Following Ronda Rousey’s absolute destruction of Sara McMann in their UFC 170 title fight, the question that seemed to be on every fight fans mind was, ‘Who’s next?’
The first logical choice would have to be Cat Zingano, who is currently the number three female fighter according to the Power MMA Show’s official fighter rankings, as she already secured her number one contender position following her technical knockout over Miesha Tate at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale last April. But after suffering a knee injury she was forced to pull out and has been on the mends ever since. While she was expected to make her return sometime this summer, the death of her husband, Mauricio Zingano, this past January may put those plans on hold.
But if the woman known as ‘Alpha’ cannot make the July deadline then Alexis Davis, currently the number four ranked female fighter. After all she is riding a five fight-winning streak and is coming off a split decision victory over fellow top 10 fighter Jessica Eye at UFC 170. But her performance in in her last victory didn’t do her any favors as some fans scored the fight in favor of Eye. So if the UFC does not think Davis can sell tickets, due to the fact her matchup against Rousey already sounds rather lopsided, they may choose to postpone her inevitable title shot.
So with Zingano’s foreseeable future up in the air and Davis’s inability to draw pay-per-view buys keeping her from the belt, that debate over ‘Who’s next for Rousey?’ is even more confusing than ever.
But not according to Wrestling Observer founder Dave Meltzer, who touched upon this very subject in great lengths and revealed a very interesting possible opponent for the UFC woman’s bantamweight champion.
The first is Gina Carano. Carano hasn’t fought in four-and-a-half years. There would be hell to pay in criticism for UFC if they were to make that fight, if Carano would even have interest in it. But it would draw far more, perhaps nearly double, of what anyone else available would do, and would easily be the biggest woman’s combat sports fight of modern times. There’s also a chance it would be a first round armbar and all the criticism coming in would be the same going out. But this is the kind of thinking out of the box that put UFC on the PPV map in 2006.
If Meltzer’s report does become a reality, Rousey facing off against Carano would draw massive PPV buys. Carano was essentially face of women’s MMA between 2007-2008 during her run in EliteXC and Strikeforce. But after a suffering the first loss of her career at the hands of Cyborg in 2009, she decided enough was enough and went on to establish a successful career in Hollywood
This left WMMA without the crossover superstar it so desperately needed. Then the brash talking Rousey came along and not only replaced Carano as the face of WMMA but also surpassed her in terms of popularity amongst the fans and marketability outside of the cage. But talks of a potential superfight between the fighters picked up little steam as many wrote it off as simply hopeful thinking.
But during an appearance on KROQ’s Kevin and Bean Show on Friday morning, UFC commentator Joe Rogan chimed in on the notion that there were no credible opponents left for Rousey to face.
“I wish I could tell you what I know. I wish I could tell you. I know some secret stuff. I know some secret stuff, but I can’t tell you. You might actually know, but I can’t tell you. I can say no more than I’ve already said. I will tell you this … within the next probably week or so a huge announcement will come about women’s fighting… It’s going to be crazy. Madness. I wish I could, but I would betray the confidence of my friend and employer.”
Madness. That’s the word that jumps out.
A matchup against Zingano or Davis would certainly not be madness, which means the UFC has found Rousey an opponent with the type of drawing power that is on par with her own.
With all of its superstars tied up in their own fights or simply recovering from injuries, the UFC is desperate for a headline grabbing matchup on their annual Fourth of July weekend event. If that matchup does become Rousey vs. Carano it would undoubtedly go down as not only biggest fight in WMMA history.