Charting What the Next 12 Months Might Look Like for Ronda Rousey

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Charting What the Next 12 Months Might Look Like for Ronda Rousey
Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey continues to dominant her opponents, looking more unstoppable in each of her Octagon appearances. Her 16-second destruction of Alexis Davis was yet another example of the distance between the champion and the rest of the division.

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Just when it seemed she had cleared out most of the top contenders at 135 pounds, the UFC made moves to line up her next crop of opponents. It has finally come to terms with Holly Holm (subscription required), who is undefeated at 7-0 and has a professional boxing record of 33-2-3, and she will be debuting in the Octagon sometime this fall.

UFC President Dana White has also said recently that a Gina Carano signing is imminent and that Ronda will defend the title against Carano in December, should the deal get done. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is going to make her first cut to bantamweight in December, and a successful weight cut and performance in the Invicta cage would seemingly signal her movement to the UFC and a potential superfight with Rousey.

Add in the fact that the rightful No. 1 contender for the title, Cat Zingano, is making her return to action against Amanda Nunes at UFC 178 on September 27, and Rousey’s dance card starts to fill up pretty quickly.

 

Gina Carano

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Most likely, Rousey’s next fight will be against Gina Carano. The fight keeps getting mentioned for December, but according to Newsdays Mark La Monica, Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort will be headlining UFC 181 on December 6. UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis said on The MMA Hour this week that his title defense against Gilbert Melendez would also take place on December 6 in Las Vegas, so a third title fight at UFC 181 is unlikely.

Whether Rousey faces Carano at UFC 181 or UFC 182, she will be heavily favored to beat the former Strikeforce champion, who hasn’t fought since her 2009 loss to Cyborg.

 

Cat Zingano

It’s easy to forget that Zingano is undefeated in this sport at 8-0 and was originally supposed to be the person absorbing all of Rousey’s hate as her opposing coach on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter.

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She was also supposed to get a title shot after her April 2013 TKO over Miesha Tate. If Zingano can defeat Amanda Nunes, she will have established herself again as the No. 1 contender and should face Rousey sometime in the first half of 2015, barring any injuries to either party in their next fights.

 

Cyborg

So if Ronda dispatches Gina, she would most likely have the next contender lined up for an early-to-mid 2015 defense. Cyborg’s first opponent at 135 pounds hasn’t been determined yet, and it is possible that even if she walks through the poor soul who agrees to face her, she may need one fight in the UFC before she gets to face Rousey.

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It’s also possible that she gets a championship fight for her UFC debut, which seems likely. We may very well see the much sought-after fight between the two best female mixed martial artists of all time, if Rousey and Cyborg both continue their winning ways until this time next year.

The reason why we watch fights to begin with is because they are intriguing. Rousey facing the current group of bantamweights on the UFC roster isn’t intriguing, as she’s vanquished them all with near impunity thus far. A fight with Cyborg has the intrigue that is lacking from the other potential matchups for Rousey.

It’s no safe bet that Rousey would be able to dominate Cyborg the way she has her opponents up until this point, and we truly won’t know what will happen until we see it. These two may even fight to a trilogy, if one doesn’t thoroughly dominate the other in one or two fights.

 

Holly Holm

The Preacher’s Daughter has perhaps the best striking acumen on the women’s side of the sport. She’s a former professional boxer and has kickboxed as well. She has lite up her opposition with an impressive arsenal of punches and kicks that would send even the most bricked-up female bantamweights to the mat.

I think Holm is going to run roughshod over the division in a similar way that Rousey has with her Olympic-level judo and improving striking game. It’s a matter of when, not if, Holm fights for the title, and she will most likely have strung together enough wins to secure a title shot against Rousey or her usurper sometime toward the end of 2015.

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