Ronda Rousey’s rapid 66-second knockout of Sara McMann on Saturday night in UFC 170 leaves the Ultimate Fighting Championship with a stiff challenge.
Can it find a quality contender?
Rousey (9-0), who won by dropping McMann with a liver shot by left knee that referee Herb Dean judged was too debilitating for McMann to recover from, now has eight first-round victories overall.
While her prior fight, against Miesha Tate on Dec. 28, did extend to the third round, Rousey has now beaten Tate twice so the intrigue in that rivalry is flat for now.
That leaves the UFC’s Cat Zingano, who was previously in line after beating Tate by technical knockout in April. Zingano later injured her knee, however, and in January her husband died in an apparent suicide.
Zingano is expected to be ready for a fight by early summer. Rousey said after her win, she
anticipates the second of her three 2014 fights will be in late summer, after promoting the release of her film “The Expendables 3.”
Another powerful choice could be Cris “Cyborg” Justino.
The problems with Justino, 28, are that she is under contract with another fight organization, and has previously maintained she’d be unable to reach the women’s bantamweight limit of 135 pounds.
“It’s not that I’m against signing ‘Cyborg,’ ” UFC President Dana White told reporters after the Rousey fight. “It’s that if she goes to 135 pounds, she dies, according to [her camp]. Saying you’ll die if you go to 135 pounds is a pretty bold statement.”
In a statement released earlier this month, Justino tried to clarify, “I didn’t literally mean I would die if I made 135. What I meant was that my doctor recommended that I did not fight the rest of my career at 135, which is what the UFC wanted.”
But White sees another problem with the idea of bringing Cyborg (12-1) aboard to give her an immediate title shot.
“You don’t get to have no fights in the UFC, then step over every girl in the UFC” for Rousey, White said, adding he’d like to see Cyborg prove she can make 135 pounds “a couple times somewhere else” before assigning her against Rousey.
“We’ll see what happens. A lot of things have to happen,” White said. “We [still] have to make a deal.”
That situation also applies to Holly Holm, a former boxer who’s 6-0 in MMA.
Considering Rousey-McMann drew a live gate of $1.55 million, with attendance just above 10,000 at Mandalay Bay, below a typical UFC card in Las Vegas, a bigger name foe for Rousey
wouldn’t be such a bad idea, however.
Rousey said Zingano seems the most deserving next opponent, but asked about Cyborg.
Rousey said, “Of course I’m interested. I’m not going anywhere. She knows where I’m at.”