Marloes Coenen: Fighting Cyborg Still a Much Tougher Challenge Than Ronda Rousey

Damon Martin@@DamonMartinContributor IJuly 8, 2013

photo courtesy of
photo courtesy of

There will certainly be a lot of attention when UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey gets back in action later this year against old rival Miesha Tate in a bout currently scheduled for UFC 168 in December.

In the big picture of women's MMA, there may be an even bigger fight taking place this weekend when Invicta crowns their first ever featherweight champion as former Strikeforce title holder Cris "Cyborg" Santos faces Marloes Coenen in the headline fight for the company's first pay-per-view effort.

Cyborg and Coenen met once before while competing under the Strikeforce banner back in 2010 with the Brazilian coming out on top by TKO in the third round. Coenen believes to this day the fight was stopped too early, so now she gets a second chance at toppling the person who she believes is still the best pound-for-pound women's fighter on the planet.

Despite all of the attention that Rousey gets for being UFC champion and a popular figure for interviews, Coenen still thinks it's Cyborg's crown, and that she is still the tougher fight to take.

"Quite frankly, if you fight Ronda I know you get a lot of publicity, she'll talk smack or whatever. But to me, on a sporting level, it's way more exciting to fight Cyborg," Coenen told Bleacher Report recently.  "To me she's the baddest fighter, the most exciting fighter in the world. 

"Ronda, if you fight her, it's really good for your PR, you'll get more followers on Twitter, but as an athlete it's way more interesting to fight Cyborg."

Leading into her bout against Cyborg in Invicta, Coenen is well aware that Rousey's name will come up dozens of times. She's the most popular women's fighter in the world right now the same way Gina Carano was a few years ago.

As popular as Carano was, however, it didn't stop her from being snuffed out in the cage when she met Cyborg back in 2009.

So even if Coenen's opponent has to answer a million questions about Rousey leading up to the fight, it doesn't phase her one bit. She says the fact that people are talking about her so much means Rousey has done her job effectively.

It's just a much different matter once they are in the cage.

"I couldn't care less honestly. I'm a fighter and I like to fight. Ronda's an amazing grappler and she's doing great in the media," Coenen stated. "MMA isn't only about fighting, unfortunately. It's about who wants to see your fight and who is willing to buy the pay-per-view and buy a ticket and come over. With a big mouth she has done an amazing job."

Coenen makes it clear that she's not taking anything away from Rousey's skills inside or outside of the fight. 

She just believes that when it comes down to pure fight skills Cyborg is still the best in the world, and Coenen wants to beat her on Saturday night to claim the top spot for herself and maybe get a little bit of satisfaction after losing to her the first time around.

"I don't want to take anything away from Ronda. She's beat up everyone that has been a champion of Strikeforce, and she did it in an amazing way," Coenen said. "But the thing is, I think she's too one-dimensional and somebody will pop up and punch her hard in the face and I really want to see what's happening then."

As for her own rematch with Cyborg, Coenen is predicting a much different outcome than the last time they faced each other. Coenen has added new elements to her training, and she already knows what to expect out of her opponent.

Now it's time to show Cyborg the new tricks she's learned in the last few years.

"I've learned a lot. When I was fighting her the first time I wasn't doing much of a strength and conditioning program. Even last year, I was doing it on and off. Now I've really done a lot of strength training. I really feel the difference," Coenen said. "I recover faster and I'm way more stronger than I used to be.  I think it will be an interesting fight."

Coenen and Cyborg will meet in the main event of this weekend's Invicta FC pay-per-view for the first ever 145-pound promotional title.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted