It’s a fight that has been talked about for years. It’s the one fans were chomping at the bit to see. It was hailed as a real pivotal women’s MMA crossroads. It was to feature Ronda Rousey and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. It hasn’t happened yet.
Will it ever happen?
Rousey entered the UFC and began her historic tear as the first women’s bantamweight champion. During her reign as champion, Rousey successfully defended her title an incredible six times. Only one of her six title defenses made it past the first round. It seemed Rousey was just a step ahead of each and every opponent. It seemed that there would be no stopping her. It was widely believed that Cyborg was the only person who could give Rousey a true challenge and push her. That is, until one fateful night at UFC 193 when Holly Holm proved those beliefs to be false.
Rousey, the champion, came in confident. Some would even call her cocky. It seemed another Rousey first-round finish was in sight. Holm had barely squeaked by in her previous UFC bouts. Plenty of people questioned whether she deserved a shot. However, it became very clear on that night that Holm had a lot more to offer than anyone could have ever imagined. Holm knocked out the supposedly unbeatable and unbreakable Rousey. The MMA world was turned upside down. The champion had been dethroned in devastating fashion.
All of this happened in November 2015. Since Rousey’s dethroning, the women’s bantamweight title has been around the waists of Holm, Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes. Cyborg signed to the UFC, too. The Brazilian competed twice and outclassed each opponent, albeit at a heavier weight than the bantamweight upper limit of 136 pounds. The timing seems right for these two to collide in a long-anticipated showdown. Rousey’s triumphant return should coincide with the fight to finally settle the ultimate question about the identity of the best female MMA fighter of all time.
The problem is, it was announced that Rousey’s return would not come in a bout against Cyborg, but against the aforementioned Nunes, the recently crowned champion.
Why does Rousey get an immediate title shot after a brutal knockout loss and a year-long layoff? Why isn’t Rousey fighting Cyborg? Why isn’t Rousey fighting in New York? How will she come back?
So many questions, but the answers are few.
There’s only one thing that’s painfully clear: the time for Rousey vs. Cyborg has passed.
Cyborg wanted to be the first person to defeat Rousey. She wanted to send the confident judoka into retirement, much like she did with former MMA star Gina Carano. The UFC’s chance to make the fight vanished when Holm squashed Rousey. The full blame cannot be put on the UFC, though. Cyborg’s UFC fights have been contested at a catchweight of 140 pounds. Cyborg couldn’t get down to 135 pounds, and Rousey was unwilling to move up and fight in a non-title affair. Such a fight wouldn’t have the same meaning if Cyborg was to defeat Rousey.
Even if Rousey is able to dispatch of Nunes, which is no guarantee, it still seems that it’s a little too late for her and Cyborg to settle any debates. The appeal has been lost, just as it was for Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko against, well, anyone in the UFC. The time for the super fight has gone and passed along with Rousey’s undefeated record.
Rousey needs to focus on the task at hand when she takes on Nunes at UFC 207 on Dec. 30. It will be the Brazilian’s first title defense. Nunes has been asking for this fight, too. There is so much on the line, and not only for Nunes. Rousey could come out and obliterate Nunes. The UFC could use this momentum to book the Super Bowl weekend card with Rousey vs. Cyborg. (One can only hope, but stranger things have happened.) There’s plenty hanging in the balance for the future of the former champ Rousey.
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