Just a few days after the prospects of Ronda Rousey defending her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title in a blockbuster bout with Gina Carano seemed oh so close, UFC President Dana White announced late Friday night that Rousey will instead put her belt on the line against No. 2-ranked Alexis Davis.
“Ronda Rousey vs (sic) Alexis Davis Saturday, July 5th for the women’s bantamweight title in Las Vegas for International Fight Week!!!” White tweeted.
In past weeks, speculation was brimming at the prospect of Rousey (9-0), the two-time former United States Olympian in judo, defending her championship against Carano, a women’s MMA superstar who has not fought since 2009, or possibly Holly Holm, an undefeated MMA fighter and former world champion boxer who is unsigned by the UFC, or Cris Cyborg, the reigning Invicta Fighting Championships featherweight champion.
In the end, it is Davis (16-5), considered one of the most well-round women’s MMA fighters around.
“Somebody pinch me because I’m still dreaming!!” Davis tweeted Friday. “Christmas is coming July 5th in Vegas.”
The fight will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center and is set to be headlined by a UFC middleweight title tilt between champion Chris Weidman and challenger Lyoto Machida.
It will be Rousey’s fourth UFC title bout, having defended the belt in the first-ever women’s bout in organization history against Liz Carmouce in February of 2013, then against archrival Miesha Tate in December and in February against then-undefeated challenger Sara McMann. Rousey has won all nine of her bouts inside the first round, with the first eight coming via armbar submission and the McMann win coming via technical knockout after a knee to the liver and some follow-up punches.
Davis is 3-0 in the UFC with wins over Jessica Eye, Carmouche and Rosi Sexton.
In addition to wins over Carmouche, Rousey and Davsi also share a common opponent in Sarah Kaufman. Rousey defeated Kaufman in 54 seconds in 2012 in a Strikeforce title fight that followed Kaufman defeating Davis via majority decision earlier in the year. Kaufman also defeated Davis in her pro debut.
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.