When considering the quick finish to the fight between Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann, given the hype and significant nature of the bout, it seems natural to declare an immediate rematch necessary.
Yes, the knee that caught McMann was damaging, without a doubt. Yet an argument could be made that the stoppage came far too soon.
But did it really?
Obviously, on a historic night like tonight, the idea that a fight this heavily promoted could be stopped almost before it began seems like a crime. We never got to see the grappling contest we were expecting; thus we are left with many questions unanswered.
But that knee was hard, and the damage it caused great enough to drop a committed competitor like McMann to her knees.
When couched in terms of damage, it is hard to argue that McMann wasn't in a bad situation.
Could she have possibly survived the onslaught that would have surely followed? It is of course possible, but given how hard WMMA has worked to gain respect in a sporting world that still seems reluctant to accept women fighting each other with the end to do serious harm, perhaps the stoppage was really a blessing in disguise.
Now that we have acknowledged how things might have looked had they gone on longer, we can focus on the question of should rather than could.
The one thing that strikes me about this situation is that in many ways, Rousey and McMann is very similar to Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
After UFC 155, the new heavyweight champion was so far beyond the rest of the pack that his closest rival was clearly dos Santos, even after Velasquez had run him over for five full rounds.
Next came a needless rematch against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva—a fighter who Velasquez had previously disposed of inside of a single round. Once again, history repeated itself, and Velasquez defended his title for the first time against an opponent he had trounced one year prior. And once again, it was a one-sided bout ending in Round 1.
When you look at the competition available to Rousey, the clearest threat to her title within the UFC remains McMann hands-down. Do we really need to see the champion fight lesser competition when McMann could be given an immediate rematch?
I certainly hope not.
While the stoppage isn’t so groundless that it can be dismissed as purely a case of unnecessary intervention, the idea of giving the champion a lesser opponent when a much better one is available is needless.
None of this is to say the other women waiting in line are less than deserving; they are excellent fighters who have fought hard and earned every accolade they have received.
But a champion should fight the opposition that poses the greatest threat to the title, and no other woman within the UFC represents that kind of threat save McMann.
It may have ended too quickly to be considered a close fight, but it is still as close to a great title fight as we are apt to see for Rousey in the near future.