A few months ago, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino vowed to retire Ronda Rousey the same way she did Gina Carano, and she isn’t backing down from that promise.
Rousey, who knocked out Alexis Davis in 16 seconds at UFC 175 on Saturday night, is bathing in the spotlight as a UFC champion and the current face of women’s MMA. As UFC President Dana White once put it in an interview with Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com, the women’s bantamweight division is the “Ronda Rousey show.”
But it wasn’t always that way.
Before blonde was in style, there was a beautiful brunette stealing hearts and climbing the MMA ranks. Carano, who is widely considered the original face of women’s MMA, used her world-class skills and charming personality to set the wheels in motion for the mainstream popularity of women’s MMA.
The now-defunct Strikeforce promotion even made the bold move of featuring the undefeated Carano in the main event of a major fight card against Justino. Even current UFC stars like Gilbert Melendez, Fabricio Werdum and Gegard Mousasi took a backseat to the pivotal showdown between the top two women in the sport.
After watching Carano dominate the other opposition, it was immediately clear that she ran into an absolute buzzsaw in Justino. Two years of hype was stomped out viciously in just five minutes by TKO. After the fight, Carano called it a career and took up acting in Hollywood.
In a statement released to Axs.tv’s Inside MMA back in February, Justino said she would do the same thing to Rousey:
In reference to Ronda’s statement that I am looking for a payday so that I can retire, you’re right, I am looking for a payday to retire you like I did Gina Carano. But to show it’s not only about money, I challenge you to a fight – winner takes all. Or better yet let’s fight for FREE. ANYTIME! ANYWHERE! Ask your daddy Dana to make it happen.
Shortly after Rousey’s win over Davis, Justino dug into the throwback album and tweeted a picture as a stern warning of what Rousey could expect in a fight.
The back-and-forth verbal jabs between Cyborg and Rousey have gone on for years.
Perhaps the time has finally come to put an end to the hype and give fans the biggest fight in the history of women’s MMA.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.