges’ scorecard for a victory, finishing 8 of her 9 opponents in the first round. In her defense of the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship at UFC 170, Rousey scored her first TKO victory (knees to body) over Sara McMann (7-1). McMann was considered Rousey’s greatest challenge up to that point in her career; it took 66 seconds for the champion to defeat the challenger.
During her most recent defense of the belt, Rousey finished the challenger, Davis, in only 16 seconds (punches). In the blink of an eye, Rousey found herself “grounding and pounding” her opponent to a victory after a slick head and arm toss from the champion. Before the fight Rousey addressed Davis, a winner of 8 of her last 9 bouts, as the “most balanced fighter” she had ever faced in her career. 16 seconds, what a strenuous battle right?
Immediately after her title defense Rousey was interviewed by UFC ringside commentator Joe Rogan. Rogan asked Rousey about possibly fighting on short notice Aug. 2 at UFC 176. While Rousey claimed that she would take the fight, she noted that she may need some time to heal up from a nagging knee injury which will require surgery before she reenters the octagon. Reports from several MMA news outlets also released that Rousey broke her right hand in the UFC 175 co-main event, so fans can expect a lengthy rest period from Rousey before she defends her throne again.
In the mean time, speculation among UFC followers concerning Rousey’s next challenger have risen.
Fans across the MMA stratosphere have been waiting for a dream matchup between Rousey and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justiano (12-1). This fight could be all but a reality as UFC Commissioner Dana White has displayed disinterest in signing Justiano due to her previous failed drug test. Also, the likelihood of “Cyborg” making a cut to the bantamweight division would be a long shot, considering the 29-year-old already undergoes a severe weight cut to make the 145 lb. division. A catch-weight bout between the two is also very unlikely, as Rousey is not too delighted at the idea of gaining weight that she will eventually have to lose to defend her title.
Perhaps the most deserving candidate to challenge Rousey next for the belt is Cat Zingano (8-0). Zingano has been the number one contender for the Bantamweight belt since she defeated Meisha “Cupcake” Tate (14-5) in The Ultimate Fighter season 17 finale. Zingano was already scheduled to square off with Rousey as an opposing head coach in season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter, but forfeited her spot due to an ACL injury which left her sidelined in need of surgery.
As of now, Zingano is back training in the octagon and has returned to MMA activities since her recovery. Zingano is scheduled to fight Amanda Nunes (9-3) at UFC 178 in order to lock up a title shot against Rousey in the future.
With the champion expected to be on the sideline for the next several months, the women’s Bantamweight division is full of contenders ready to battle it out for the right to challenge Rousey.
However, dethroning Rousey will be a tall task to expect of any female fighter at this point. Consider this, in her last 1:22 of time in the octagon, Rousey has finished two opponents. Challengers should focus on making it out of the first thirty seconds against Rousey, let alone the first round.