Cristiane 'Cyborg' Justino or Holly Holm: Who Is Ronda Rousey's Biggest Threat?

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2014

SAN JOSE, CA - AUGUST 15:  Cris Cyborg celebrates after defeating Gina Carano during their Middleweight Championship Title fight at Stikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg on August 15, 2009 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Ronda Rousey is the biggest star in MMA today, and the UFC women's bantamweight champion stands alone at 135 pounds.

Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann will have the next crack at Rousey at UFC 170 on Feb. 22, and it will be her biggest test to date. The two fighters have been linked to each other since they entered the sport. However, in recent times, two other names have been brought up as Rousey's biggest threats.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Holly Holm.

Cyborg and Holm both reside outside the UFC, but which is "Rowdy's" biggest threat?

Cyborg is the former Strikeforce featherweight champion and the current Invicta FC featherweight champion. She has been a dominant force in MMA. When Rousey first entered Strikeforce, she was also a featherweight but dropped to bantamweight because it was the money division.

Cyborg has looked as dominant as ever since returning from suspension. She is 2-0 in Invicta FC with an impressive showing against Marloes Coenen. Her strength was on display as she battered and ragdolled the former Strikeforce bantamweight champion from pillar to post until the fight was halted late in the fourth round.

She is one of the most well-rounded athletes in women's MMA today, and her strength is unmatched.

Holm, on the other hand, challenges Rousey in the striking department.

She is a former boxing champion with a professional record of 33-2-3. With her 6-0 MMA record and five TKO/KO finishes, she has brought that striking acumen into the cage with her. 

So, which of the two is the biggest threat to Rousey?

It's Holm, and it's all about the weight class.

Fans want to see Cyborg vs. Rousey. They have been calling for the fight for years, but the two women aren't in the same weight class. Justino has never shown the ability to get to 135 pounds, and until she does, this fight is a pipe dream.

No matter how much Cyborg wants the fight or talks about it, it won't happen until she can get in the proper weight class.

Rousey is not scared of Cyborg. The thought that she is and that is why the fight has not taken place is absolute, complete and utter nonsense. Period. Rousey is the 135-pound champion, and there is no reason to take a fight in a weight division that the UFC doesn't offer.

There is no upside for her.

Holm is at least in the same weight class. Thus, the fight is actually a possibility if she were to sign with the biggest MMA organization on planet Earth.

She has spent her time on the regional circuit, building her MMA skill set. She has worked at Jackson's MMA for years, and now she is putting those skills to use in the cage against live competition. Her ground game is still untested, but she is at the right place to tailor her game for a potential fight against Rousey.

Holm can do damage on the feet. She has fight-altering power and the technique to deliver that power efficiently. That is why fans are falling in love with her, but she still has a long way to go to prove she is a top-tier women's MMA fighter. She needs to get to Invicta FC or the UFC to prove it.

If Justino can ever demonstrate that she can make 135, which seems unlikely, then she will be Rousey's biggest threat. But until she can prove that, she isn't a threat at all because the fight is not a possibility.

Yes, that is a technicality, but it is also the truth.

If Holm wants to lay claim to being the best female combat athlete on the planet, then she needs to join the UFC. If she does, be on the lookout for an instant contender in the UFC's women's bantamweight division.