It has been over a year since Ronda Rousey last stepped into a UFC octagon to face off against an opponent.
Before we move forward, let’s flash back to what will likely go down as one of the biggest upsets in mixed martial arts history, as Rousey’s undefeated record and incredible title run was brought to a screeching halt. Holly Holm effectively shocked the entire mixed martial arts world.
On December 30, Rousey looks to successfully turn her career back in the right direction, when she faces incumbent champion Amanda Nunes for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship.
Rousey cashing in her rematch clause in her return to the UFC was a given, as if she was going to do anything aside from fight for the Women’s Bantamweight Championship.
Since Rousey’s loss last November, the Bantamweight Championship hanged hands 3 times in 8 months. Rousey lost title to Holly Holm after a 1,074 day title reign. Holly Holm lost the title to Miesha Tate after a 111 day title reign. Miesha Tate lost the title to Amanda Nunes after a 126 day title reign. Both fighters lost the Bantamweight Championship in their first title defense.
Sense a trend here? Nunes’ first title defense will be against arguably the greatest women’s mixed martial artist ever.
But, the story doesn’t end there. In fact, it appears that the UFC has their sights set on a bigger, much more loftier prize..but we’ll get back to that in just a minute.
On December 13, the UFC announced the creation of the Women’s Featherweight Division and set an inaugural title fight between former Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm and 11th-ranked Bantamweight Germaine de Randamie. This fight will be for the Women’s Featherweight Championship and will headline UFC 208 on February 11.
Looking on the surface, this is fantastic news for mixed martial artists and fans of the UFC alike. More women will be able to compete in the UFC, with the introduction of the new weight class.
Give it a minute though and include some deep thinking – did the UFC attempt to stack the deck here to line their own pockets? Let’s give that a look, shall we?
Looking directly at the Women’s Featherweight Championship fight. Holly Holm has suffered defeat in her last two bantamweight fights – title loss to Miesha Tate, loss to now-number 2 ranked Valentina Shevchenko. Who and or what does Holm moving up a weight class benefit? The UFC.
The obvious answer to who should fight for the Women’s Featherweight Championship is Cris Cyborg, but the answer appears to be much more complicated than that.
UFC President Dana White said that the UFC had offered the fight to Cyborg but she turned it down.
“We’re out to disrespect Cyborg?” White stated to the media. “She said she couldn’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks. We offered her a second and a third fight. She turned them down. With everything I’ve got going on in my life, the last thing I’m thinking is, “Hey, let’s get together and disrespect Cyborg.” This is a business. I had two girls who wanted to fight for the 145-pound title. This is the pros.”
White went on to further explain the UFC’s decision with the developing Cyborg situation.
“We brought her (Cyborg) in because she said she could make 135 pounds. When she couldn’t, the weight cut was too hard, we created the 145-pound division and she still doesn’t want to fight.”
Once the comments from Dana White were made public, Cris Cyborg was fast to shoot back at the UFC President with some pointed barbs.
I'm tired of working for a boss who doesn't like me
— Cris Cyborg (@criscyborg) December 14, 2016
“I’m happy the UFC created my division,” Cyborg said to MMAFighting.com. “Everybody knows I’m the featherweight champion. I’m undefeated for 10 years in my division. They put this belt only to sell the fight for the new MMA fans. For an example, Holly is coming off two consecutive losses and will fight for the belt. The real fans know what’s real.”
Remember how we said that we’d come back to the “bigger, much more loftier prize”? This is where the seemingly sketchy, yet strategic, deck-stacking appears to come together.
The UFC so badly wants to do Ronda Rousey / Holly Holm 2, and it is no secret. The UFC knows that is where the money is, but what ever could maximize that money? How about a champion vs. champion superfight as the rematch?
We’ve seen the UFC go down this path as recently as last month with Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez fighting for the UFC Men’s Featherweight Championship. If you forgot how successful that PPV was for the UFC, let’s just take a quick look back at the numbers.
UFC 205 drew a gate of $17.7 million dollars and was “one of the most viewed PPV events in UFC history”, according to the UFC.
While Conor McGregor is admittedly an insane draw in the world of mixed martial arts at this stage, you have to believe that Rousey/Holm 2 would garner a very high buy-rate, especially if we get ourselves the rumored Champion vs. Champion bout.
Many people expect Ronda Rousey, who turns 30 in February, to call an end to her career relatively soon. For fans of Rousey, it is hard to believe she will walk away from the sport she has made herself a superstar in without regaining her Bantamweight Championship and exacting revenge on Holly Holm.
Even Dana White has his sights set on the big picture.
“This is a business of opportunity,” White told media. “When opportunity arises, you jump up and take it. If you don’t, the bus is gone, and it passes you by. If Holly wins and becomes a champion, and that’s the scenario (Rousey regains the title)? I guarantee people will want to see it.”
Speaking for UFC fans around the world, a Ronda Rousey/Holly Holm – Champion vs. Champion superfight is exactly what we want to see, whether or not the UFC has stacked the deck in favor of the fight.