UFC 184 post-fight analysis: The UFC needs to make Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg ASAP

Ronda Rousey versus Cat Zingano was billed as Rousey's toughest, strongest, and most dangerous opponent to date. Zingano was undefeated, the only other woman…

By: Mookie Alexander | 8 years ago
UFC 184 post-fight analysis: The UFC needs to make Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg ASAP
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Ronda Rousey versus Cat Zingano was billed as Rousey’s toughest, strongest, and most dangerous opponent to date. Zingano was undefeated, the only other woman besides Rousey to finish Miesha Tate in the past 6 years, and had finished all but one of her opponents. Nevertheless, Zingano was predictably pegged as a massive underdog in the betting odds.

Ultimately, the promotional push of a potentially well-contested clash between two unbeatens proved to be a royal waste of time.

Rousey needed only 14 seconds in the UFC 184 main event to dispose of Zingano, who basically almost managed a full re-enactment of the first B.J. Penn vs. Caol Uno fight from yesteryear. In her last 3 fights, Rousey has finished her opposition in a combined 96 seconds. She’s dispatched the entire top 5 of the current women’s bantamweight rankings six times (having beaten Tate twice) in the past three years.

It has become completely futile and pointless to even present an argument that any woman’s 135 lbs fighter poses as much as a slightly formidable threat to Rousey’s throne. That doesn’t mean that she’s not being highly skilled and talented fighters, it’s just that she is several higher levels than all of them. Does anyone seriously believe that someone like Bethe Correia, whose 3-0 UFC record consists of a retired Julie Kedzie, a 3-2 Jessamyn Duke, and Shayna Baszler (1-3 over the past 4 years), can trouble Rousey? The only storyline that’s been conjured up is the fact that Duke and Baszler are part of Rousey’s “Four Horsewomen” group, which is just a different variation of the time the UFC lamely advertised Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir as JDS trying to get “revenge” on Mir for twice defeating his friend and mentor Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Correia wouldn’t stand a chance versus Rousey, and neither would Jessica Eye, Marion Reneau, Julianna Pena, Holly Holm, or anyone else on the roster. Selling a Rousey opponent as potentially competitive has the same effect as underselling Rousey’s dominance. She’s developed at a rate that far exceeds the collective talent and abilities of the women below her.

There is only one seemingly compelling and competitive fight for Rousey to make, and that’s against reigning Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. Like Rousey, Cyborg is miles ahead of everyone else in her division. Less than 24 hours before Rousey mangled Zingano’s arm, Cyborg cleaned up Charmaine Tweet in 47 seconds to defend her title and extend her unbeaten professional MMA record to 14. The women’s featherweight division is even shallower in depth than bantamweight, and for all intents and purposes Cyborg title fights have the same meaning as a squash match.

These two women are out of credible challengers, and it certainly feels that the UFC must find a way to make them fight, even as both Rousey and Cyborg have essentially done their part to effectively kill off that possibility. Rousey has been adamant that Cyborg drop to 135 and is a “cheater and a fraud”, and Dana White backed her up on the demand at the UFC 184 press conference by saying that Cyborg should come down in weight. Just last year, Cyborg herself guaranteed that she would drop to 135 and “retire Rousey“, but then squashed her own plans for good in December. Combine the weight class discrepancies with Cyborg’s documented PED use and it seems that the UFC has its hands full with putting Rousey vs. Cyborg together. Of course, these barriers could very well be solved if the money is right.

As strange as it sounds, Rousey is in danger of becoming a victim of her own success. Each fight is becoming almost comically easier than the last, and the UFC can’t simply pretend that this won’t change any time soon. Dominance is great, but even Steffi Graf dropped a few sets from time to time. As with any other great champion, Rousey needs a foil — think Gustafsson for Jones and Sonnen for Silva — and Cyborg is it. Believe it or not, Miesha Tate is the closest one she’s had by virtue of representing roughly 60% of her total fight time, and even then she was armbarred both times. Maybe Cyborg experiences a similar fate as the rest, or she genuinely gives Rousey hell and proves to be every bit the danger that other opponents haven’t been. It’s certainly a hell of a lot more interesting to me, even at a 140 lbs catchweight (keeping in mind that Rousey’s first 4 fights were at 145 lbs or the 150 lbs catchweight vs. Tweet), than Rousey barely breaking a sweat to dispose of anyone else at 135. You don’t have to shut Invicta’s FW division down to get Cyborg to come over, you can just bring in Cyborg. She has fight footage in Invicta and Strikeforce readily available on Fight Pass and it can easily be used to their promotional advantage.

There isn’t much benefit to waiting for either division to get better, and with Rousey alternating her MMA career with filming movies, as well as speculating on her own retirement plans as far back as August 2013, we don’t know how many more times we’ll see Rousey compete in the sport. As Lorenzo Fertitta once said, you gotta strike while the iron is hot. This is the best time to book Rousey vs. Cyborg, and I don’t really care how it gets done, I want to see it happen.

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Mookie Alexander
Mookie Alexander

Mookie is a former Associate Editor for Bloody Elbow, leaving in August 2022 after ten years as a member of the staff. He's still lurking behind the scenes.

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