ronda rousey 2014

Undefeated UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (9-0) demolished Sara McMann with her much-improved striking at UFC 170 last month. It marks the first time in her pro MMA career that Rousey scored a win by way of anything other than an armbar submission.

The McMann TKO came from a succession of knees to the liver, and illustrates how Rousey is adapting her game plan in the Octagon to account for all the young ladies lining up to try to knock her out before she can submit them.

Though rumors of a potential battle with Gina Carano may seem laughable on the surface, this would be the most intriguing and thrilling match possible.

The problem is the fight may not really be at all possible since there is no word about whther Carano is even still training or is at all interested in a comeback. Also, Carano's last fight was more than five years ago.

Since her departure from the sport, Carano's made plenty of inroads in Hollywood and really does not need the money she would get to come out of retirement. Carano actually pulled out of her last fight with an unexplained medical issue she refused to reveal.

If it was a serious enough issue, she may not even be able to fight again. Still, Dana White would not dismiss the possibility of Carano vs. Rousey when asked about it. He even reminded reporters that Carano technically has four fights left on her old Strikeforce contract picked up by the UFC.

Rousey herself will be in Hollywood filming the movie version of the HBO Series "Entourage" before her next fight, so the idea of two movie stars fighting in real life is pretty epic. Both Rousey and Carano have amazing sex symbol status, but at the same time both beauties can be real beasts when they get in the cage.

Still, Carano is a longshot at best and the idea of floating her name out there may just be something Dana White and UFC brass are allowing to happen just for publicity's sake.

The most realistic opponent for Rousey would be 8-0 Cat Zingano (due a title shot as soon as she is cleared to fight again). Zingano is recovering from a horrific knee injury that resulted in Miesha Tate getting another crack at Rousey last year.

Tate lasted longer than any other opponent to ever face Rousey, but she still lost by armbar when the smoke cleared. Zingano insists she should be ready to face Rousey toward the end of this coming summer. Zingano will have to be at her best to pull off the win, and the hiatus won't help.

If somehow the knee heals so it becomes even stronger than before the injury, she may have a fighting chance to pull off the win, but she will definitely not be going in as the favorite in that fight.

Cris "Cyborg" Justino (12-1) may have the most legitimate chance to dethrone Rousey, but is the UFC willing to take the risk of signing her to the short-term, three-fight deal she wants only to be forced to negotiate a longer contract if she manages to take the belt?

The UFC is reportedly open to a six-fight contract, but Justino is not sure she can make that many weight cuts down to 135 pounds to make that long-term arrangement feasible. Also, UFC president and part-owner Dana White often calls attention to Justino's unattractive appearance.

Rousey's toughness is matched by her sex appeal, something Justino really doesn't have. Justino is a muscle-bound woman with a face that isn't getting her on any magazine covers outside MMA circles. Still, fans want to see Rousey challenged for once, and Justino can do just that.

Justino's only loss came in her pro debut, and she's been a professional MMA fighter for nearly five more years than Rousey's been in the pro ranks. She could really take Rousey to deep water, but if Rousey loses that fight it could mean disaster.

It really could be a lose/lose move for the UFC to even sign Justino at this point since she is yet to prove she can even make weight for 135 pounds. The league's invested too much in Rousey.

They openend up a women's bantamweight division solely to capitalize on Rousey's growing fame, so it seems far-fetched for them to risk that investment by matching Rousey up with a woman who could destroy her.

The dark horse candidate is also yet to ink a deal with the UFC and is reportedly gunning for an immediate title shot after winning her first six MMA fights with a much smaller circuit. Holly Holm (6-0 MMA, 33-2-3 in boxing) is admittedly hoping to put her MMA career on the fast track after exhausting her opportunities in the sport of boxing.

Unlike Rousey, she scored all but one of her wins by knockout or TKO. She only has one decision on her record, which came in her last fight. That was a three-round bout, though. Should she get a title shot against Rousey, it would be a five-round affair.

Holm faces 7-3 Juliana Werner in her next bout in April. She's repeatedly made it clear that the bout may likely be the last one she fights in her hometown of Albequerque, New Mexico.

Though her extensive boxing experience should earn her special consideration in signing any contract with the UFC, White's been reluctant to sign her seeing as her manager is asking for so much money and that immediate shot at Rousey.

White may change his tune if Holm signs a deal with Invicta and starts beating up some bigger names in women's MMA.

Rousey's recent stint on The Ultimate Fighter revealed a side of her few fans knew existed. She's embraced the bad girl role, and she still generates tremendous respect and admiration from her fans and foes. Love her or hate her, it's hard to say she's anything less than the best thing to ever happen to the UFC.

Therefore, the organization is going to take very careful steps to protect her legacy and not have another repeat of the Carano situation where one fight with "Cyborg" was all it took to retire the first major superstar in women's MMA.


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