Women's bantamweight champion Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey was able to secure a knockout victory over Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann after just 66 seconds of first-round action on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 170.
After yet another dominant performance, it’s clear that Rousey needs an elite challenger.
Rousey now has a 9-0 MMA record and has successfully defended her title in all three matchups in the UFC. While she was not able to use her patented armbar submission on Saturday—the move that helped her win the first eight fights of her career—the devastating body shots that landed near McMann’s liver dropped the challenger and forced the early stoppage.
McMann is one of the brightest stars in the sport, but Rousey made short work of her and proved that she needs some viable competition that will force her to perform in adverse conditions.
At this point, Rousey has fights mentally won before her opponents ever step into the Octagon due to the fear the champion instills. That’s what the champion’s reign of terror has done to the women’s bantamweight division.
While there is no easy answer for the lack of elite depth, a fight against Alexis Davis is exactly what Rousey and women’s MMA needs next.
Davis beat Jessica Eye in a controversial split decision, but her performance on Saturday proved she can go the distance with anyone and contend for the victory. She has dominated her competition since coming over to the UFC, winning each of her first three fights via decision, but it will be her durability and tenacity that make her a viable foe for Rousey.
There is a legitimate intimidation factor for many of the challengers that step into the Octagon with Rousey, but Davis’ ability and willingness to stand toe-to-toe with her opponents and throw heavy shots makes her a serious threat.
Davis is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. With Rousey using her judo and wrestling ability to dominate her challengers, the champion will struggle to take down Davis.
Even when Rousey takes the bout to the ground, though, Davis’ ability to defend from the bottom position and mount offense via submissions makes her incredibly dangerous.
With both women handling top contender Liz Carmouche in convincing fashion in 2013—Rousey won via submission and Davis was victorious via a unanimous decision—the two former Strikeforce stars are on a collision course for the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship.
After dominating everyone who has stepped inside the Octagon with her, Rousey needs a serious challenger to legitimize her reign as champion.
There is no better answer right now than Davis and her five-fight winning streak.