Ronda Rousey is a woman possessed whenever she steps into the Octagon, which she will do for the third time in less than seven months at UFC 175 against Alexis Davis. She's been the biggest female star in mixed martial arts for two years but has lacked a real challenge.
That's why Rousey's matchup with Davis is so important for the future of women's mixed martial arts, especially if Davis pulls off the upset.
Right now, the former Olympian is the only viable drawing card in that division to the point where she's been the only female featured on the main card of a pay-per-view.
Davis fought Rosi Sexton on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 161, but that only came about because two of the feature bouts (Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Rua) were called off due to injuries for Barao and Nogueira, respectively.
With no other female fighter stepping up to match Rousey in terms of buzz or popularity, the UFC has tried turning to Gina Carano for some spark. However, according to Ariel Helwani in an appearance on UFC Tonight, via MMAJunkie.com, the negotiations between the two sides fizzled out.
Signing Carano would be like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. It gives you buzz for that one moment, but how long would Carano really be around? She's 32 years old and hasn't fought in nearly five years after losing the Strikeforce women's featherweight title to Cris Cyborg.
There is also the matter of getting Carano to fight at a smaller weight class, even if she signed, than she is used to, as Rousey is the bantamweight champion (135 pounds).
Within the same report from Helwani is a note that Holly Holm, who went from a professional boxing career to the current Legacy FC women's bantamweight champion, is also negotiating with UFC.
Holm would be a worthy challenger for Rousey and a nice change of pace as a former professional boxer who has knocked out six of her seven opponents, but does UFC really want to throw her in the Octagon with the champion before winning a fight with the company?
Again, though, we are talking about outside forces needing to challenge Rousey because no one currently in UFC has been able to match the champion. She's the best fighter in the world and will be difficult to beat, but surely there is someone out there to give a challenge.
That's where Davis and her importance comes into play. She's got the right style to compete with Rousey as a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and strong ground game, which is where the champion has overwhelmed all of her opponents.
Davis winning would give the UFC so much to build around in the future. She becomes a big star by defeating the champion on one of the biggest shows this year during the Fourth of July weekend. There's an obvious rematch that Dana White can put together, or even give Davis a chance to fly on her own the way Rousey has.
Rousey has talked about taking time off after this fight, so there's a real possibility that an interim title would need to be created anyway. Davis winning would give the UFC a new star to work with, something it desperately needs in the division to avoid investing in a fighter who hasn't been in the cage since 2009.
No one will be shocked if Rousey wins at UFC 175, but it's in the best interest of the sport if someone new is wearing the belt.
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