Ronda Rousey versus Cris Cyborg sounds as exciting as Godzilla versus King Kong and has roughly the same odds of happening anytime soon. The longer they drag the conversation out, the worse it looks.
Nothing in the fight world captures as much attention as good match propositions. With the media bloated on Rousey's bottomless storeroom of attention-mongering, it's no surprise the speculation revolves around her.
It's no surprise either that the talk keeps looping back to Cyborg, the only woman in MMA more terrifying than Ronda, with power and striking ability to balance Rousey's grappling. The babble comes in an endless circle of steroid accusations, Dana White's hatred for all things not UFC, name-calling and old-fashioned head bounties. Along with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bethe Correia, Holly Holm and Gina Carano, Cyborg occupies the Rousey Zone, where fighters turn into marquees for the UFC's golden goose.
Nothing in interviews gives the impression that the fight will happen. With the UFC's new-found righteousness in the steroid war, they might not want the hassle of Cyborg's alleged usage. Furthermore, Dana White seems like he simply can't bear dealing with Justino professionally.
Beneath the surface, however, it could get into problematic territory. Fighters get accused of ducking when they aren't challenging the killers coming up the ladder.
Whether or not Rousey and the UFC are ducking a dangerous fighter is beside the point. It's perception that counts. The more they talk about it and refuse to let it happen, the more we'll start to question why.
Dana White and the UFC have enough pull and influence to sign whoever they need to sign. The steroid issue has been buried with too many fighters for that to be an effective explanation. He signs fighters he hates or keeps them long after the relationship goes sour.
We know that Rousey's career is carefully orchestrated by her handlers; all great fighters' careers are, especially the ones with Rousey's bankability. If Rousey and the UFC want to avoid the inevitable accusations of evasion, they need to ride the line between hype-building and legitimate matchmaking.
In the meantime, Rousey's fantasy fights get more attention than the one she's actually slated for against Alexis Davis.
Davis exists and will fight Rousey, and we look straight past as though Rousey's victory is already come, past and forgotten. It's revealing that Rousey's real-life foe generates so little buzz, almost like they've chosen the safe one for the actual fight and drummed up the press with the exciting ones to keep the Benjamins rolling in. If it isn't an evasion, it certainly feels like a frustrating tease.
They build fighters on talk as much as performance, but that knife cuts two ways. Dodge, contract problem or reputation issues, it's inconsiderate to dangle fights in front of the fans day after day with no blood to show for it.