It took a combined 60 seconds for Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg Justino to dominate their opponents this past weekend. The time for joking is over, it’s time for Rousey to either fight or face the consequences that come with avoiding her most devastating opponent.
The UFC is faced with an unenviable dilemma. Does the organization sacrifice an entire division for one super fight? Those are the stakes of booking Ronda Rousey vs. Cris “Cyborg” Justino. The fight is arguably the biggest fight the promotion could pull off at this time yet the ramifications of a Rousey massacre could be devastating. Without Rousey there is no WMMA. While that may be a harsh statement to make it is a fact. Nobody else, including Cyborg is pulling the kind of mainstream attention that Rousey is. Knowing that the odds of Rousey winning a fight against Cyborg as the same as Rousey losing, this has become one tough fight for the UFC to make.
Many will give the UFC credit. Many will say that the UFC has been attempting to make this fight since Rousey debuted in 2013. That may be true but there is a catch. The UFC has been attempting to make this fight at 135. See, Cyborg fights at 145 and walks around much heavier. Rousey moved down in weight in 2011 to 135. White and Rousey have said repeatedly that they’d take the fight at 135, giving Rousey a distinct advantage. Yet Rousey has been adamant that she will not fight a pound heavier, when challenged to a catch weight fight of 140 pounds and yet she continues to use this 135 shield to avoid criticism from her promoter and MMA journalists.
Justino is not well liked and this has worked against her when it comes to critics. Many speculated that Justino was on performance enhancing drugs for years as an MMA fighter. Nobody ever gave Justino the full respect she probably deserved over this speculation. Justino has tested once for PEDs, back in 2011. Yes she has tested once in her 10-year WMMA career for PEDs and yet she has had to bare this cross before and after then. Rousey would have pressure to fight anyone else in this situation but Justino will never get that kind of support. Justino has fought three times since and has passed all PED tests.
After demolishing Cat Zingano in 14 seconds, Rousey is now being compared to Mike Tyson. I couldn’t think of a better analogy. I watched Tyson fight seemingly every three months as a kid. He was an animal! Yet even I remember back then many of Tyson’s critics pointing out that he was avoiding top-caliber opponents. Once Tyson got in the ring with guys like Holyfield and Lewis, his aura disappeared. Rousey, like Tyson is avoiding her toughest potential challenge. Her legacy will not be cemented until she climbs that mountain.
“She’s not in the UFC. If she wants to come to the UFC and fight at 135, then yes, I would,” Rousey told Ariel Helwani after winning at . “(She won) against some chick that I beat on like my second pro-fight ever, in what, 40 seconds? Not really (impressed).”
Rousey’s not impressed? This comes from the same Rousey who stood inside the octagon on Saturday night issuing challenges to Bethe Correia and Holly Holm. With all due respect to both women, each are big mismatches next to Rousey. Yet Rousey shows no interest in fighting her rival who just obliterated her opponent in under a minute on Friday night. How anyone can take this seriously is beyond me?
Rousey likes to carry the banner for WMMA. The biggest thing she could do for WMMA is fight Cyborg. That fight would be the biggest WMMA fight in history and could potentially break one million buys. The media attention for a fight of that magnitude would be enormous for WMMA. Yet she is perfectly content letting Justino fight in Invicta while she challenges subpar competition and WMMA continues to struggle. That’s just the facts whether you like Rousey, hate Justino, or just don’t care.