Ronda Rousey (10-0) is set to face Cat Zingano (9-0) tonight at UFC 184. The Staples Center in Los Angeles will serve as host for her seventh title defense. Despite her success in mixed martial arts, only one opponent, Miesha Tate, has made it out of the first round and skepticism remains.
Her opposition has been, for lack of a better word, inferior. There is truly one foe that presents a considerable challenge, unfortunately she competes in a different weight class.
There are some interesting challengers who await Rousey, including tonight’s foe, Zingano, yet there is one name that everyone wants to hear called when UFC announcer Bruce Buffer introduce the combatants – Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.
Cris Cyborg is the one person who every MMA fan believes can give Ronda Rousey some competition. And she never hesitates to let everyone know that she wants to fight her. In a recent ESPN article the Invicta featherweight champion went on the offensive.
“It’s funny. When I read that, I laughed. I think it looks like she’s scared of me. I don’t know. Why? I don’t like to think too much about it, I try to fight inside the cage. If she doesn’t come for me, maybe I’ll come for her, follow her and make this fight happen.”
It is clear that “Cyborg” wants a chance to see who the best women’s MMA athlete is. Her words spoke volumes regarding her feelings for the UFC bantamweight champion. They ring even stronger after her 46 second victory over Charmaine Tweet in last night’s Invicta FC 11.
Is Ronda Rousey afraid of Cris Cyborg?
Has Ronda Rousey gone untested?
Here lies two questions regarding the most marketed face of women’s mixed martial arts. Ronda Rousey is easy on the eyes. She can rock the runway just as well as she can apply her patented armbar. It is in the best interest for the UFC, as well as Rousey, if she is the champion.
Rousey has been a marketing boon for mixed martial arts. A lovely woman who can actually fight – that sells tickets, pay-per-view buys and merchandise. As big as the UFC’s campaign showcasing her talents has been, it would all be for naught if she did not demolish the competition that is put in front of her.
Cris “Cyborg” is the 180 degree version of Rousey. “Cyborg” is tough as nails, but she has baggage.
A steroid ban in 2012, as reported by cagetoday.com, has marred her career. The UFC putting their arms around “Cyborg” is a marketing nightmare which would cast doubt on the cleanliness of the sport. That is not what Dana White and the UFC executives want. There is little doubt that she can fight. Cris “Cyborg” is a great in-ring competitor, one that cannot be denied as long as she is on the up and up. Is it worth the risk to have her battle with Ronda Rousey, or continue to have the UFC queen feast on a diet of underwhelming opponents?
And if not Cristiane Justino, then who?
Cat Zingano should test Rousey as long as she can avoid the armbar early. Zingano is undefeated, she has an incredible track record of notable foes, but she is a notorious slow starter in all of her matches. As of now, she is the best fighter Rousey has had to face, on paper at least.
Zingano has a storied past. Her return to the octagon tonight should be looked upon as a triumph. She has dealt with the suicide death of her husband and surgery for a torn ACL. It remains to be seen if the stage will be too big for her.
Holly Holm is another name that is being mentioned as a future opponent for Rousey, but she is unproven. The remaining group of names are all fighters that have faced Rousey and lost miserably, or those who just are not ready to face her. It all comes back to Cris “Cyborg.”
Ronda Rousey winning tonight will further cement her legacy. Will a victory give fans the true fight that they want – Ronda Rousey versus Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino? It should, but skepticisms remain.
[Feature image courtesy of Jeff Gross/Getty Images]