Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg Is a Bad Move for Women's MMA and the UFC
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
For the last few weeks, the UFC president has been openly hinting that he's close to making a superfight between Ronda Rousey and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, arguably one of the biggest possible bouts in mixed martial arts right now.
While not committing to it, @danawhite just said @RondaRousey vs. Cris Cyborg could/should be a main event on UFC pay per view. #CTAM
But as attractive as a "champion vs. former champion" match between the world's two best female fighters may look on paper, it's the wrong one to make.
As Ronda Rousey herself stated in the aftermath of Cyborg's positive test for anabolic steroids, the fairest way for this fight to take place is if it happens at the 135-pound bantamweight limit.
More than anything else, the idea is that Cyborg may have been using banned substances for most of her career, and the weight cut will force her to shed some of her advantageous muscle mass. Cyborg's also had difficulty in the past just trimming down to 145 pounds, so a 135-pound cut may even bring her usual aggressiveness down a notch.
Either way, that fight shouldn't be happening.
During her reign as the Strikeforce women's featherweight champion, Cyborg destroyed her entire division in one-sided fights that made every opponent look utterly outclassed. As a result, the 145-pound women's roster is a wasteland, with no marketable fights to be made outside of Invicta FC and small regional shows.
Should Rousey vs. Cyborg ever happen?
Considering how long Cyborg's been suspected of doping, it's not something that should be rewarded with a starring role in a high-profile UFC or Strikeforce main event.
Moreover, this is exactly the kind of shortsighted matchmaking that's been plaguing the UFC for the last year. It's little more than a quick "dream fight" cash-in that kills the luster of the losing fighter—and forgive me for saying so, but that fighter's going to be Rousey.
Even with the weight cut, Cyborg is too strong, too fast and too aggressive to lose to "Rowdy" in a five-round fight.
Cyborg's stand-up is light years beyond anything that Rousey has shown in any of her fights. That's a problem right off the bat, and the former featherweight champion's sheer strength won't let her fall prey to an armbar as easily as Sarah Kaufman or many other women have.
Even assuming that Cyborg hasn't been on performance-enhancing drugs for most of her career, the insane muscle build that's already etched into her frame hints at a mauling waiting to happen. If I were a betting man, I would put money on Rousey getting beaten worse than Gina Carano.
But none of that needs to happen.
Instead of a matchup between Rousey and Cyborg, Dana White should be thinking of the bigger picture. He should be trying to promote a more diverse stack of fights designed to set up a proper title mix for the female bantamweights.
Why not have Rousey rematch Miesha Tate, and set up another main card fight that same night with Sara McMann?
Rousey and Tate already have a huge rivalry that's tailor-made for the UFC promotional wagon, and McMann's status as an Olympic silver medalist practically markets itself.
Just sign Shayna Baszler to the same card, pack in the story of her close split-decision loss to McMann at Invicta FC 2 and you've got a deep, multi-angled storyline to set up for weeks with UFC Primetime and a "Countdown" show.
That's the right way to bring women's MMA into the spotlight and set up an immediate title contender for the bantamweight belt.
Dana White and the UFC have been playing fast and loose with their main event talent and already paid the ultimate price once for weighing entire cards on a single fight. Doing the same thing with Ronda Rousey's future will be equally damaging for them and women's MMA.
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