Who will Ronda Rousey fight next?
UFC bantamweight women’s champion Ronda Rousey dispatched Alexis Davis in just 16 seconds Saturday night at UFC 175.
Even for Rousey, who was a large favorite, the match was fast. It’s never a good thing (for the opponent) when your whole match fits on an Instagram video.
Rousey traded a few punches with Davis, the No. 2 ranked fighter at 135 pounds, before catching her with a right, a knee and then a textbook judo throw. She hit her with a handful of punches on the ground, before the fight was stopped. There’s no question Davis was overmatched, despite a 3-0 record in the UFC — including a win by decision over Liz Carmouche.
After the fight, Joe Rogan asked Rousey in the Octagon if she’d be willing to fight again at UFC 176. The question apparently irked UFC president Dana White and put Rousey in a tough position. But she said if the doctors cleared her, she would fight in four weeks time. But against who?
The number of contenders for Rousey’s title belt appear to be getting smaller very quickly. She is now 10-0 (4-0 in the UFC) and was only truly tested by one opponent — Miesha Tate in their rematch. Every other fight has ended in the first round, including six under one minute.
So who could possibly be a legitimate contender? We look at a few options.
1. Cat Zingano
The obvious top choice is Zingano, who is 8-0 and defeated Miesha Tate in her UFC debut in April 2013. But she hasn’t fought since due to a serious knee injury in training a month later. It was tough luck for Zingano, who was set to appear on “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Rousey and likely fight her at UFC 168. Instead, that honor went to Tate. According to reports, Zingano is back to full health after ACL surgery and ready to get back into the ring. Zingano is already used to fighting at 135 pounds and would be the most powerful fighter Rousey has faced. Rousey better keep working on her punching, because Zingano will come at her with serious standup power. But is it fair to ask Rousey to fight Zingano on one month notice? Not at all.
2. Cris Justino
The fighter known as “Cyborg,” who dispatched former women’s MMA darling Gina Carano, would provide the most appetizing matchup for PPV buys. But she’s not fighting for UFC and had a contract with Invicta FC. She’s actually been fighting Muay Thai bouts recently, as opposed to mixed martial arts. And she’s used to fighting at 145 pounds featherweight, not Rousey’s 135-pound level. It would be very tough for the 28-year-old to get down to 135 pounds to meet Rousey. It seems inevitable this fight will happen at some point, but probably not until down the road a bit.
3. Bethe Correia
The Brazilian is the only other top contender besides Zingano to remain undefeated (8-0). She’s also gotten off to a good start in the UFC with wins over Julie Kedzie and the previously undefeated Jessamyn Duke. But Correia is already on the fight card for UFC 176 against Shayna Baszler, so she won’t be fighting Rousey then. Honestly, silly post-fight question aside, it would make more sense for Rousey to sit ringside and watch Baszler-Correia. If Correia wins, you have your next fight for Rousey. It also means Rousey wouldn’t look bad for skipping UFC 176 and could give Zingano a chance to tune up for Rousey with an easier opponent in her first match back from injury.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.