Is Ronda Rousey ever returning to the Octagon? As reported by the Washington Post, Ronda Rousey’s loss in November 2015 was so bad, she was put on mandatory medical suspension. It’s since ended, and Champions.co writes that Ronda underwent USADA drug testing.
So now we’re just waiting for a time and place to witness Ronda Rousey’s UFC return.
There were rumors that she would be back in time to fight at UFC 205. But as Rolling Stone reported, UFC President Dana White cleared that up during an interview on UFC Unfiltered back in August.
“[Rousey is] definitely not fighting in New York,” said White. “I’m actually going to start building the New York card this week.”
The good news? For about the millionth time since she suffered the only loss of her UFC career to Holly Holm, White also said that Rousey does intend on fighting again and that we could see her in the Octagon before the year comes to a close.
So with UFC 205 out of the picture, there are just two events left for Ronda to put in an appearance.
There’s a good chance that Ronda won’t make it to either fight night. It’s instead highly likely that the earliest we’ll see Rousey back in action is sometime in 2017. If we do get confirmation of her return, the next question is obvious: What woman will Ronda Rousey face upon returning to the UFC?
There are various factors at play. However, after looking over the current women’s bantamweight landscape, these four women strike me as the most likely candidates to “welcome” Ronda Rousey back to the UFC.
Amanda Nunes made history with her victory over Miesha Tate at UFC 200: As MMAFighting writes, Nunes became the first ever openly gay UFC champion. Now we’re waiting to see if Nunes will hold onto the belt. If Amanda were to have even one successful title defense, she’d be the first woman since Ronda Rousey herself to make it happen.
Were Amanda Nunes to manage a successful title defense, it’s very likely Ronda Rousey would be the next challenger.
Julianna Peña’s chances of becoming the one Ronda Rousey fights next is directly tied to the UFC Bantamweight Women’s Champion title. Peñaseems aware of this, which is why she’s made disparaging remarks about both Nunes and Rousey.
Pena wasted no time in calling out Nunes. According to MMAMania, Julianna even went so far as to accuse Amanda of “hiding the belt,” and waiting for Ronda — someone she referred to as a broken fighter. This taunt increases her chances of facing Ronda in two ways.
- It angers Amanda Nunes into accepting a match
- It angers Ronda Rousey into calling out/taking a challenge
In other words, Julianna is talking herself into a situation where she’ll either win the belt and face Ronda Rousey or lose her challenge — and still eventually fight Ronda Rousey. The way the belt is changing hands, her chances of getting a hold of it are pretty good.
Karma hit Miesha Tate about as hard as Amanda Nunes. MMAFighting writes that her camp claimed a rematch with Holm was “never on the table.” But there was no way that as champion Miesha wouldn’t have been granted a rematch against Holly Holm if that’s what she really wanted.
Miesha Tate instead decided to move on to Amanda Nunes, not realizing how badly she miscalculated. Not only did Amanda prove far more dangerous than Holly, but the loss also marked the end of Miesha’s brief spell as champion.
Fortunately for Miesha Tate, she’s officially recognized by the UFC as the No. 1 contender in her division. Not so fortunately for Tate, this fact didn’t stop Dana White from throwing her aspirations under the bus. Holly Holm was No. 7 when she faced Ronda Rousey at UFC 193.
For Tate’s own sake, she’d better hope Nunes somehow decides she’d like a rematch — rather than wait for Ronda Rousey or take Julianna Pena up on her offer. Otherwise…Miesha Tate might find herself once more at the back of the line.
Another scenario? She and Ronda Rousey face off, and the winner fights Amanda Nunes at a later date. Their intense rivalry makes this a distinct possibility. Also, as Ronda Rousey has had done well against Miesha Tate in the past, she may feel comfortable taking her on.
Ronda’s successful winning streak in the UFC began with Miesha. Rousey could agree to fight Tate, partially hoping to relaunch her dominant career.
Valentina Shevchenko is a true wild card. There’s no telling where she’ll be when Ronda Rousey finally decides to fight in the UFC again. But given her upward climb in Rousey’s absence, she may find herself as either the No. 1 contender or champion.
Shevchenko recently defeated Holly Holm at UFC on FOX 20. Before that fight, she lost to Amanda Nunes by unanimous decision at UFC 196. According to Sherdog, Valentina is currently 13-2. The way things stand, she’s in a good position to get a title shot. Again, winning the belt seems to be the best way to guarantee a match opposite Ronda Rousey.
If Valentina were to beat Amanda or defeat whoever might take the belt from Amanda, the match against Ronda Rousey would be electric.
I know, you’re probably looking at this list and wondering where the heck Holly Holm is. She DID beat Ronda Rousey after all. Shouldn’t she be a logical choice to face Ronda Rousey next?
Well, no. I genuinely believe the UFC wants to bury Holly Holm and forget she ever damaged its cash cow. Holly Holm being pushed from PPV to television despite what she’d accomplished is rather telling. So much so that I’d be surprised if Holm were even the second woman that Ronda Rousey faced.
The good news is that the “Holly Holm question” will have to be answered at some point. Besides, Holm is a former champion. Ideally, Ronda Rousey would face Holly Holm in a highly anticipated rematch — with the winner getting a title fight.
I just don’t see that happening.
When (if ever) do you see Ronda Rousey returning to the UFC to fight? Who do you think her first opponent should be? Share your thoughts below!
[Featured Photo by Harry How/Getty Images]