During an appearance on KROQ’s Kevin & Bean Show on Friday (h/t MMAFighting.com), UFC commentator Joe Rogan teased at a “huge announcement” coming from the UFC, possibly within the next week, regarding Rousey’s next opponent.
“Within the next probably week or so a huge announcement will come about women's fighting and I'll be back in [the studio] and we'll talk some more,” Rogan said. “It's going to be crazy. Madness. I wish I could [talk about it now], but I would betray the confidence of my friend and employer.”
Unfortunately, pay-per-view numbers aren’t generated by compliments. Rousey’s headliner against fellow Olympian Sara McMann a little more than a week ago at UFC 170 didn’t live up to White’s forecast in buys at the pre-fight media scrum. This was especially disappointing considering McMann was penned as Rousey’s biggest fight left in the women’s bantamweight division.
It also didn’t help that it took Rousey only 66 seconds to dispatch of McMann and record her third straight UFC title defense.
An appetite for marquee fights seems insatiable at this point, considering the glaring gap in skill between Rousey and the rest of the bantamweight division. Fortunately for fans, hope could lie in Rogan’s teaser of a major announcement forthcoming from the UFC.
MMA journalist Dave Meltzer echoed Rogan’s comments in the Wrestling Observer (h/t BloodyElbow.com), and he named Carano and Cyborg, two of MMA’s biggest stars, as the two potential opponents:
Rousey has two potential opponents, both of which would draw huge for different reasons. The first is Gina Carano. Carano hasn't fought in four-and-a-half years. There would be hell to pay in criticism for UFC if they were to make that fight, if Carano would even have interest in it.
But it would draw far more, perhaps nearly double, of what anyone else available would do, and would easily be the biggest woman's combat sports fight of modern times. There's also a chance it would be a first round armbar and all the criticism coming in would be the same going out. But this is the kind of thinking out of the box that put UFC on the PPV map in 2006.
The other is Cris Cyborg Justino which is a whole different round of criticism.
Alexis Davis and Cat Zingano are the only in-house names the UFC could turn to as potential opponents for Rousey. Everyone else is either coming off a loss or not established enough to warrant the spotlight treatment.
While Davis and Zingano are certainly bona fide contenders on paper, it would be a tough to convince fans to drop another $55 on either woman headlining against Rousey.
Perhaps the most intriguing fight in all of MMA is Rousey vs. Cyborg. When talking about the top pound-for-pound women on the planet, there’s no debating the top two spots. The UFC would have a surefire blockbuster on its hands if they can finally piece together the long-awaited superfight.
On the flip side, Rousey’s next opponent could come in the form of a familiar face that no one ever expected. Carano, who is the original “face of women’s MMA,” stepped away from the sport four-and-a-half years ago to pursue her acting career after losing to Cyborg in the inaugural Strikeforce featherweight title bout.
Despite her decision to leave MMA, Carano has always left the door open for a possible return. It would make sense for her to jump back into the fray, if given an opportunity to fight in the UFC for a world title.
According to USA Today, Rousey told reporters at UFC 170 that late summer "seems like a cool time" to fight, but she would also be open to fighting sooner than that. It's no secret that the UFC loves its big Fourth of July weekend fight cards.
The past and present could soon unite in the form of Rousey vs. Carano, which would undoubtedly be the biggest fight in the history of women’s MMA.