Her star power ushered in women's MMA to the UFC, and it was a very successful year for the ladies. They continually shined. Exciting fight after exciting fight put women's MMA on the radar of a much larger audience.
Now the calendar turns to 2014 with Rousey at the helm. We may have wondered who was next, but UFC president Dana White announced those plans at the post-fight press conference.
Sara McMann is next in line. And soon.
UFC 170 has a new main event, and it will be Olympian vs. Olympian. Medalist vs. medalist. A long-awaited, much-anticipated fight between two elite fighters. Top-level grappling. Judo vs. wrestling. It is a fight many have wanted to see since the two transitioned to MMA.
With growing star appeal and a film career, general thought was that Rousey would perhaps only fight twice in 2014. However, in her post-fight interview with Fox Sports' Ariel Helwani, Rousey mentioned that she would like to be more active in the coming year.
She also mentioned that she would like to take time off after her next fight. So who knows what that entails for her activity after the fight with McMann.
What comes after UFC 170? That depends on if she wins or not.
Cat Zingano looks like she will get the winner, but Alexis Davis and Jessica Eye are also in title contention.
Zingano is still recovering from knee surgery, and there are no concrete plans. It is entirely possible that the UFC chooses to put her in a non-title fight in order to knock off the rust from a lengthy layoff due to the injury. Thanks to UFC 170's timing, it won't hold up Rousey if that is the route they go.
After UFC 170, it looks like a summer date could be next for Rousey. That is a fine date for a bout against Zingano.
If Rousey has no films lined up in 2014, then she'll fight a third time for sure.
2014 looks to be another strong year for women's MMA, and Rousey will be at the forefront. Win or lose against McMann at UFC 170, Rousey will be headlining three cards—something the UFC desperately needs with outgoing stars.
GSP is on hiatus, Anderson Silva is injured and potentially retired, Brock Lesnar did not return and Jon Jones still has not filled the role of UFC flag bearer. Rousey is the face of the UFC right now, and they will want to promote her as often as they can.
She has enough contenders to fill out 2014 if she remains champion, giving her a full calendar before the page actually turns to the new year. First things first, a date with McMann in February. That will be a very difficult fight, but one that will hopefully give the UFC another marketable name in McMann.
If Rousey does fight three times in the new year, that is a win for us fans. She is one of the most exciting commodities in the sport today.
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