Ronda Rousey might be in line to fight UFC women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate

Ronda Rousey was seen on social media Saturday night looking closely at her cell phone while attending a wrestling tournament in Reseda.

What she watched transpire from UFC 196 was a clearer path to her resurrection as a champion.

By virtue of Miesha Tate's late fifth-round submission of Holly Holm to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship women's bantamweight belt, Rousey is positioned for a return in the fall to fight a woman she has beaten twice.

"For Miesha, you've got a potential fight with Ronda and that fight makes sense," UFC President Dana White told The Times in a text message Sunday. "But we need to get back in the office this week and start having those discussions."

Rousey's stunning knockout loss to Holm in November unveiled dysfunction and vulnerability around a fighter who previously appeared unbeatable.

She hid her face from cameras upon return from Australia at LAX, declined to congratulate Holm for more than two months, spoke of suicidal thoughts on the "Ellen" show and balked at an immediate rematch to pursue a movie role.

Now, Holm's decision not to wait for a rematch with Rousey in what White predicted would be a record pay-per-view event of more than 2 million buys is being scrutinized.

After winning three of the first four rounds on the judges' scorecards, Holm couldn't avoid the wrestling hold of Tate late in the fifth and final round, getting caught in a rear naked chokehold that ended the fight with 90 seconds remaining.

"We made it pretty clear we wanted to do the Ronda-Holly rematch. [Holm] and her manager were adamant that they wanted to take this Miesha Tate fight in between, and ultimately we can't force someone to do something … so we made the fight," UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta told The Times in a Sunday afternoon telephone conversation.

Fertitta said he expects to meet with White and others Tuesday to address options for all four of the main UFC 196 fighters — Tate, Holm and Conor McGregor, the popular Irish featherweight champion who was submitted by Stockton's Nate Diaz in the second round of a nontitle welterweight fight.

The possibility of a Diaz fight against welterweight champion Robbie Lawler intrigues, Fertitta said.

Asked if a Tate-Holm rematch at the landmark UFC 200 event July 9 in Las Vegas is also possible, Fertitta said, "Sure. Absolutely. That's one of the options. We haven't made any decisions as of now."

Said Tate: "My job as champion is to fight the next best fighter, whoever that is."

Holm (10-1) said after her defeat that she'd like a Tate rematch as soon as possible, adding she wasn't going to kick herself over taking the fight instead of waiting for the rematch of a bout she dominated with her world-champion boxing skill, ending it with a vicious second-round head kick on Rousey.

"Everyone before this [Tate] fight was saying, 'Why are you taking this fight? You should be going for the rematch.' You know what, I'm in it to fight," Holm said. "I made some mistakes. I'll fix those mistakes and come back stronger. Miesha capitalized, she's a scrapper. I let my guard down and it cost me the fight. I wanted to take this challenge. I'm here to fight."

McGregor's loss showed the perils of moving up in weight.

The extent of him hurting Diaz was a cut over the right eye with first-round punches. But Diaz kept throwing and McGregor's knees buckled after getting struck by a heavy blow in the second. He was worn down by follow-up punches before the rear-naked choke later in the second.

A humbled McGregor (19-3 overall in mixed martial arts) said he was "heartbroken" by the loss and will likely return to 145 pounds for a possible UFC 200 date against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar or the ex-champion McGregor defeated in December, Brazil's Jose Aldo.

"Usually, I fight a man in my division and they crumble with those shots," McGregor said. "Nate took them very well. The weight allowed him to take those shots. With a little bit of an adjustment and a recognition that, with the bigger man, you have to be more efficient with my shots. … I made some errors. Hats off to Nate. It was a battle of energy he got the better of."

McGregor agreed to a 25-pound, two-division jump to fight Diaz after 155-pound lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos pulled out of the fight two weeks ago with a foot injury.

"This is part of the game. I took the fight. It didn't work," McGregor said. "I'll get back."

Fertitta said McGregor's brash move to accept the fight against a former lightweight title challenger, along with his "gunslinging" effort Saturday, showed competitive fire he doesn't believe will diminish McGregor in fight fans' eyes.

"People are obviously still very intrigued in Conor," Fertitta said. "Very interesting character, very exciting fighter. And a ton of options for him. Super big fights … and he's brilliant, one of the smartest fighters I've ever known."

White said UFC 196 "is trending to be one of, if not the biggest event we've ever done."

With Rousey and McGregor still figuring prominently in the company's future major cards after Saturday's $8.1-million live gate, Fertitta said he doesn't feel the doom some would expect after the surprise Holm and McGregor losses.

"It was a great night for the UFC," Fertitta said. "From a product standpoint, we had a massive audience and the fights delivered. That's why people like the UFC, because it's not predictable and not like many other sports, where you kind of know what's going to happen.

"You have these moments that are unbelievable. People are shocked, and that's actually good in the long run for the business."

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 07, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Rousey could get shot at Tate" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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