Ronda Rousey is far ahead of her time. Some want to downplay her performance. Some want to say the women’s division is just weak. I don’t think it is. She has beat some formidable foes and done so in impressive fashion. Tate, McMann, Carmouche, Davis and now Zingano. Quite impressive. The question is who is next? The most popular answer is Cyborg. I like that fight too. I am just thinking that is further down the road…if it even happens. She would need a tune up fight at 135 pounds before that fight could even be made. So if not Cyborg…who?
1. Holly Holm – Pump the brakes. She didn’t convince me last night she could handle Rousey’s aggressiveness. I think that fight could happen, but Holm needs a credible win (and I am not convinced she can get one).
2. Jessica Eye – I like Eye, but she is undersized at 135. She is good. She can box. I just see her as the tier below the people Rousey has already beat. I would watch this fight. I think it could be next. However, I am not sold she is a threat.
3. Bethe Correia – This makes some sense. Bethe has been impressive. She is undefeated. She is building a nice resume. She has talked tons of smack. I am not sure how competitive it would be, but there could be some heat and hype for it. This could be my pick for the next Rousey fight. i think Bethe has a better chance than Jessica Eye, and she has built more hype for the fight with her four horsewoman talk.
4. Sarah Kaufman – She already lost to Rousey in Strikeforce, but I feel she is being a little overlooked. She only has two career losses (one being to Rousey). I think a win over Alexis Davis in her next fight gets her into the mix. Again, not sure she beats Rousey.
5. Someone else in UFC – I am not sure there are many other 135ers of note in this discussion. I know Larissa Pacheco is 0-1 in the UFC, but she could emerge eventually given her age. Julianna Pena may be the name that stands out the most out of the “other women”. She has real potential, but who knows how she will do coming off an injury. With a nice performance UFC could fast track her.
6. Someone not in UFC yet – I am not convinced there is a female bantamweight that will be elite that is not yet in UFC. Perhaps the most likely names right now are Pannie Kianzad and Irene Aldana. I am hoping that soon a plethora of female prospects emerge, however, my guess is that is more likely at strawweight than bantamweight for the females.
7. Bryan Caraway – Just kidding…just kidding. But, could you imagine….just kidding!!!!!!!
Can I just say that I want the Cyborg fight? Weight classes aside. It is the fight. Its the best challenge. Can I also say that perhaps Miesha Tate is still the best opponent for Rousey currently in UFC? I would still pick Rousey, but Tate may be the second best female bantamweight. Can I also say, I know Gina Carano’s return has been snuffed out and I know that she probably wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance, but I would enjoy that fight. There is nothing wrong with those type fights at this point for Rousey.
Ronda is just special. In 10 years we are going to look at her career in awe. She is the total package. She has the proverbial “it” factor. She is mean. She works hard. She is an elite athlete. She has drive to get better and better. She has the stuff that separate champions from contenders. I also think she has the stuff that separate all-time great champions from other champions. I look at the list of fights for Rousey, and I am struggling to see a real threat to her crown (No, I don’t want to see her fighting men). I can look at every other UFC division and see multiple fighters who could be legit threats to the champion…except Rousey. Yes, there are some fights that would be nice to watch, but at this point they appear to be resume builders for Rousey’s legacy. She is just THAT good. No other UFC champion has ever been this dominant. Yes, other champions have more title defenses, but none have been more dominant. Not Anderson Silva. Not Georges St. Pierre. Not even Fedor.